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General chatter about wine, and other news.
  • Orange wine goes back a long way – from humble beginnings in Georgia, Slovenia and the world’s oldest wine regions, it disappeared into obscurity for centuries. Since its rediscovery in the last couple of decades, it has morphed and adapted to fit into our modern wine culture.

    When Orange wines first burst back onto the scenes at the more avant-garde establishments in London, they were designed to show the extent of what an Orange wine could be; to distance themselves from Whites – and more importantly, Rosé. Deep colour, cloudy appearance, scrumpy-like characteristics with high levels of tannin, phenolic elements, savoury flavours, spice and more. Pioneering producers like Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon in Friuli used long skin maceration and no sulphites and the wines were structured, dry and muscular.  They took some drinking and needed the right food but there was no denying the allure and complexity of these unusual wines.

    Fast forward 23 years or so and now people are really catching on and starting to love these amber elixirs but also are craving easier styles.  Winemakers, ever influenced by the fast paced development of the natural wine movement are aiming for a more refined style, with shorter periods of skin contact, less extraction and ageing in stainless steel or concrete tanks to preserve freshness of flavour and avoid oxidative characters. Many of the orange wines we’re seeing now have all the elegance of their white counterparts, but with more profound texture and depth.

    Producers like Craig Hawkins in Swartland are making wines completely transformed from their deep coloured, tannic and hearty heritage.  His Skin Contact 2018 is a delicate orange hue and has elegant aromas of flowers, fruits and herbs with just a touch of the classic phenolic component of orange wine. Some of our other more delicate favourites include L’Orange from Domaine de Courbissac, and Marius et Simone from Domaine Giachino, wines that are fresh, elegant and precise. Not that we don't love the more hardcore stuff too and Radikon's long aged Ribolla and Paolo Vodopivec's Magnificent Vitovska take pride of place among our range of some 40 odd orange wines.

    But we are delighted to see this evolution in the category and such a diversity of styles emerging. Natural winemakers love to experiment and respond to developing tastes which is all the better for the thirsty wine lover.

    The future's bright, the future's orange!


    We have created a mixed case for those wanting to try a variety of Orange wines....

    This fantastic case includes: 2 bottles of Jakot Nando, a light, aromatic Slovenian wine; 2 bottles of Toscana Bianco Procanico, a robust and rare Tuscan variety; 2 bottles of Baby Bandito Stay Brave, a lovely, entry level offering from Craig Hawkins. It also includes: 2 bottles of Marius et Simione from the Mountains; 1 bottle of Radikon Jakot from the King of Orange Wines in Friuli; 1 bottle of Courbissac l'Orange; 1 bottle of Zagreo Fiano from Campania, rich and complex and a bottle of Cattarato by Aldo Viola. Enjoy!

    Free Postage for Mainland UK with this case.

    (See also our 6 bottle Orange Wine case and other mixed cases in our Mixed Cases Section)

  • It is often noted that the best wines come from the very limits of vine growing capabilities – the coolest climates, the most extreme terroirs – and mountain wines are no exception. You might think that snow capped mountains seem like a stupid place to plant vines, but there is certainly method in the madness! Continue reading

  • Ahead of our upcoming Portuguese wine tasting, with Niepoort wine maker Nick Delafore, we thought we’d take you on a little history of Port, one of wine’s most interesting stories, steeped in conflict and gout.

    Port’s origins are of course deeply rooted in Portugal, Continue reading

  • Pet Nat is one of the recent crazes in the wine world. Short for Pétillant Naturel, which is French for natural fizz, this form of bubbles is delighting fans of Prosecco and Champagne alike, and we’re seeing more weird and wonderful incarnations cropping up. Continue reading

  • Out of Africa - Wild Wines by Craig Hawkins - South Africa's Natural Wine Pioneer.


    Not just wacky labels, but an artisan small producer making natural wine who had his experimental 2011 Cortez rejected by the South African Wine and Spirits Board for being too natural:
    "The very first wine I ever made for myself was a 6-week skin macerated white wine (now called orange wines) from a 46-year-old Chenin Blanc vineyard on Lammershoek in the Swartland. It was beautiful. I loved it in all ways possible, it had soft tannins, a nose like nothing I had smelt before and it looked like liquid gold. I was in love, like a mother would be of her first born. I managed in time to scrape enough money together.....  Continue reading

  • D is for Dry A-Z of wine: D - Dry

    Blogs about wine get so dry don’t they. Sorry about that! We do try! But what does that even mean? What does it mean to be dry? Well when we’re talking about wine, we're literally referring to the amount of sugar that’s left in a wine after the fermentation. Continue reading

  • Unassuming but magnificent wines

    Alain Castex and his partner Ghislaine were two of the original ‘Garagistas’, small vigneron/wine makers whose limited means forced them to make wine literally ‘in the Garage’, in their case, an old Citroen car garage borrowed from a friend.  The original vineyard purchased in the early 90s and the one which made them famous is called Le Casot de Mailloles and is based on the steep schistous slopes above the Mediterranean in Banyuls.  Continue reading

  • Chardonnay, or as I like to call it affectionately, ‘Cardonnay’*. Perhaps wine’s most misunderstood grape. I have lost count of the number of times people have said ‘I hate Chardonnay’, and then proceeded to buy a Chablis – 100% Chardonnay without the word on the label. Continue reading

  • B for BacchusFor the second in our A-Z series, I’ve chosen to talk about Bacchus, a lesser known grape variety that has played a big role in the success of English wines of late.

    Bacchus is a variety made by crossing the Sylvaner X Riesling hybrid with Muller-Thurgau, which was first developed in the Pfalz region of Germany in the 1930s. It’s a pretty hardy grape variety which tends towards high sugar and early ripening, which is perfect for Britain’s marginal climate, and as a result is now the 4th most planted grape in England. Grown elsewhere and its lack of acid can lead to flabby wines, but here, the cooler temperatures and shorter ripening season ensures that the fresh acidity is retained, producing wines which have been likened to Sancerre and other crisp Sauvignons. Continue reading

  • In day to day life, the only yeasts we tend to come across are ‘dried active bread yeast’ or the sort that you need a cream for (and the less said about those, the better). However, hundreds of strains of yeast occur naturally all around us. In vineyards, certain strains will cling to the grapes and the cellars, so crush grapes in a barrel and the yeasts will set to work converting sugar into alcohol. Without this step, the wine is just grape juice (and probably not very nice at that!) Continue reading

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