Fall For Orange Wine

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I love orange wines, but tbh, I’m getting a little oranged out. Don’t get me wrong, I think that orange wines fun are funky and I will always love them. However, it seems like KC finally got on the orange wine train and I can’t get away from them even if I try (a problem I never thought I’d have). However, I also feel like I need to taste everything, so when I see orange wine at a shop or on a menu, I usually try it. I first tried this wine at my birthday tasting at my favorite wine shop, Underdog. I bought a bottle and meant to review it but instead I opened it one night when I was already a little tipsy (which is no easy feat since the top is covered in wax) and crushed it. So here we are, nearly a month later and kind of feeling over orange wine for the season, but it matches the leaves so perfectly and like what did you think I was going to review for the fall, pumpkin spice lattes? No.

The Lovamor is made exclusively from Albillo Real grapes from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain situated in the central north. Albillo Real is grown widely throughout this region as well as in Madrid. Lovamor is organic, unfined and unfiltered (just the way I like it). The grapes see six days of skin contact, leading to an amber/golden hue. The winemaker who produces Lovamor is Alfredo Maestro, whose mantra is “Wine made with only grapes, well-kept vineyards, and healthy land.” Maestro employs natural and organic winemaking techniques, using old vines and neglected land. Maestro’s wines are imported by Jose Pastor Selections, which has been described to me as the Jenny & Francois of Spain. When I heard this, I knew I would love it.

The bouquet of the Lovamor is light but floral, smelling of lilies and honeysuckle. There’s a sweetness to it, but I’ve learned this is often deceiving when it comes to orange wines where the bouquet and the palate can be 100% different. The floral notes come through on the palate in such a nice way! It reminds me of the first orange wine I tried on a trip to L.A. It was a Georgian orange wine and was so light and floral, but still had a bit of body from the skin contact. It tastes like orange blossoms (don’t sue me for comparing an orange wine to actual oranges, I know they aren’t made from oranges) and there’s a grittiness to it in the best possible way, which could be due to it being unfined and unfiltered.

This would be the perfect wine for drinking outside on a cool fall day while listening to old-ish Radiohead, which is what I’m doing. Today I read that some dude on Fox News called Radiohead the poor man’s Coldplay. When I was able to pick my jaw up off of the floor I immediately burst into laughter. Radiohead is hands down my favorite band and has been for 10+ years. Since reading that, I’ve been alternating between listening to The Daily Mail/Staircase single and the Knives Out EP-- two of my favorites. The weather is pretty perfect, it is in the high sixties and sunny. If I had my way, I would do nothing but drink this wine outside while listening to Radiohead for the duration of fall. In reality I need to go inside and cook dinner. However, if you have some free time this week, I’d highly recommend picking up some Lovamor, taking it outside and turning on Radiohead. Oh, and I should mention that I stole the title of this post from a window display at a wine shop in Chicago. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

AmByth Estate Sauvignon Blanc

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Disclaimer: I started writing this post before Hurricane Maria devestated Puerto Rico, so I hope my going on about the beauty of this island doesn't seem tone deaf. I hope you will consider donating to an organization that is providing relief to our fellow American citizens such as UNICEF.

First impression of this wine: it is orange AF. I have had several orange wines and have loved them all, but they are usually more of a gold/coppery hue than truly orange. The AmByth Sauvignon Blanc is a straight up sunset in a glass. AmByth Estate uses only organically grown grapes which are then crushed by foot. This skin-contact Sauvignon Blanc ages with its skins for 9 months until it achieves the perfect apple cider hue.

On the nose, this is pure passionfruit. I wouldn’t know this except I have been doing this experiment where I buy the strangest fruit I can find at the grocery store and try it as a means to entertain myself as well as expand my palate. While passionfruit isn’t strange, it is pretty uncommon in Kansas. I think I first tried fresh passionfruit when I was in Puerto Rico a year ago. We took a catamaran out to the island of Culebra off the coast of PR and it was absolutely beautiful. It was also all you could drink and they were serving rum with passionfruit juice. It was delicious. The smell of this wine takes me right back to the beaches of Culebra.

On the palate it tastes funky like apple cider vinegar, lime blossom and, you guessed it, passionfruit. It smells and tastes just like Passionfruit by Drake, perfect, right? Well, maybe not if you’re not a Drake fan but then why are you even here? It’s so damn smooth and you just want to listen to it on repeat while you sit on a Caribbean beach somewhere drinking the AmByth Estate Sauvignon Blanc. “Passionate from miles away, passive with the things you say.” Mmmmmmm.

I also dig that this wine is unfiltered and super cloudy. I tend to prefer unfiltered, unfined wines. They tend to have more funk and be less predictable, varying bottle to bottle. Sometimes that means you end up with something less than optimal, but I’ve been lucky and have loved all of the unfiltered wines I’ve tried. While I noted that this wine would be perfect for a Caribbean beach, it is also kind of perfect for fall in Kansas City. It’s still hot here so a chilled wine is not a bad thing, but the leaves are changing and don’t look unlike this Sauvignon Blanc. The apple cider vinegar quality to it feels pretty autumnal.

Orange Wine, Orange Nails

I did two very important things today after work: I got a manicure and I bought wine. The two activities had one thing in common, ORANGE. I picked this reddish orange color for my nails that turned out to be called “A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find” which I can only hope is a play on the Flannery O’Connor short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, one of my favorites since high school. The wine I picked up was the Pinot Grigio Ramato, an orange wine, from Antonutti Vini, a winery based in the Grave del Friuli region of Italy. Grave del Friuli is described by Antonutti Vini as being far less glamorous than many of the better known wine growing regions in Italy. But hell, this Kansas native did a quick Google image search and the region looks pretty bomb to me, being situated between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea. It is a region that has been producing orange wines for hundreds of years.

I happened upon this wine because I was complaining to the owner of Underdog about how it’s so hard to find orange wines in Kansas City. He was like “Oh, well I have one, it’s just not on the shelf.” I said, “Ooh, gimme.” Truth be told, if I had seen this on the shelf, I probably wouldn’t have known it was an orange wine since it’s in a dark bottle. That’s why you should always ask for help if you’re looking for something specific, especially in a wine shop-- they know their shit, at least they should. I’ve had my share of bad experiences in a particular wine shop, but I just don’t go to that one anymore.

Skin-contact (a.k.a. orange) wines are simply white wines made in the same style as reds-- the skins of the grapes aren’t removed immediately and the wines take on an orange-hue that can be anywhere on the spectrum of golden to deep orange. The Pinot Grigio Ramato is the color of golden wheat, which is possibly the most Kansan thing I’ve ever said. It is really lovely. The bouquet is super fragrant, smelling brightly of lemon zest and fresh ginger tea. On the palate, it is tart and dry, tasting like lemon grass with notes of canary melon on the finish. This definitely has a heavier body than your average Pinot Grigio, so if you are a white wine nay-sayer because you prefer a tannic red, give this a shot. Orange wines tend to be more tannic than their white counterparts.

Truth be told, I’m not a huge white wine drinker. That being said, I will drink a Pét-Nat or a funky unfiltered white any day, but you won’t catch me slinging back the Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigio like most people tend to during the summer. Orange wine is great for people like me, who like the idea of white wine but long for the fuller body of a red. You know I love my light-bodied reds for the summer, but orange wine is a great addition to my collection. Unfortunately, it is pretty hard to find. However, we change that by creating demand. If enough people demand weird and funky shit, restaurants and wine shops are bound to oblige. And if we patronize those places that take chances on the weird shit, they’ll be able to keep up the good work.

So there you go, a primer on orange wine. Go forth and drink. Come to think of it, I think the Flannery O’Connor story I was remembering was “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”. Whatever, that’s too long a title for a nail polish anyway.