A pair of funky “whites” from the Quintessential wines tasting earlier this year:
Pierluigi Zampaglione Don Chisciotte Fiano 2015 (12.5%, RRP €26.95 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda & quintessentialwines.ie)
This actual colour of this wine is why these wines are described as “whites” and not whites – it’s orange, which is a whole new category and kettle of fish. In simple terms, orange wines are made with white grapes but using red wine instead of white wine production methods – the major difference of course being the time that the juice has in contact with the skins (where the colour comes from). It’s also a natural wine as the grapes are farmed organically, wild yeast is used and intervention during winemaking is minimal.
Pier Luigi Zampaglione makes this wine from a 2 hectare vineyard at 800 metres above sea-level in Campania – the altitude results in high acidity levels which help with ageing and make for a fresh wine. The number of days of skin contact varies from year to year depending on the quality and style of the grapes harvested – in some years it can be apparently as long as 20 days (2011) but was 6 days for the 2016 vintage.
Ignoring its origins for a moment, this is just a thoroughly enjoyable wine. It’s not the most extreme orange wine around so it would serve as a great introduction. The key flavours for me were almond and ginger biscuits!
Loxarel A Pèl 2016 (12.5%, RRP €22.50 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda & quintessentialwines.ie)
If the Fiano above would serve as a moderate example of a natural, orange wine then this is a no-holds-barred full-on example. Again it’s a 100% varietal, but this time with Catalonia’s Xarel-lo, better known as one of the three traditional Cava grapes. As before the grapes are grown organically, but also biodynamically; wild yeast are used for fermentation and there is skin contact, but much more than in the A Pèl. With no fining or filtration the wine ends up somewhat cloudy in the bottle.
Quintessential Wines are known for having some unusual wines in their portfolio and I would suggest that this is the most left-field of the lot! Aromas and flavours are not so much about the grape or the soil, but more about the natural microbial environment. It’s definitely not for everyone but it really brings the funk and so deserves to be tried.
The Fifth Element Series: