There’s an ongoing discussion (sometimes on this blog) about whether the term “orange” will ever catch on as a mainstream idea. Over the last 24 months or so, I’ve seen winemakers in various corners of the globe take matters into their own hands. Yes, producers are now making wine and putting “orange” in the label, just as they would put “white”, “red” or “rosé”. Exhibit A is a very young wine from a young winery in Thrace – almost certainly Bulgaria’s first proper orange wine.
Rossidi winery is the brainchild of Edward and Rosie Kourian, who make wine together with their friend and consultant winemaker Peter Georgiev. Rossidi are one of a new crop of Bulgarian producers who are daring, playful and savvy about what 21st century consumers might like – Eddie’s character runs through everything from his self-confessed “extravagant” satorial style to the beautiful self-designed labels. I tried their wines at a large tasting in Plovdiv last October. They were a breath of fresh air amongst many rather clumsy, oak-monsters.
Bulgaria’s first orange wine?
Orange 2015 is 100% Chardonnay, late harvested and then wild fermented in stainless steel for 30 days – as Eddie explained: “We decided that we will do it the proper way… 100% spontaneous fermentation, NO temperature control, unfiltered and unfined”. It was then left on the lees for a further 100 days. I love this embracement of the “orange” philosophy, going the whole hog rather than making some bland, half-hearted effort. However, I wish they’d held this wine back for a year or two (in large old wooden barrels, if I could choose) – youthful is an understatement.
Youthfulness has its perks though, and the intense apple and pear fruit feels joyful and pure. That said, the sensation of freshly fermented must is a tad overpowering – anyone who’s been to a winery in late autumn and tasted tank samples will know what I mean.
Structurally, the reference point is southern Styrian “oranges” from producers like Sepp Muster, Tauss or Strohmeier. The tannins are firm, ripe and ever so slightly spicy, with a typical Chardonnay-like elegance on the finish. There may not yet be much complexity in this baby, but the elements are so enjoyable and full of potential that I’m prepared to wait.
Why make orange wine in Thrace?
Eddie explained “I personally like wines out of the frame, strange, different. I discovered natural wines [while living] in London and said to myself, I want to experiment. I’ve always experimented with our wines, so this was a challenge.” It helped that Peter had been working with Martin Arndorfer, a producer from the Kamptal who’s also successfully experiemented with the style. “So we decided to give it a go…”, Eddie concluded.
I’m glad they did. My advice is to snap up a couple of bottles and put them in a dark corner for at least a year. Especially as this wine is very reasonably priced for the genre, and comes with one of Eddie’s wonderful designs. I was slightly puzzled as to what the label depicted, until Eddie sent me this picture of his favourite shoes (Vivienne Westwood, natch!).
Rossidi wines can be bought in the UK from Ivo Varbanov. Orange should be available for around £16 – £17 a bottle. Mine was provided for review.