Orange Fever At An All-Time High

Orange Fever At An All-Time High 

-by Cass Lam

I was not a fan of natural wine - let alone orange wine - until I tried it last year. It was a memorable experience. I had no expectation when I bought a bottle of Mandili MTSVANE 2015 from the UK - I was just curious as to how different it could be compared to white and rosé.

Turned out Mandili MTSVANE 2015 (wine made by Iago's wife Marina Kurtanidze, the first female winemaker in Georgia) was simply gorgeous and exactly the kind of wine I love! The salmon-pink color is inviting, the nose speaks of so many things including roasted apricots, crystallized citrus even grilled mushrooms and the palate encompasses tea, sake and a pink grapefruit tangerine-tang. (Les Caves UK)Back then, the media bragged excessively about the fashion of Georgian wine and qvevri culture. I, on the other hand, was quite resistant to and skeptical about low-quality, massive production wine made in the factories of post-Soviet Georgia (gvinis karkhana), which was the only option available in the market (Hong Kong).

Later on, I was introduced to "Le Zaune to Dédée" of Domaine Ganevat from the Jura! It's another mind-blowing orange wine (vin janue in French) that has changed my attitude towards this new category! "Le Zaune to Dédée" is in fact a vin jaune (yellow wine), but it was made of Savagnin and Gewürztraminer with skin contact in aged sous voile (yeast), and judging from its color, it's categorized as orange wine.

Domaine Ganevat Vin Janue / Orange Wine

Following the celebration of RAW WINE in London this month, a new wave of winemakers from around the world have started the "Amber Revolution" (new book by Simon Woolf), a movement that embraces orange wine, which is made in ancient / traditional style but with modern method. The ideology of the revolution is to remind drinkers of the history and origin of winemaking thousands of years ago. Given that, some of us are somehow provoked to rediscover and appreciate the beauty and charm of orange/amber wine.

"Amber Revolution" by Simon Woolf (photo credited: Kick Starter)

However, trendy drinkers have mixed feelings towards it. Some dislike it because of its color, texture, and of the fact that it's a difficult partner to match with food. Some choose to drink it simply because they want to stay à la mode in the wine scene.

With our Orange Wine + Omakase Dinner just around the corner, we feel obliged to let our guests know about it in advance.

What is orange wine?

Orange wine or amber wines as they are also known – get a hard time for being even more niche than natural wines, but, in fact, use one of the oldest known methods of production, which gives built-in protection to the wines. They are made by leaving white grapes in contact with their skins (and sometimes seeds and stalks) for an extended period of time, unlike typical white winemaking, which separates the juice from its skin very early in the process. To put it another way, orange wines are white wines made like they are red. (Wine Revolution by Jane Anson)

Domaine de Montbourgeau

Orange wine vs. vin jaune

Vin Jaune is a white wine made exclusively from Savagnin, a white grape that is primarily located in the Jura but there are some traces in Germany, Alsace, Austria and Australia. The secret of yellow wine is its very specific farming: after winemaking, it is placed in oak barrels for 6 years and 3 months at least. It falls into the category of white wines “oxidative” but is not an oxidized wine. Oxidation is a defect in many wines, which is not the case for Vin Jaune. Vin Jaune is sold in a specific bottle, named “clavelin”. It has a particular shape which contains 62cl wine. This amount corresponds to the volume of Vin Jaune obtained after vinification and aging for 6 years and 3 months, from one liter of grape (after evaporation). (French Celllar)

You might want to try the following if you want to stay ahead of the game:


Alaverdi Monastery KHIKHVI 2011: Bright orange colour, but clean and youthful, not evolved. A bouquet of orange and lemon peel, butterscotch, honey and minerals. Lots of phenolic grip on the palate, very oxidative flavours, orange, grapefruit, crème brulee and honey.

Ramaz Nikoladze Tsitska Tsolikouri 2015: This producer makes only 3000 bottles per year and its Tsolikouri was named one of the top wines from Decanter 2015.   This is macerated on the skins for four months w out the stems. Very clean qvevri wine with peach, apricots, nuts, a touch of pineapple and nice acidity. The wine has a little tug from the soft tannins. Very good amber wine that goes excellent with food. (Vivino)

Limited stock available in store. Please contact us to place an order.

Artevani Rkatsiteli 2015: Terroir craft wine, made using modern technologies along with the ancient Georgian traditions and wine making principles, from finest selection of Rkatsiteli grapes, harvested by hand, cultivated in Kakheti region, Gremi Village, Republic of Georgia.  This full bodied wine was made from Rkatsiteli grapes carefully harvested from the vine that is seventy years old and aged in Kvevri for several years. Wine has a characteristic dark amber color with rich aroma typical for this grape variety. Notable tannins and extraordinary long aftertaste.

Limited stock available in store. Please contact us to place an order.


Clai Malvazija Sveti Jakov 2012: ONLY 6000 bottles produced a year. Golden yellow in the glass. The nose is mysterious and delicious, not at all fruit-forward like most Malvasias in Istria, deep and very earthy. The aromas are so tightly intertwined and with time you can recognize dry hay, wet clay, dry figs, rosemary, bay leaf, macchia and light medicinal note. Definitely there are plenty of things to smell in this wine, but the real action happens in the mouth. First the acidity bites the palate, and it is good to have it so strong since it successfully manages to balance out the high alcohol content. The wine is slightly tannic, has a nice silky texture on the tongue, with powerful flavor and body. Exploding mouthwatering minerality improves further the balance and makes the finish moderately long, clean and delicious. The fight between acids, salts, alcohol and fatness is so compelling that soon – in a glance – you find yourself finishing the third glass.

(photo credited: The Morning Claret)

Benvenuti Malvazija AD 2015: This complex Malvasia has exceptional minerality. It is full-boded, with pronounced characteristics of the variety and fruitiness. For better quality of grapes, we have minimized the yields of our vineyards in Turkovo, located at an altitude of 350 metres. Malvazija Anno Domini was aged in oak barrels for 24 months, following a 15-day maceration. With great potential for aging, the 2015 vintage has only 5000 bottles in production.

Limited stock available in store. Please contact us to place an order.


Author: Cass Lam
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