October: Movia Ambra Sivi Grigio

In honor of National Orange Wine Day on October 6, I'm re-visiting one of my favorite, albeit obscure, types of wine: skin contact wine. Skin contact ("orange") wine is rising in popularity but it remains extremely difficult to find. To raise public awareness and drive interest (and hopefully more availability!), my friend Amanda Goodwin of The Real Housewine petitioned for and secured October 6 as National Orange Wine Day. Huge thanks to Amanda for rallying the orange wine-loving troops!!

What is "Orange" Wine?

Does this orange wine thing sound a little familiar? It's because I wrote about this style of wine almost a year ago! That's right, I've been loving this circus-hued rarity for a while. Assuming you haven't memorized all of my posts (rude!), let's review the basics:
  • Orange wine, or “skin contact wine," is the result of white grapes treated like red grapes during the wine-making process.
  • Skin contact wine is a speciality in Slovenia, Georgia, Croatia, and northeastern Italy, specifically Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Thanks to new interest in this style, you can now find examples from New York, California, Australia, and Sicily.
  • Traditionally Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio is used, but new winemakers are using an array of white grapes. 
  • Kvevris are large, clay vessels used by Georgian winemakers to make skin contact wine. They are buried underground to ferment, store, and age wine.
There's a lot more to know about orange wine, but this is a good start!
Sivi Grigio is also known as Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, and Grauburgunder.

Does It Taste Like Orange Juice?

Nope! In fact, no oranges were harmed in making this orange wine—or any orange wines, ever. Movia's 2012 Ambra Sivi Grigio spent 10 days in contact with its skins to give it that gorgeous shade. Since Pinot Gris's skins are naturally pinkish gray in hue, they excel in creating beautiful gold, orange, and amber wines.
Movia is one of the most well-known Slovenian wine producers, with operations dating back to 1700.
Movia's long history of traditional winemaking in Slovenia is evident in the look, smell, and taste of this wine. The color is the most perfect shade of persimmon. I have had orange wines before but none have matched the vibrancy of this amber orange shade.

In every sense, this wine is like walking through an orchard on an unseasonably warm autumn day. It is full of rich notes of bruised pear, apple, tangerine, orange blossom, roasted nuts, umami, caramel, and tea. It is a very unique scent and flavor profile but don't let that scare you! The acidity cuts through the strong flavors like a knife. Serve it with a light chill and some mild hard cheeses.

Wine: Movia 2012 Ambra Sivi Grigio
Appearance: Clear, medium, amber.
Nose: Clean, pronounced, aromas of bruised pears, bruised apples, overripe peaches, tangerine, orange blossom, roasted nuts, white miso, and white tea.
Palate: Dry, medium+ acid, low tannin, medium+ body, flavors of bruised pears, tangerines, caramel, roasted nuts, umami, and white and black tea.
Finish: Long
Quality: Very good. I find orange wines hard to assess because of their uniqueness, but this has the key elements of a very good wine. It is balanced and has complex flavors. I recommend drinking the 2012 now through 2020.
Price: Purchased for $41.99 from wine.com.

Reminder: Catch up on the Wine of the Month series before the final installment in December!