The Soul of the Orange Revolution
Orange wine is in vogue. We know it, you know it, everyone is hip to skin-contact whites. While many people like to lump orange wine into the trend category, extended-maceration white wine has a long history throughout Europe, particularly in the East, and is anything but an aesthetic choice. The skins add tannin - giving the wines texture as well as anti-oxidants - and augment the aromatics. Not all white varieties lend themselves to excellent orange wine, nor is the art of maceration a simple matter of measuring color. When orange wine is bad it is bitter and staid, but when it is good, it can be transcendent.When we think of the apex of skin-contact whites - wines that are iridescent amber, wines of soul that speak directly to the soul - our first choice is Dario Prinčič. Dario has been working in his family vineyards near the Friulian-Slovenian border since he was a child and took over officially in 1988. The Oslavia region was batted back and forth throughout the 20th century and when Collio (Dario's homeland) became Italian, the alignment with a predominately red-wine drinking culture led to indigenous white varieties - particularly the heavenly Ribolla Gialla - to be ripped up. Ribolla became nearly extinct, and were it not for modern Collio producers like Radikon, Gravner and Princic, the grape would have been lost. Dario has kept the 17 acres of vines organic since the beginning and has implemented biodynamic practices in recent years. All harvesting is done by hand. Dario only uses native yeast and never fines, filters, or temperature controls his wines. Dario's wines are absolutely for contemplation, for thoughtful meals with friends, and for cellaring if you are that way inclined. Unlike many natural wines, these wines absolutely demand to be open over several hours, and revisiting on days two and three yield even more remarkable results. The evolution of these wines over the next 5-10 years will be remarkable to observe, perhaps more dynamic than Burgundy!