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Orange Wine

The following is an excerpt from our June Wine Of the Month Club.
Written by Mackenzie Brisbois.

Skin Contact or No Skin Contact?
Skin contact wines have been made literally forever. Over time, technology  has changed, skills and knowledge have increased and winemaking has become more streamlined. With this change many skin contact styles have been  pushed to the side. Recently, skin contact wines have become hugely popular. There is a genuine romanticism that goes hand in hand with crafting  skin contact wines. I’ve tried some horrendous examples and I’ve tried some incredible examples. At the end of the day when I think of skin contact wines that I want to drink I think of a winemaker and their love for their grapes.   

In her book For the Love of Wine, Alice Feiring really sums it up: “This process has resulted in tastes in wine that are exotic – beeswax and orange blossom water and strawberry tea, in addition to the wine’s bitter and savory power; this process was the emotional thread that drew me in.”

I started making skin contact wines because I wanted to coax out all the  elements of terroir, creating delicate wines with layers of structure. In a way I wanted to prove that the terroir is not lost when the skins are used, but that it can be augmented. In my opinion some of my wines have missed the mark in connecting to their terroir, but others have really highlighted their sense of place. In marketing wine, we always want to put a good spin on our story, but I want to be honest in the creation of my wines and tell you what I really think and how the process evolves over time.  

I’m starting to understand how skin contact wines evolve. How the bracing acidity at bottling softens and balances out over time and how the wines react to the ebb and flow of life. I have experimented over the years with different varieties, different tanks, different amounts of time on skin and style of wine.

My favourite varieties for skin contact are:

Riesling for acidity and structure
Gewurztraminer for its aromatics and colour
Sauvignon Blanc for its over-the-top aromatics

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