Over the years it feels like we’ve sampled nearly every type of French wine – every color, grape, blend, age, technique, region, etc. But last fall we discovered a wine we’d never before tasted in France: orange wine.
Also called vins de maceration (skin-contact wines), orange are wines made from white wine grapes but vinified like reds. Most white wine is pressed off its skins before fermentation; red wines ferment with their skins (the source of their color). “Orange” wines are made from white grapes but fermented with their skins.
Today we’re excited to introduce our first ever two orange wines. They’re both from the our new source in Alsace, Vincent Gross.
Gross’s oranges wines are made from Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, varietals whose skins are purple but whose juice is clear. Gross leaves both cuvées on the skins for 26 days before pressing, then raises them 10 months in large foudres. The technique extracts tannins and other elements from the skins, and results in a complex and fascinating palate.
The Gewurztraminer Neuweg VDM offers a wonderfully spicy nose along with what resembles the citrusy hops of a summertime session beer. The spicy nose creates an expectation of sweetness on the palate, but in the mouth the wine is completely dry. The texture is lovely, substantial but showing plenty of energy — look for notes of wild berries and white pepper.
The Pinot Gris Osperling VDM is also mouthfilling and rich on the palate, but without a hint of sweetness. The nose is savory and dry, with notes of herbal honey and dried flowers. There’s ripe stone fruit with good supporting acidity and hints of salinity in the mouth, making the finish clean and precise with notes of anice and citrus.
These aren’t likely to become your new house wine. But they’ll pair beautifully with spring vegetables and strong cheeses (think real Munster a tomme from Alsace). Give them a try — we doubt you’ll be disappointed, and we guarantee you won’t be bored.
Gross Gewurztraminer VDM 2016
bottle price: $32
Gross Pinot Gris VDM 2016
bottle price: $32
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