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What are orange wines ?

No, orange wines aren’t made from oranges, they are white wines that are a result of very unusual production process.

White wines, compared to red ones, are fermented without contact wth skin. The grape juice is separated from skin during the squeezing of the juice and this two parts never see each other again.

In a new winemaking trend, the grape juice from the white grapes is allowed to ferment some or full time with the grape skins. Grape skins contain tannins as well as natural colour and flavour compounds, that are passed to the grape juce. When left to ferment with the skins, the wine becomes less transparent and become yellow in the colour, later turning to the orange hues.

Wines created that way are more full bodied, with more pronounced aromas and flavours. They are mostly made dry.

What differences them from classic white wines, apart from colour and aromas are the tannins. Standard white wine can have tannins that result from aging in an oak barrels, but don’t have them from the skins.

Orange wines are very complex and therefore not recommended for the begginers, but after some time spent in tastng wines, they are worth trying, becouse of expanding popularity among wine community.

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Why does my wine smell and taste like a butter ?

This unique, creamy sensation and butter flavour in your mouth has an unexpected source

During the winemaking proces of a white wine, there is a possibility to carry on a second type of fermentation. It is called Malolactic Fermentation or MLF for short. Special strain of bacteria, naturally occuring in a pressed grape juice converts malic acid into lactic acid in wine.

This process softens and reduces  acidity in wine and creates byproduct aromas and flavours of butter, cheese and cream. Common white grape varieties that are treated using this technique are Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.  For the red ones this process is more common, but does not introduce any new aromas.

White wines affected by it are typically more intense in colour, leaning to the gold hue.
One disadvantage of this process is loss of the most subtle and delicate flavours and aromas like floral and citrus ones.

My wine tastings of wines made with malolactic fermentation:

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Franciacorta – the unknown gem of Italy

When You think about Italian sparkling wine, the first thing that comes to Your mind is a Prosecco. Today, I’ll tell You about his lesser known but more serious cousin – Franciacorta.

Franciacorta is an Italian sparkling wine from Lombardy made by using traditional method of secondary fermentation in bottle same as in French Champagne.

Warm climate, strict regulations, great price to quality ratio and usage of both international and unique local grape Varieties make it an exotic but great alternative to Champagne.

Wine is made by the traditional method of secondary fermentation in the bottle which is called by the locals “Franciacorta method” . Mostly used grapes, apart from local ones are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Wines made from local grapes tend to be more fruity and less acidic.

There is a quality graduation of Franciacorta, based on a time that wine spends on the “less”. Less is a sediment from dead yeast cells, that are responsible for secondary fermentation in the bottle that creates bubbles. The more time wine spends with them, the more nutty and yeasty aromas it develops.
Franciacorta – 18 months
Franciacorta Rosé – 24 months
Franciacorta Satèn – 24 months
Franciacorta millesimato – (declared vintage) 30 months
Franciacorta riserva – 60 months

As You can see, the minimal amount of time the wine spends on the less is higher than for Non Vintage Champagne (15 months) which results in less fruity but more full and elegant notes of almonds and marzipan. The dosage (adding sugar to the final wine) is typically used less often than in champagne region, because Italian winemakers prefer their sparkling wines dry. The driest types of Francciacorta are labelled as Pas Dosé, Dosage Zéro, Pas Opéré or Nature. Sweeter styles in order from the drier to the sweeter are Extra Brut, Brut, Sec and Demi-Sec.

Franciacorta acquired its DOC (special apelation protected by law) status in 1967

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Appassimento, the key to Italy’s divine wines

After you try them, there is no coming back. This concentration of flavours and rich texture is simply irresistible both in dry and sweet wines.

Apassimento is an ancient method of vinification. Harvested grapes are laid on a straw mates to dry on the sunshine. During this process, that can last several months, water from the grape evaporates. This results in 40-70% reduction of grape weight, lowering the quantity of wine that can be produced from it significantly.

Vine made from this grapes (technically raisins) have less tannins, are richer in aromas, higher alcohol content and tend to have more toffee, nutty, brown sugar and fig taste. This way, the Vin Santo, Recioto, Amarone and some Malaga wines are made. Wines produced by this method can be both sweet (by interrupting the fermentation) or dry (by fermenting all the sugar content till the end).

Raisins, that are made by apassimento method, take very long time to ferment, typically about 35-50 days. By drying grapes thus reducing the amount of grape juice, that can be extracted and fermented, this method typically leads to smaller production and higher price tag that follows it in exchange of very concentrated aromas and flavours. Modern version of this method uses special rooms, with artificial heating to assure faster grape drying.

Apassimento method is autochthonous for Itally and there You can find the most wines made with this method.

Check my tastings of wines made with that method: