The hosts of CTV’s The Social and I had great fun chatting about hot, new wine trends yesterday. Have you tried any of these wines? Let me know in the comments ;)
What’s heating up in the world of wine this summer? What should we be thinking—and drinking—when it comes to wine?
Our next guest is here with the trends to look out for this summer. Joining us now is Natalie MacLean who offers Canada’s most popular online wine and food pairing classes at nataliemaclean.com.
Let’s start with the first type of wine that’s trending right now: orange wines. What are they and why are they hot right now?
· Let’s clear this up first: orange wine is not made from oranges, it refers only to the wine’s colour ;)
· It’s also known as amber wine or skin-fermented white wine.
· Although orange wine seems new and trendy, it’s actually an ancient style of wine that’s been used for thousands of years to make white wines, often fermented without temperature control for long periods in qvevri (clay vessels or amphorae), in regions such as Georgia and Armenia.
· Modern white winemaking with temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks has only been practised for the past 40-50 years.
How are orange wines made?
· They start out like making white wine, but then they leave the grape skins on during fermentation just as red wines do and white wines do not.
· The grape skins contain these magical aromatic precursors that eventually get released into the wine to create its distinctive aromas, flavours and colour.
· However, they don’t leave the skins in contact as long as they do for red wines to achieve a much darker colour.
· They’re also not filtered or fined so you see a lot of stuffing floating around – that’s good stuff, it’s natural from the spent yeast cells and gives them a more interesting, richer taste – it’s like the braised bits of meat on your cooking pan, those are good scrapings, full of flavour.
Southbrook Vineyards Vidal Skin Fermented Orange Wine 2019
Niagara, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada
So how did orange wines become trendy again?
· The re-emergence of orange wines in several regions was a move to get away from over-manipulated wines and get back to ancient methods.
· Ontario is the first wine region in the world to create a special category for these wines and to protect them by law.
· Winemaker Ann Sperling of Niagara’s Southbrook Vineyards led that charge as she was already making an orange wine.
· Now you’ll even find trendy wine bars and restaurants with special sections for orange wines on their lists.
You’ve brought Southbrook’s Orange wine for me to taste today.
I love this wine! It has wonderfully unusual aromas of Earl grey tea and clementine. It’s so savoury and juicy. As Ann Sperling says it’s the perfect wine for lazy sommeliers because it pairs well with so many dishes from lighter fare like seafood and chicken to braised meats.
Anatolikos Vineyards Orange Wine 2017
Avdira, Thrace, Greece
Tell us about the other orange wine you have.
This wine is from Greece, Anatolikos Vineyards. It’s an extraordinary orange wine that’s an unfiltered and a blend of native aromatic grapes. It’s a perfusion of toasted almond, hazelnut, and orange peel, and pairs well with a wide range of dishes. This wine is actually made in traditional clay amphora.
The next trend you’ve spotted for us is natural wines. How are they different from orange wines?
· Both orange and natural wines don’t have any additives and they’re not filtered or fined.
· However, not all orange wines are natural, organic and biodynamic though many are, like the two we have here today.
· Not all natural wines are orange, but they are all made from organic, hand-picked grapes that are fermented using local, wild yeast.
Nigl Gartling Gruner Veltliner 2018
How did natural wines become trendy?
· Much like orange wines, natural wines are a move toward less manipulation in the winemaking process.
· This trend goes hand in glove with movements toward organic produce and buying local from small-scale farmers.
· However, there’s already a backlash against natural wines in that some argue it’s more of a winemaking philosophy or approach that should be left to the winemaker’s interpretation than it should be codified into law because really how do you define natural? That’s much more ambiguous than defining orange.
Tell us about the natural wine you have for me to taste.
You have the Nigl Grüner Veltliner Gärtling from Austria. It’s a lovely, zesty Austrian white wine made from the country’s iconic Gruner Veltliner grape. This natural wine is made from organic, hand-harvested grapes. Aromas of tangerine and citrus zest with some white pepper. Juicy, racy acidity for seafood and shellfish.
What is the other natural wine you have?
I have the Wittmann Pinot Blanc from Germany. It’s a vibrant natural wine made from hand-picked, organic Pinot Blanc grapes. Aromas of lime zest and lemongrass. Racy acidity for grilled shrimp, onion tarte, herbed flatbreads, brunch fare.
Wittmann Winery Weissburgunder Trocken 2017
Rheinhessen Qualitätswein, Germany
Alright, we’re moving on to your third and final wine trend Natalie. What is it?
· Wine aged in whisky barrels are having a moment right now.
· Instead of using tradition oak barrels from France, Hungary, Spain, etc, some winemakers are innovating and using barrels that were previously used to make whisky in Canada or bourbon in the US.
· This may seem to be the opposite of the two hands-off trends we just discussed, but I believe that winemaking is a spectrum of intervention – afterall, you can’t have wine without some intervention of introducing yeast to grapes.
· The key is that winemakers and wine lovers have the freedom to choose what they like on that spectrum and what suits their taste.
Why are these wines trending right now?
· The popularity of these wines dovetails with the renaissance of craft bourbon and rye.
· They’re also marketed more like spirits than traditional wines, so you’ll see a lot of tattooed men in cellars with metal instruments beside smoke and fire rather than leafy green vineyards and sunlight.
· The wines are often poured in traditional rocks glasses used for spirits rather than wine stemware.
How do these wines taste in comparison to wines aged in regular barrels?
· They don’t taste like whisky or bourbon, nor do they have the high alcohol of those spirits.
· However, they do have that caramel, maple, brown sugar taste that’s signaled from the bourbon barrels.
· These wines are also a lot smoother: you don’t get that furry mouth feeling you can get from regular barrel aging.
· It’s a different set of aromas for a different consumer.
Stave & Steel Canadian Whisky Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
California, United States
Tell me about the wine you have for me to taste.
You have the Stave & Steel from California that’s aged in Canadian Whisky Barrels. It’s a wonderfully full-bodied wine with enticing aromas of fleshy ripe black fruit and caramelized edge. Pair with meat lovers’ pizza or grilled meats.
What’s the other wine you have?
I have the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon that’s aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. It’s a full-bodied Californian Cabernet with aromas of brown sugar and maple syrup. Pair with grilled meats.
Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Bourbon Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Monterey County, California, United States
Barrel trading is definitely big business with “crossovers” not only in wine. For example, The Glenlivet Scotch has a new variant finished in Cognac casks which is innovative. Martell Cognac has a new product that’s finished in Bourbon barrels, which again is totally unconventional. Even basic Jameson Irish Whisky is made from whiskies blended from ex-Bourbon barrels and ex-Sherry casks.
Stave & Steel Canadian Whisky Barrel Finish is unique, combining two categories, Canadian Whisky and California Cabernet Sauvignon. The Canadian component adds a lot of subtlety and nuance, and it’s rooted here in Ontario.
The barrels comes from the Hiram Walker distillery in Windsor, Ontario, which is the home of Canadian whiskies such as J.P. Wiser’s, Lot 40 Rye Whisky, Gooderham & Worts, Pike Creek and other spirits like Polar Ice Vodka, Lamb’s Rum, McGuinness Liqueurs and Malibu Rum.
The Canadian Whisky Cabernet was developed exclusively for the Canadian market. Canadian Whisky barrels are most often bourbon barrels originally. Bourbon is aged one time in virgin oak barrels, but there’s still a lot of life in it so these barrels often end up aging whisky in Canada, Scotland, Ireland, etc. or can be used for other spirits such as Rum or Tequila. For Canadian Whisky, they can be used multiple times before the wood is spent.