Varietal of the Month: Orange Wine

Marcy Gordon on Aug 22, 2023


Orange wines aka skin-contact or amber wines are having a moment —an ongoing moment that started 8,000 years ago. Simply put, orange wines are white grape varieties made in the manner of red wines with extended contact on the skins, resulting in wines full of texture that are both elegant and complex as well as bright and quaffable. They range from light and bouncy to deep and savory and pair exceptionally well with a wide array of food. 

Here are capsule reviews of Orange-style wines you may find along the Wine Road.

CAST 2021 Grenache Blanc, Russian River Valley
The CAST 2021 Grenache Blanc, Front Porch Farm from Russian River Valley is a light caramel color in the glass. On the nose, bright lemon zest with peach preserves and honeysuckle. On the palate, it’s juicy with subtle notes of juniper and clove. As it opens and warms notes of jasmine tea, lemon peel, eucalyptus and a captivating spicy linalool note as well. It’s ever-evolving in the glass. On the finish, notes of apple, grapefruit peel, and toasty almond. In short, it’s an exciting kaleidoscope of flavors with great vitality and harmony. Eminently pair-able, enjoy with Pad Thai.

ABV 13.3%
$36 (Shop Here)

D’Argenzio Winery & Anthesis Wines
Anthesis Wines 2016 Falanghina
You don’t come across too much Falanghina locally, but its’ thrill when you do. Falanghina lends itself well to orange-style winemaking and this example showcases the complexity of flavors. Deep dark amber in the glass, the Anthesis Alla Vecia 2016 Falanghina is a delight with aromas of honey, mango, dried pineapple and a touch of tomato leaf. On the palate, it’s lyrical and layered with notes of citrus peel, and nutmeat, like almond. It has a long lingering spicy clove finish. Pair with ceviche or garlic prawns.

ABV 12.5%
$55 (Shop Here)

DeLoach Vineyards
DeLoach Vineyards 2021 Ribolla Gialla, Russian River Valley

The DeLoach Vineyards 2021 Ribolla Gialla from Russian River Valley is light amber in color. On the nose, lemon and thyme with a touch of brioche and honey. On the palate, great body and texture with a cascade of flavor from orange marmalade, and marjoram, to notes of butterscotch. The long finish is zesty with crisp apple and herbal tea and a pleasing note of thyme. Enjoy now but with some age the flavors will develop and deepen. Pair with chicken piccata with extra lemon and capers.

ABV 14.5%
$80 (Shop Here)

Kokomo Winery & Breaking Bread Winery
Breaking Bread 2022 Marmalade

The Breaking Bread Marmalade 2022 Skin Contact Wine is a many splendored thing composed of 70% Muscat Blanc, 15% Chardonnay and 15% Sauvignon Blanc. In the glass, the color is a soft butter yellow, like diffused sunlight. It’s super bright and vibrant with a beguiling scent of orange blossoms, grapefruit, and honeysuckle. It smells so good you may be tempted to dab a bit at your pulse points in lieu of fragrance – but resist the urge and pour a glass instead. On the palate waves of savory flavor come though with mandarin and butterscotch, ripe peach, and a sunny hit of gooseberry and grapefruit. It has a magical quality and vitality that shimmers to a satisfying finish. Simply delicious! Pair with California sushi rolls.

ABV 12.9%
$26 (Shop Here)

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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