Orange Wine Presentation

Orange Wine Tasting
Orange wine refers to white grapes being processed like red wine where the fermentation includes the skins and sometimes the stems.  As a result of the presence of the skins, phenolic compounds are extracted resulting in an orange colour.  This is returning to the roots of winemaking where Georgia is one of the earliest homes of grape growing and winemaking.  In this early era there were no machines and hence winemaking was all done by hand and there were no additives; minimal intervention.  Georgia is also home to amphora (Qvevri) which are clay vessels and often buried in the ground.  Burying helps maintain a constant temperature during fermentation and minimise oxidation.  Winemaking like many  things follows trends and fashion.  In the 90's there was a big movement towards automation and clean, New World winemaking techniques.  Almost in retaliation to this clean, commercial and sometimes sterile form of winemaking, many producers are trying to make wines with little or no intervention; the way they were orginally.  Typically Orange wines are not fined or filtered and hence often cloudy.  Usually little or no sulphur dioxide is used to protect the wine from oxidation.  The tannins extracted from the skins and/or stems helps to protect the wine from oxidation.  Most producers use grapes grown organically or even biodynamically but there are no specific rules, unless the winery/vineyard adheres to one of the many forms of Organic or Biodynamic certification programs.  

Orange Wines from New Zealand:

Mt Edward Clockwork 2014
An equal blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay.
Riesling and Pinot Gris came from Opiki Vineyard in the Cromwell basin, with soils consisting of gravels and a wind blown loess.  Managed conventionally
Chardonnay came from a vineyard on the other side of the road from Rippon, Wanaka.  The vineyard has glacial soils and is managed organically.
Each variety was picked separately; the Riesling and Pinot Gris early in April and the Chardonnay mid-April.  
The varieties were fermented separately.  Three barrels had the head boards removed and the destemmed grapes were put inside to completely fill each barrel.  The head boards replaced and the barrels positioned on a rack for fermentation.  Obviously there was no plunging or cap management, only topping to keep the barrels full.
Total cuvasion for each variety was 1 month, then the head boards were again removed and the wine pressed.  Each variety was then blended together and the blend was put into stainless steel barrels.  20ppm SO2 was added at this early stage.  Elevage was for one year in these SS barrels and then the wine was bottled directy via gravity from the barrels to bottle.
No more SO2 was added prior to bottling.
Duncan Forsythe believes making the Orange wine helps him to understand the impact that total time on skins has on the aromatics and structure of the resulting wines.  His first vintage (2013) had a total cuvasion of 8 months, 2014 had 1 month and the 2015 was in between these two.  As a result of these experiments it has influenced all of his other white wines in that they all have a degree of skin contact.  He is still experimenting and learning what is the right thing for each white wine.  

Pyramid Valley Vineyards Growers Series Kerner Estate Vineyard - Marlborough, Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris/Gewurztraminer - Fermented on Skins "Orange" - 2014
The vineyard is located in the Waihopai Valley.  This site is slightly elevated and is some distance from the sea.  Therefore, the temperatures are cooler, meaning the grapes ripen more slowly, retaining and intensifying their flavour.  2.7 tonnes/acre from this gifted site, whose cool macroclimate protects the lifted and fresh aromatics, while healthy, dense soils provide length and concentration.  Soils consist of a silty loam.  This vineyard has been managed by Mike and Claudia Weersing since 2006.  Previously it was handled conventionally and the vines were pruned using VSP where 4 canes were laid down.  Quickly they converted it to dry farming, laying only 2 canes, using an undervine weeder instead of herbicides and has since been certified Organic.  This conversion process took 3-4 years and especailly to see the increased quality of grapes that allowed the production of a Natural Orange wine.  

Selectively picked, for perfect fruit, knowing this wine would spend time on skins; no botrytis or slip skin berries.  Sorted again at the winery, then destemmed, and transferred to tank.  Grapes were put into 5 different vats layering each variety in a different configuration.  One vat had 1/3 Pinot Blanc then 1/3 Pinot Gris with the Gewurztraminer on top.  There were various combinations made in the 5 vats.  There was a vineyard yeast fermentation using a pied de cuve from grapes picked 2 weeks prior to the harvest, natural malolactic, and one month on skins before being lightly pressed in their tiny basket press.  Each vat was gently piegeage by foot and near the end of the fermentation, hands were used to fold the berries at the top down into the vat or taking a bucket of fermenting juice from the bottom and pouring it over the skins on top.  After pressing the wine settled for two months and then transferred to old oak barrels.  Bottled on the Summer Equinox; neither fined nor filtered.
Alcohol 13%, TA 4.5g/l, RS <1g/l.  Contains no added sulphites.  Only 175 cases produced.
Lush and ripe and juicy, almost non-confrontational for a wine in this style, but still focused and driven by phenolics.

The Hermit Ram Skin Fermented Muller Thurgau 2015
 Vineyard: Lone Goat, Burnham, the old Giesen vineyard with Muller planted in 1980 on own roots.
Soil: Canterbury gravels with low levels of silt
Winemaking: Hand picked, grapes sorted in the winery and destemmed into two fermenters, no SO2 at harvest.
Two fermenters; one in an open topped concret vat and the other was an egg shaped vat.
Open topped concret vat had Muller on skins for 6 weeks.  Each day the vat was gently pumped over to wash the cap and give air to the yeast.  For the last 1/3 of the ferment the vat was gently foot plunged until dryness.  The vat was pressed and stored in old barrels.
Egg shaped ferment:  same processing; destemmed but was left on skins for 168 days with the same cap management as the open topped vat.  Malo occurred naturally on skins.  After 168 days this vat was pressed and the free run wine was blended with the wine from the open topped vat.  This wine was stored in barrel and then racked into a tank and the 168 day skin contact wine was blended into the same tank.
Bottling occurred one week after blending with 20ppm SO2.
Theo believes that Muller is very prone to oxidation and low levels of SO2 help retain fruit freshness.
pH 3.9 and Ta 3.8
Aromas and flavours of exotic brown spice and ginger, almost Galangal.  This wine gains structure from the phenolic on the finish rather than acidity.

Muddy Water Growers Series Skin Fermented Pinot Gris 2015
100% hand picked Pinot Gris (two clones 2-15 and 2-21 on compact calcareous clay) Grown at Greystone Vineyard situated on gentle North facing slopes.
There were just over 3 Tonnes in total.  1.5 T fermented on skins in the winery (35 days on skins). 1.5 T fermented on skins in the vineyard from the rows that the grapes were picked from, ( also spent 35 days – outside in the vineyard). Light hand plunged in open top fermenters.  A very small volume of grapes 250Kg were fermented in an old oak barrel with the head board removed.  This ferment had stems included and spent 9 months with skins and stems in amphora after the initial 35 days in the old oak.
The 1.5 T lots were pressed off skins and transferred into neutral French oak where they went through full natural MLF.  Each component was blended and estate bottled without fining, filtration or any sulphur adds ( no additions ).  This has zero FSO2.

Orange Wines from the EU and Russia:

Friuli-Venezia Giulia – North-East Italy Friuli is the north easternmost region of Italy, and borders on Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east and has long been a confluence of three distinct peoples and cultures: Italian, Germanic, and Slavic. It is considered one of the more interesting and distinctive winemaking regions of Europe in the present day.
PRINCIC DARIO, Gorizia, Friuli – Biodynamic, Natural, Dario Princic makes his wines near the town of Oslavia in northeastern Italy, very close to the border with Slovenia. Here limestone predominates. The dry winds are an aid to organic viticulture, which Princic has been practising for more than twenty years. He is one of the founding members of Vini Veri, an association of Italian natural wine producers.

Ribolla Gialla, native to Friuli, the earliest mention of this variety dates back to 1296.  It is mid ripening and susceptable to millerandage and rot.  Low fertility.  Traditionally wines from this variety have been light bodied, high in acidity and slightly floral.  More innovative producers are now producing more concentrated and characterful versions with deep yellow colour and rich yellow fruit flavours.   Gravner being one of the most famous producers growing and making this variety. 

The grapes are processed a la red wine, with 20 days on skins and punch downs, followed by 2 years ageing in vat. The result is what has been described as an “Orange” wine, where the skin contact and resultant phenolic pick-up has given the wine an amber colour. It is bottled unfiltered and with a relatively small sulphur dioxide add, so turbidity can also be a feature of this wine. 

ZIDARICH, Duino Aurisina, Carso, Friuli – Biodynamic, Natural Carso is the thin slice of land connecting Trieste to the main mass of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Officially speaking, this is Italy, but, as is the case all along Italy’s border with Slovenia, the wine culture transcends national boundaries. Winegrowing Carso extends well beyond the border into Slovenia (as does winegrowing Collio further north), and its trio of peculiar local grapes – the whites Vitovska and Malvasia and a strain of the red Refosco known as Terrano – are uniquely Slavic contributions to the “Italian” viticultural whole. Carso is a limestone-rich plateau that extends out from the city of Trieste and reaches toward the Julian Alps to the north. The heavy limestone content of the soils likely gave the zone its name (Carso is thought to be derived from a Celtic word meaning “land of rock”). Zidarich is located in Prepotto, near Duino Aurisina. Jagged chalky rock is the keynote of Carso viticulture, which is carried out on small terraces of red, iron-rich soil that have been reclaimed from the woodland. This lends the wines the characteristic acidity and mineral notes. 

Vitovska is a rare white varietal native to the Carso area. It was rescued in the 80s by Zidarich and a handful of other winegrowers, including Vodopivec.  It’s a natural cross between Prosecco and Malvasia Bianca Lunga. Zidarich’s Vitovska is hand harvested from vineyards at 280m elevation (planted at 8-10000 vines/ha) de-stemmed and spontaneously fermented on skins with punchdowns for around 15 days, before aging for 2 years in larger format Slavonian oak. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.

GEORGIA  is an independent state of the former Soviet Union between the Black Sea and the High Caucasus. It is one of the birthplaces of wine culture and wild vines, indeed wine's name itself is of Georgian origin - "Gvino" and October, harvest month, is named "Gvinobistve" (the month of wine). Wild Vitis Vinifera Silvestris vines are still widely distributed across the country. Archaeologists and historians have discovered evidence and material artefacts including seven thousand year old grape seeds and antique vessels (pruning knives, stone presses etc.) as well as written testimony of foreign chroniclers and travellers. There are more than 500 identifiable varieties to be found, of which 38 are officially allowed for winemaking.

Rkatsiteli is one of the most ancient grape varieties in Georgia, DNA studies showing that it’s very closely related to local wild varietals. It isn’t however rare (at least not in Georgia!) with about 19500 Ha planted.  A mid ripening variety that is hardy, resistant to winter frost and summer droughts.  Large triangular bunches weighing up to 1kg each but with small berries.  Grapes can reach high sugar levels while still retaining high acidity.  

PHEASANT’S TEARS, Kakheti Region, Georgia – Organic, Natural Pheasant’s Tears is owned by three individuals in equal shares: John Wurdeman: Wine Tourism/Idea Person/Public Voice/Sales; Gela Patalashvili: Vinedresser/Winemaker, and Georgian Wine Legacy: a small Swedish importer of wine set up to facilitate small sales volumes in the EU. They make a number of wines from low cropped, native Georgian varietals, in the traditional Georgian style in Qvevri sunk into the ground. Grapes are destemmed then a portion of stems is added back. The wines, white and red spend between three weeks and six months on skins, depending on the varietal. They are all attractive and approachable, extremely interesting wines. The skin contact whites come into their own with food that compliments their extra structure. The white Rkatsiteli is from 30 year old vines, and has 30 days on skins, giving a nice perfume and some gentle tannin structure. 

Southern Pinot Workshop 2016

An amazing learning forum and lots of great Burgundies to share.  Heaven

French Themed Dinner

French Themed Dinner

This is an annual conference held in Hanmer Springs, North Canterbury, New Zealand.  All winemakers and viticulturalists worldwide are welcome.  We all gather to learn how to grow better grapes and make the best Pinot Noir from these grapes.  This year the guest speaker was Greg La Follette who has incredible scientific knowledge about vitculture and winemaking.  Most people specialise in one area not both; unlike Greg.  All delegates benefited immensely from his extensive knowledge.

Famous Chefs: Graham and Al Brown

Famous Chefs: Graham and Al Brown

Not only do we learn, share experiences and knowledge but we bring in our own incredible chefs; Al and Graham Brown who cook exquisite dishes for 3 nights.  We eat like we are kings and queens; food to die for.  

On top of this we all bring exciting wines from the world that we would like to share with like-minded colleagues.

Again what more can I say other than Heaven.


How to Taste a Wine

Part One:

Wine is my ultimate passion and I understand that it can be an over-whelming topic for a lot of people. Wine is one of those unique products that has millions of brands within one group and hence it becomes very confusing to remember and understand for most people.

Not only are there millions of producers but many different countries and regions within these countries that produce wine and from thousands of different varieties; not to mention all the rules and regulations associated with wine. No one person knows everything about wine and how to grow grapes which makes it exciting for some and then confusing for most other people.


I have made these videos as an introductory step to teach people one of the first processes necessary when learning to understand a little about wine; that of how to taste wine and recognise quality.

I aim to teach this in a fun and relaxed setting to encourage even the novice person that wine is an amazing drink which is exciting and interesting. How much you want to learn is up to you. Be aware though, it can take over your life; it has mine!

Part Two:

I would like to thank the amazing Bronnie Howells who did all the filming and editing for this video. Without her it would still be an idea and you would not be learning how to taste wine.

Tongue in Groove Pinot Noir Harvest 2014

Gorgeous morning, perfect for the first day of picking. The Pinot Noir grapes taste great, with good seed ripeness.

March 28th: When the grapes come in we sort through them carefully for any imperfections. We're looking for very clean fruit, no botrytis, good flavours and good ripeness. Sugar levels were 24.2 Brix. For non-winemakers Brix is a measurement of sugar and 1 Brix = 10g/l of sugar. Different countries use different systems for measuring the sugar at harvest. New Zealand uses Brix but Australia (for example) uses Baume.

March 30th: The Pinot was put into fermenting vats and has been chilled to stop fermentation. This is called a 'cold soak'. Why do a cold soak? It helps extract fruit aromas and flavours as well as water soluble tannins. Different types of tannins are also extracted once the fermentation starts as the alcohol level increases. Typically I do a cold soak for 5 to 6 days but every winemaker has different ideas.

This photo shows pumping over which involves sucking the juice from a long skinny sieve (which holds back the skins) and spreading juice from below over the grapes at the top. This mixes the vat and keeps the berries fresh on the top.


April 3rd: Whole bunches of Pinot have been put directly into a vat. I am using between 30 and 40% this year and destem the rest of the bunches on top. Whole bunches in the fermentation give distinctive aromas and flavours to the wine. They also build structure, produce fine grain chalky tannins and enhance texture and mouthfeel.

April 5th:We have fermentation. The first lot of Pinot picked on Friday 28th started fermenting on Thursday 3rd after six days of cold soak. I heated the grapes up to 18 degrees to encourage the good natural yeast to start fermenting. As you can see in the photo the skins are rising up due to CO2 production, a by-product from the yeast fermenting. The cap (skins that rise up) is plunged twice daily to aid extraction of colour and tannins from the skins and to keep them fresh. The number of plunges daily does depend on the variety, season and winemaker.

April 8th: I have been neglecting my blogging duties – that tends to happen when you make wine; those grapes and yeast are very needy! My fermentation is cranking now and this photo is of a density meter, basically a digital hydrometer which reads how much sugar is left to ferment. The first couple of days were slow and the temperature was around 20 to 23 degree and 3 or 4 Brix of sugar were converted to alcohol. The meter shows that 15.6 Brix still remains and that the ferment is starting to race. Within the next 24 hours 8 to 10 Brix will be converted to alcohol by the yeast and the temperature as a result of the fermentation will rise to 31 - 33 degrees. It can go much higher but depends on the volume of grapes. Bigger volumes can generate very high levels of heat, over 35 -36 degrees and the yeast will start to die. Today the ferment was 2 Brix which basically means the ferment has peaked (as most of the available sugar has been converted to alcohol) and the fermentation is slowing down, producing less heat. The fermentation will go more slowly for the next few days until all the sugar is converted to alcohol and the yeast die.


April 14th: Beauty in a vat; a fully fermenting vat of Pinot Noir, gorgeous froth as a result of the yeast converting sugar to alcohol and producing CO2 and heat.

April 14th: Unlike the last photo which is bright and beautiful this photo shows the skins later in the process. First there is a cold soak then the fermentation and then post fermentation maceration. Maceration is the name for the time that the wine sits with the skins after the fermentation has finished and no sugar is left. There is less CO2, the cap drops as does the temperature. Lots of the colour has been extracted from the skins and the alcohol now helps extract the alcohol extractable tannins. This results in more fine grain, mouth coating tannins and typically post fermentation maceration lasts for about a week. The total time that the wine is in contact with the skins is around three weeks. Again this is winemaker dependent.

April 19th:Now it's the fun time. The first vat has finished its fermentation and for about the last 6 days the skins have been sitting in the wine (post fermentation maceration). I've been tasting the vats every day. I take a sample in a small bottle; let it settle for a few hours and taste. By doing this daily it allows me to see the development of the tannins. The alcohol helps leech out more tannins and with time they form longer chains (polymerisation). This gives softer more silky tannins in the wine and produces more complex, savoury flavours. In the next day or so I will press the wine, separating the wine from the skins and then the wine will go to barrel.

April 23rd: Pressing time. After 22 days from when the grapes were first put in the vat wine has been created and now it's time to separate the wine from the skins. As you can see from the first photo I am pumping the wine sitting with the skins into a different empty vat using a sieve to hold back the skins. In the second photo I am bucketing the skins into a small vat which can be rotated into the press. There was 2.2 tonnes of fruit in that vat; a great workout. Once the skins are all in the press, it gently squeezes out the wine. I taste regularly and once it tastes firm due to the extra tannins being squeezed from the skins the press is stopped. The wine is now ready to go to barrel.