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#Orangewine | the future’s bright

Arnold Holzer

I’m not going to lie to you there are some truly breathtakingly awful examples out there

We at Hennings are never afraid of looking to the future and discovering new and exciting things. In this case, if I may use the phrase of a recently merged telecoms giant, ‘…the future’s orange’! Yes, the future is here and it’s orange wines.

For those that have heard of this stuff before, you’ll know that its usual home is in the trendiest of trendy London hipster joints, with a beard and several tattoos being a pre-requisite to entry. However and to the tune of many a chuckle it is becoming increasingly more main-stream. So for those of you that haven’t heard of them before orange wines are essentially white wines made in a way that you would a red wine – basically keeping the skins in contact with the wine for varying periods of time.

The resulting wine has a much more intense nose and palate with much more texture, even tangible tannins in some cases, and the colour of the wine (that comes primarily from the skins in every wine) develops an orange colour. The colour depends on how long the wine has spent in contact with the skins, and in the case of the two we have decided on, ranging from a golden hue to vivid orange.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you there are some truly breathtakingly awful examples out there and we tasted a couple of heinous ones very recently including one that tasted like Deep Heat! The sarcastic undertones of the often heard words ‘you have a tough job’ never rang truer than in this particular tasting. As we soldiered on we came across two that we thought were actually really very good, but in very different ways.

Our first choice is a Pinot Grigio, but this is no ordinary Pinot Grigio and I suggest that if you were after a Pinot Grigio in the first place you’ll be more confused than a chameleon in a bag of Skittles when you uncork it. This hails from Abruzzo in Italy and is essentially a ‘beginners’ orange wine whereby it has been left on the skins for just enough time to develop a bit of texture and a bit of colour along with some intensity on the nose and palate. Chill this down, pair it with some light food, perhaps some spicy food and you are on to a winner! It will certainly generate conversation around your dining table!

The next offering is from Austria and is made from a grape called Roter Veltliner, an obscure ancient variety that usually makes powerfully intense white wines. The vivid orange colour should not fool you, this is not a sweet wine. It is intense, peppery and spicy. Those of you brave enough to try it will be confused no doubt, as it is unlike any wine you will have tasted before and as such cannot be directly compared to any other. It is fruity and powerful with a nice level of acidity and soft tannins. The fact it looks so whacky in the glass should be considered an added bonus.  Jokes aside it is however great for matching with richer dishes as it can stand up to most things without the need to resort to a bottle of red. When a white or red could work I would urge you to go straight down the middle with an orange wine instead.

Wine can be incredibly varied and interesting and I think it’s worth celebrating that people are pushing the boundaries in order for us to try something new. Yes, you may get some odd looks from those you’re serving it to, but I think that’s part of the fun! You may also think it’s awful but I’ll let you decide for yourselves.

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Quinta de SantAna Portugal

There's no missing Quinta de SantAna

Indigenous grape varieties such as Fernão Pires and Touriga Nacional sit happily alongside international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir at Quinta de SantAna.

On a recent trip to Portugal I found myself negotiating hair pin turns on a mission to seek out the hidden gem that is Quinta de SantAna. Nestled in the hills some 35km or so North of Lisbon I found myself rounding the final corner and being greeted by the unmistakably yellow estate. For James Frost and his wife Ann, this place signifies so much more than a home for themselves and their seven sons.

Ann’s side of the family, the Von Fürstenburgs, owned and lived at the predominantly arable estate until the revolution in 1974 when the family returned to Germany and the gates were closed. A family friend ensured that the estate didn’t become completely derelict and in time the farm was handed down to Ann and her husband James, an Englishman from Dorset. They then set about not only turning the estate into the most beautiful setting for weddings, parties and holiday accommodation but also painstakingly re-instating its vineyard. James’ background is that of farming and with the help of his winemaker has certainly played to his strengths developing the vineyard and ensuring that quality, not quantity, is the key. Indigenous grape varieties such as Fernão Pires and Touriga Nacional sit happily alongside international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

The estate is heavily influenced by the Atlantic and as a result the whites are crisp and the reds fresh and full of character. The winery is small yet perfectly formed with two lagares (granite troughs) where the grapes are still trodden in the traditional way. These are surrounded by the more modern vats and stainless steel tanks. The combination of the traditional and modern can be found throughout Quinta de SantAna. Nods to the history of the Quinta being found everywhere including the name of their top wine – Baron Von Fürstenburg.

The variety and quality of Portuguese wine has come on in leaps and bounds recently and as is often the case in relatively underrated areas of the wine world there are some real bargains to be had. We think that these wines offer real value and are well worth your attention. Saúde!

Taste all of the Quinta’s wines at our tutored tasting at the end of November.

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Brunello Di Montalcino 2010

Steel hoops for Brunello di Montalcino 2010 barrels

Brunello Di Montalcino 2010 vintage was perfect in Montalcino and, unusually, almost uniformly so for the region.

It’s not often that we hear the phrase ‘vintage of a lifetime’ bandied around by critics and the press, unless it’s in relation to Bordeaux, so hearing the reports about this amazing Brunello vintage we decided it warranted further inspection. The wines were unveiled to the world earlier this year following their customary and legally defined 50 months of aging, and the trade has had plenty of time to evaluate and exalt its brilliance.

Montalcino is a beautiful hilltop town in the heart of Tuscany (think rolling hills and Cyprus trees) and the wine that bears its name is made from 100% Sangiovese – the Chianti grape variety.

The 2010 vintage was perfect in Montalcino and, unusually, almost uniformly so for the region. Whilst the wines are powerful, they are far from being austere, being fruit driven with soft tannins combining freshness, structure, opulence and balance.

We have secured a shipment of two wines from Brunello’s amazing 2010 vintage. The ‘Cupio’ is open, juicy and invites you to jump in right now thanks to its berry fruit and a richly textured palate. The ‘Pinino’ is, whilst very drinkable now, the wine that will reward those with a touch more patience; it has the makings of a great wine with all the structure and fruit indicating a long life ahead of it.

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