English wineries experiment with orange wines

Gaëlle Laforest

04 November 2015

British winery Chapel Down has released the country's first orange wine.

Orange Bacchus 2014 is a single varietal wine, made with fruit that was de-stemmed and left to ferment with wild yeasts, with the juice in contact with the skins for eight days. The fermentation was then finished in fifth-fill French oak.

While many orange wines are also natural, and choose to make do without the use of sulphites, Chapel Down uses 'a normal amount' of sulphites to counteract effects of oxidation, said winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire. 'This is because I feel that in some cases, more delicate flavours and aromas can be lost, than complexity gained, when sulphites are not used,' he said.

He added: 'As England’s leading winemaker we are keen to push the boundaries and experiment with winemaking techniques in order to produce the best quality and innovative wines. With England increasingly becoming known for Bacchus as a white wine varietal, I was eager to explore the potential of this versatile variety. Often Bacchus is compared to Sauvignon Blanc in style, however our Orange Bacchus has added weight and depth of flavour with smoky notes, a rich palate and a really interesting tannic edge which makes it ideal for pairing with weightier foods, especially smoked meat or oily fish.'

Incidentally (and amazingly), this isn't the only orange wine being made over here. Consultancy and contract winemaker Litmus Wines recently announced it's working on an orange Bacchus wine under its own label. The wine's currently ageing in barrels (pictured top) and owner and chief winemaker John Worontschak said it's looking promising. 'We are most definitely excited for its potential as it has already surpassed our expectations,' he said. If the wine continues improving in barrel, he plans for 4,000 bottles of Litmus Orange Bacchus. However there's no release date set for now, as Worontschak is still unsure how long the wine will be aged for.

Chapel Down Orange Bacchus, 12% abv, £20 RRP, 01580 763033. Litmus Wines, 01306 879829

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