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Natural Orange Wine & Appellations
A significant number of natural winemakers who are eager to experiment rather than to standardise, pay less and less heed to appellations. They prefer to do what they please even if it means classifying all their wine varieties as ‘Vin de France’. Strict appellations do guarantee a certain quality of production, but they also limit what winemakers can do. According to the established specifications, wines are classed by colour (rather than production technique). None of them mention orange wine explicitly, and it does not fall under the category of white wines for most of the official appellations. Depending where the wine is grown, it can be very difficult to produce an orange wine with a specific appellation.
The reason some winemakers are able to break free from these appellations and produce orange wine without worrying about its legitimacy or sales prospects, is because modes of consumption have evolved with the emergence of natural wines. Some modern consumers are less bothered about appellations than their predecessors, because they don’t guarantee a wine is free from chemicals. These people are also more likely to try new things because in their eyes, a winemaker’s philosophy, and the principles that guide his wine-making process are more important than institutionalised specifications. A process of personalisation of the winemaker and his work seems to be under way, reinforced by the fact that the vineyards tend to be small-scale operations. Winegrowers making orange wine can therefore afford to produce wine classed simply as ‘Vin de France’ because they know that their consumers place more importance on their philosophy, their history, and new experiences, than appellations.
Orange Natural Wine: Tannins to Reinforce Natural Protection
Making a faultless natural wine that is without harmful bacteria is much harder that making conventional wine. It is generally accepted that for a wine to be considered ‘natural’ it must have little (less than 30 mg/l So2 total) or no added sulphites.
Though wine naturally contains sulphites, they are mainly added (up to 200 mg/l So2 total for conventional wines) for their antioxidant and antiseptic qualities. This means that they stop bacteria from developing, and make the wine more resistant to alterations caused by oxygen in the air (therefore stopping the wine from turning into vinegar). A wine without added sulfite is therefore more fragile.
‘Tannins’ that are mostly found in red wines (due to the process of maceration with the skin), have the same antiseptic and antioxidant qualities as sulfites. That means that a white wine (without or with very few tannins), that is natural (without or with very little added sulphites), is the wine the most prone to alteration or to developing harmful bacteria. It’s therefore hardly surprising that a winemaker making natural wine would decide to leave the white grapes to macerate with the skin and stalks, in order to reinforce the wine’s natural protection thanks to the tannins that are brought about by this process.
Where to Buy Natural Orange Wine ?
Here is a small selection In addition to your local wine merchants, here is a selection of online wine merchants that we appreciate for their quality work. You will find many top quality orange wines at the right price:of our favorite online cellars: