Skin Contact Tracing?
Orange or Amber wine seems to be the new kid on the block. Popping up in wine bars, restaurants, and the best bottle shops (wink), you could be forgiven for thinking that this delicious, food-friendly style is some new innovation from the talented winemakers around the world.
In fact, orange wine is very old. Coming originally from the Caucasus region (now mainly modern-day Georgia), there is evidence of these skin-contact wines being produced around 8000 BC. It appears to be one of the earliest methods of wine production, pre-dating the Romans by quite some time.
So what exactly is it?
In very simple terms, it's a wine made from white grapes, but vinified in the manner of a red. That is to say, the grapes are crushed and left to macerate on their skins for a period of time - anywhere from one week to 12 months. This maceration extracts flavour compounds, phenolic compounds (that provide texture and grip), and colour - hence the orange or amber hues of the wines.
The exciting thing about orange wines (apart from being utterly delicious!) is that there are no limits to style, variety or profile. They can be made using any white grape - single variety or blend - and they can be vinified in a number of different ways, all producing vastly different wines. For example, the traditional amber wines from Georgia are fermented and aged in ceramic vessels known as "Qvevri," which are buried in the ground to stabilise the temperature, and then left for months or sometimes years. This technique has been adopted by a number of modern-day winemakers, seeking to emulate the original production methods. But there are also producers using traditional oak barriques to ferment and mature their wines, as well as those using stainless steel tanks and everything in between. The sky's the limit!
To showcase all things skin-contact, we've put a special collection together, from both local producers and all over the world.
Either way, you're bound to enjoy the bottles we've selected. No matter if this is your first foray into skin-contact wines, or you're a hardened amber fan, there are drops here to appeal to all wine lovers.
Click here to see some skin.
Spotlight on Sherry
And if skin-contact tracing isn't enough to get you excited whilst you are locked down at home, then it's time to hit the flor!
Flor is the thin layer of indigenous yeast that forms over the top of the wine as it ages in the barrel, protecting it from oxidation, and imparting the unique salty and tangy flavour that is, Sherry.
Yes, contrary to popular misconception, or the contents of your great aunt's cupboard, not all Sherry is sweet.
Whilst Sherries made from the very ripe, sun-raisined grape varietals Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel are perfect for your after-dinner treat (especially poured over ice-cream for the easiest and fastest dessert that will wow the crowd when crowds are allowed), many of the Sherries made from Palomino grapes are bone-dry, and are a delicious accompaniment to all things salty. What characterises the Sherries from the drink-now Fino and Manzanilla to the age-worthy Oloroso, Amontillado and Palo Cortado is the presence of the unique flor, or its absence due to fortification of the wine.
Sherry, or Jerez as it is known in Spain, comes from the Sherry Triangle of Andalucía in Spain's south, where the white chalky soils, prevailing winds and warm sunshine create favourable conditions, not just for growing, but also for gently aging the Sherries in their Solera system. But it is the humidity that comes from the warm, seaside location off the Atlantic Ocean that creates the indigenous flor. Producers back home have mimicked this taste with our Australian Sherry-style Apera.
So whip up some simple tapas, and click here to explore the flor!