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TomHill

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Orange Wines....

by TomHill » Sun Feb 24, 2013 9:39 pm

Just picked up an interesting blog by JonBonne on orange wines:
Bonne/OrangeWines

which is based on a Forbes column by RichardBetts:
Betts/OrangeWines

Having tried as many skin-contact white/gris as I can find, I think both of them make a lot of sense.
DavidLynch comments in Betts' blog:
“My thing with orange wines has always been this: they’re more intellectually/romantically appealing than actually pleasurable. And my issue is mainly one of aromatics: obviously these are “white” grape varieties we’re talking about, and whether it’s the skin contact, the oxidative winemaking, or both (probably both), they tend to get stripped of their verve and aromatic high notes as a result of the “orange” agenda. What you’re left with is an aromatically flat — and often forbiddingly tannic — white wine."

which is pretty much my take on these wines.
Having had two orange wines this weekend (WindGap PinotGris '11 and MarjanSimcic Opaka Chard '10), one of which I liked a lot (WindGap) and one of which I found "interesting"; I think his comment is dead-on.
Bonne expresses his pleasure for the (same) WindGap PinotGris and the Forlorn-Hope GWT; two wines w/ which I heartily agree on his opinion. To this, I would add FloridaJim's Isa LakeCnty SauvBlanc...which I doubt Bonne has tried. And Bonne admits that Gravner's amphorae wines don't much move him anymore. Also agree, especially at the $$'s that are charged for them.
Both Betts and Bonne assert that the orange wines can often be taken to extremes, especially when made in an oxidative style. Agree again. As a genre, I find the skin-contact whites made in a reductive manner (a subset, IMHO, of orange wines) are tremendously fascinating. But they need to find that right balance, presumably predicated on the length & degree of skin-contact, where you get a good compromise of the aromatics of a white wine and the raw phenolic character and varietal obliteration of lengthy skin-contact whites. That's where I think the genre will find more fans.
Anyway, both of these blogs are a very interesting read. Highly recommended.
Tom
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Orange Wines....

by David M. Bueker » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:25 pm

I keep trying to like orange wines, but it's not working.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by John S » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:57 am

Me too, although I haven't tasted too many. The "obliteration of varietal character" is what tends to make me less than enthusiastic.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by David Creighton » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:33 pm

these discussions are either confusing or more likely confused. there is no inherent reason why skin contact should make for "the obliteration of varietal character" or lead to oxidative wines. red wines survive these probelms regularly. it seems more likely the combination of skin contact with low sulphur and other winemaking practices. i believe it is Zindt humbrecht who is supposed to give their top rieslings a year of skin contact - no varietal or oxidative problems there. skin contact is critical for fully flavored gewurz - maybe only 6 hours or so but still.......
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Dave Erickson » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:08 pm

I participated in an orange tasting in the fall of 2011. Here are some notes; some of the descriptors are amusing. I like these wines, but I go for the strange stuff anyway. These are without question wines that are far, far away from mainstream tastes.

http://www.winemule.com/2011/10/orange-fourth-color.html
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TomHill

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Yes/No...

by TomHill » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:15 pm

David Creighton wrote:these discussions are either confusing or more likely confused. there is no inherent reason why skin contact should make for "the obliteration of varietal character" or lead to oxidative wines. red wines survive these probelms regularly. it seems more likely the combination of skin contact with low sulphur and other winemaking practices. i believe it is Zindt humbrecht who is supposed to give their top rieslings a year of skin contact - no varietal or oxidative problems there. skin contact is critical for fully flavored gewurz - maybe only 6 hours or so but still.......


Yes/No. David.

No: My experience w/ skin-contact whites, like thru the entire fermentation, rather than just a few hrs, pretty much leads to the obliteration of varietal character as we know it.....because we (or at least..I)
don't have that much familiarity w/ skin-contact whites. If I tasted a bunch of skin-contact SauvBlancs from a variety of different regions, maybe I'd be able to come up w/ a feel for SauvBlanc/skin-contact
varietal character. I don't know.
Yes: Skin-contact whites don't automatically lead to oxidative wines...only if the winemaker chooses to do that style. Gravner/Radikon leave the wines exposed to air post-fermentation..and
they develop an oxidative character. JimCowan & MattRorick choose to make their wines in a reductive fashion (no exposure to air post-fermentation)...and thus no oxidative character.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Victorwine » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:38 am

Generally speaking red wines could have tannin concentrations in the range of 250-2000 mg/l. (sometimes maybe even higher). The major factors that will determine tannin concentration in a finished red wine would be the genetic make up of the red grape varieties used to produce the finished wine, growing, handling and winemaking techniques. Typically the tannin composition of white grapes is similar to that of red grapes. Although there is significant genetic variation between varieties, the major difference between red and white grapes is anthocyanin (the coloring matter) concentration,
Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc have almost identical tannin concentrations the lone exception is anthocyanin concentration. If one could produce a “playful” or “festive” Pinot Noir or a more “serious” Pinot Noir while still “respecting” varietal character to a degree. Why can’t the same be done with Pinot Blanc?

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Re: Orange Wines....

by Howie Hart » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:14 am

FWIW - it's my understanding that the "varietal character" of Gewurtztraminer is obtained by 48-96 hours of skin contact. That being said, making orange wines is like making a red wine, but from white grapes. The whole fermentation process in the presence of skins requires punching down the cap of skins a couple of times a day, thus exposing the wine to a lot more air. This not only contribute to oxidation, but causes the loss of the more volatile aromatics.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Dave Erickson » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:24 pm

Howie Hart wrote:FWIW - it's my understanding that the "varietal character" of Gewurtztraminer is obtained by 48-96 hours of skin contact. That being said, making orange wines is like making a red wine, but from white grapes. The whole fermentation process in the presence of skins requires punching down the cap of skins a couple of times a day, thus exposing the wine to a lot more air. This not only contribute to oxidation, but causes the loss of the more volatile aromatics.


Leaving the wines on the skins (maceration) for weeks and months makes white wines last longer because the skins are a source of tannins, which act as anti-oxidants. There is a catch: While lengthy maceration protects the wine from oxidizing over the long term, the process itself actually increases oxidation during fermentation. Consequently, the wines all have a distinctive oxidative tang that can come across as sherry-like or cider-like.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Florida Jim » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:44 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:While lengthy maceration protects the wine from oxidizing over the long term, the process itself actually increases oxidation during fermentation. Consequently, the wines all have a distinctive oxidative tang that can come across as sherry-like or cider-like.

Dave,
I macerate only until dry, then press to barrel, keep them topped up and add sulphur. Much as one would with a normal red wine ferment.
I have not noticed any sherried or oxidative notes with my whites done this way.

And if I may; why would fermenting whites on the skins be any more oxidative during fermentation than reds?
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:04 pm

Not all orange wines are oxidative, as Jim says. I asked Sandi Skerk why his wines weren't like other 'orange' wines, despite a month of skin contact with regular punchdowns; his very detailed response is here: http://tinyurl.com/as9go4w
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Florida Jim » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:20 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Not all orange wines are oxidative, as Jim says. I asked Sandi Skerk why his wines weren't like other 'orange' wines, despite a month of skin contact with regular punchdowns; his very detailed response is here: http://tinyurl.com/as9go4w

Thanks for the link, Oliver.
I do pretty much what Sandy does, although I do allow a 5-14 day pre-fermentation cold soak, depending on the vintage.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Craig Winchell » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:34 pm

Just this (to counter the discussion specifically of Gewurz): Gewurztraminer does not require any skin contact to have abundant Gewurz character, if fully ripe. If one is picking it at 19-20 brix, in California, it will not have developed much character, and skin contact could be warranted. But with nice brown(ish) berries, it will have all the character it needs. Just crush into the press with rice hulls. Of course, presupposing cool climate fruit. Mine were typically picked at 24-26 brix, so plenty ripe.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Rahsaan » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:59 pm

I don't see the controversy. Sure there are bad wines, but that's true for any style.

Bracketing out the bad wines, I would say that on average orange wines are even more appealing/easier to like (i.e. far from just an 'intellectual pleasure') than regular white wines because they have so much flavor. (Sure you might find some clowns claiming to 'intellectualize' a skunky orange wine experiment, but who cares about them and why bother to write a column about them)

And as it has been mentioned elsewhere, Bea's Santa Chiara is far from 'aromatically flat' and 'forbiddingly tannic' and to me it seems like a wine that is very hard not to like.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by David Creighton » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:16 pm

sherry like character comes from film yeast not oxidation. and fermentation is inherently a reductive process so fermenting on the skins even if it did have oxidative tendencies - which seems counterintuitive - it would be countered by the fermentation itself - basically zero sum.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Craig Winchell » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:16 pm

Sherry-like character comes from acetaldehyde (and other aldehydes). Acetaldehyde is an intermediate in ethanol formation between pyruvate and ethanol. Acetaldehyde can be produced in the other direction from ethanol, or by inhibiting formation of ethanol. Incomplete reduction, or oxidation of the end product (ethanol).
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Florida Jim » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:30 pm

Craig Winchell wrote:Sherry-like character comes from acetaldehyde (and other aldehydes). Acetaldehyde is an intermediate in ethanol formation between pyruvate and ethanol. Acetaldehyde can be produced in the other direction from ethanol, or by inhibiting formation of ethanol. Incomplete reduction, or oxidation of the end product (ethanol).

Craig,
It is always good to hear the chemistry but can you help me apply it to the idea above; that fermenting whites on the skins is possibly more oxidative during fermentation than with reds? It doesn't "seem" right to me but no chemist am I.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Craig Winchell » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:14 pm

Jim, fermentation on skins in small vessels is inherently oxidative, because there is no good way to exclude oxygen. Bin fermentations, for instance, while they give off CO2 which excludes oxygen, have no good way to hold it above the fermenting must, especially during times of punch down or , as they aften do, gently hoeing the cap to mix over a relatively long period of time. Red skins have plenty of monomeric phenolic material which is extracted into the wine, which scavenges oxygen. Whites have less of these O2 scavenging phenolics, and certainly fewer pigments. Thus, a case could be made that the white fermentation is more oxidative. Of course, to know for sure, one could use a redox electrode monitoring the redox state throughout the fermentation, in comparison to a similar red fermentation. I don't know that it has ever been done, given that "orange" wine is such a recent phenomenon. But I suspect it is somewhat more oxidative than a red fermentation for other reasons as well- a white wine fermented on skins is likely to be a whole cluster fermentation as well, and this would preclude most large, closed tanks because of the difficulty of pumping over, or sluicing or otherwise removing skins from them. And "orange wines" are also less likely to be made in large, well established, well capitalized wineries because they are less likely to be a commercial success. So figure smaller, more shallow fermentation vessels will be more likely, less easy to exclude O2.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Howie Hart » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:32 pm

Exposure to oxygen during fermentation is necessary for the yeast to ferment properly. Punching down the cap accomplishes this. What I see with orange wine is not necessarily an oxidized wine, but because of the greater surface area being exposed, the more of the delicate, floral and fruity aromatic components of the wine will be lost. The wine would also pick up other, less volatile aromatics from the skins, along with tannins, so the wine would have a very different character. I've never made an orange wine, but it might be interesting for the sake of experience.
EDIT: The effectiveness of a CO2 blanket in a primary fermentation vessel is dependent on how full the vessel is. I never fill mine more than 2/3 full, the cap may rise to 3/4 full and I punch down gently.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Victorwine » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:29 pm

Because of the “modern way “ of producing white wines phenolic composition in white wines is overlooked. In a study of white chimera in a Pinot Noir red cluster (a cluster of grapes with half red and half white grapes) showed no difference in more than 30 phenolic compounds except for 5 anthocyanins compounds found only on the red Pinot Noir side. Like Jim and others, I wouldn’t expect a white grape/skin fermentation to be more “oxidized” than red grape/ skin ferment. Maybe it has to do with the visual signs of “oxidation”, lighter color wines “gain” color and its just more noticeable. (But than again the chemistry of an “orange wine” is now different from a “white wine” produced from the same white grapes).

Howie, as mentioned in Oliver’s interview and Jim’s post) just as in red wine production there are certain techniques that can be used to enhance “fruitiness”, why can’t the same techniques be used for “orange wine” production? Besides “headspace” there is also surface area to consider. I’m sure after “punching down” the cap you cover the fermentation vessel. I use a food grade plastic sheeting and bungee cord. Upon immediately covering the vessel the sheet starts to “bubble-up” (actually I use the ‘bubble” as a “tell-tale” sign when its time to perform another punch down).

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Re: Orange Wines....

by Florida Jim » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:45 am

These are the discussions that keep me coming back; thanks gents.
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Yup...

by TomHill » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:54 am

Florida Jim wrote:These are the discussions that keep me coming back; thanks gents.
Best, Jim

Yup..agree, Jim...a very interesting thread. I can't contribute anything (can't even make stuff up), but it's
great being a fly on the wall as you guys that know something discuss.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Tom Troiano » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:58 am

I second/third Tom's/Jim's comments. Thanks all.
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Re: Orange Wines....

by Craig Winchell » Wed Feb 27, 2013 11:55 am

The chemistry involved might just as well be voodoo to most, including most winemakers. Fermentation is an energy pathway requiring absolutely no oxygen, and most fermentative organisms, including most yeasts, can respire as well, which is the preferable method because the organism derives more energy per unit sugar. But fermentation can proceed to completion totally anaerobically. Sometimes, winemakers like to get as much oxygen mixed up into the wine as possible, to potentially change the redox state and potentially inhibit production of reduced sulfur compounds. I think that may be what Howie is saying when he says, "Exposure to oxygen during fermentation is necessary for the yeast to ferment properly." Victorwine points out that there are mechanical methods of preserving a CO2 environment immediately over the fermentation, but of course, these work best at times when fermentation is vigorous, not at the very start or end of the fermentation, and certainly not during any prolonged maceration, or during cap management. The discussion of Pinot chimera is proof of nothing, since orange wine is typically made from varieties other than those producing red wine, whose skin chemistry in the phenolic arena is likely different (the white Pinot is almost identical genetically to the red, and so one would assume similarity in skin phenolics). If I wanted to, though, there are probably comparisons of skin phenolics of various different varieties of grapes somewhere in the AJEV. I had fun with this, and think we covered most of the issues. I will say, however, that my associate made a bin of orange Arneis this year, and had intense production of sulfides (which one would expect given any elemental sulfur on the skins from powdery control). To the extent that copper is used to control the H2S, it might also serve to oxidize other compounds and add another layer to this discussion.
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