We had been intrigued by Orange Wine previously but taking courage in both hands and with the lure of visiting Artisan&Vine for the first time, we made the trip to Clapham in search of two rarities neither of which we were going to be able to find in Berry Bros. much less the local supermarket.
Artisan&Vine figured in our short but essential list of outfits specialising in Vin Naturel in the UK (see our blog of 29.6.09).
We were looking for the fabled Pais stocked only by 2 other wine shops outside Chile according to Winesearcher: Huasa, Clos Ouvert, Maule and an example of Orange Wine of which Artisan&Vine list two.
We included the Pais in our blog on Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil but didn't go into detail as to why were 'not appointed' by this wine. It was pleasant enough but it's lightness, almost inconsequentiality came at the cost of an abv of 14.5% as well as a hefty finacial price. Still, hats off to Artisan&Vine for importing it and allowing us to decide for ourselves.
The Orange Wine on the other hand was something not only out of the ordinary but well worth seeking out. The explanation of the term in Artisan&Vine's winelist is as follows;
Artisan&vine are delighted to have a dedicated orange wine section of our menu. Orange wine comes from ripe white grapes that undergo „red wine making‟, ie, transformation of whole healthy ripe grapes into wine, before pressing off the solids (skins, pips & sometimes stems). This is in contrast to „white wine making‟ where grapes are pressed immediately so solids are not utilised. „Rose wine making‟ is „accelerated red wine making‟, ie, grapes are left in contact with solids for a short period before being pressed.
and the description of Slotovino's selection
Malvasia "Ageno", La Stoppa, Emilia-Romagna. 60% Malvasia Aromatico, Ortruga, Trebbiano 12.5% abv Amber in colour with fragrances & tastes of peach, pear & sweet apricot. The colour comes from macerating the grapes in their skins with native yeasts for thirty days prior to maturation, which is done half in stainless steel (for fruitiness) & half in French oak (for nuttiness).
The other Orange Wine on offer was just a little bit more expensive and higher in alcohol;
Trebez 2004, Dario Princic, Gorizia, Friuli, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay 13.5% abv
We poured the former at a Thanksgiving dinner, first as an aperitif and then with the main course, pheasant on this occasion. "Ageno" is not a sweet wine but nor is it really dry. One couldn't call it semi-sweet (ghastly term), maybe semi-dry? It is above all fragrant and floral. It went down a treat even with the most sceptical of us.
So place your order now for Christmas or better still, go to Clapham if you can and with luck, get a tutorial from the charming and knowledgeable Kathryn O'Mara, founder and owner. The restaurant looked enticing, so we are sure a visit would be 'vaut le voyage'.