2021 Macerao, Naranjo Orange Wine, Itata Valley, Chile (£8.99, Waitrose)
I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, and I certainly do not want you thinking that I have turned over a new leaf and now embrace the subject of orange wines, but this inexpensive wine is indeed a rather wonderful way to welcome in 2022. Orange wines are white wines made in the same manner as red wines. They are fermented on their skins instead of crushing the grapes, discarding the skins and just carrying on with the juice. This technique of “skin contact” colours the wine, lending it an orange hue, hence the name.
My problem with orange wines is that they often have a cidery, funky feel about them. There is a distinct lack of freshness coupled with raucous acidity. None of these traits excites me, but when I tasted Macerao, a 100% moscatel made from 60-year-old, unirrigated vines, which is hand-harvested, fermented with wild yeasts and left for 90 days on its skins, I felt angels dancing on my tongue!
With an energetic 12.5% alcohol and a refreshingly dry finish, this floral, mandarin-scented white wine is both delightful and super-fresh. It is a far cry from the dank, occluded examples that have put me off this style of wine to date. While this is a fairly simple creation, I can assure you that it is a worthy ambassador for this much-maligned wine style and, who knows, perhaps it will inspire others to make cleaner, brighter and tastier orange wines.
Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)