Results of the 2019 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

Orange Wine

Category Overview by Judge Janet Dorozynski

This is the second year for separate flights of orange wine at NWAC with interest growing both in terms of entries and the category as a whole. While newish to the Nationals, orange wine as a style is not new and dates back thousands of years to the skin contact and amphora aged (qvevri) whites of the country of Georgia. There are plenty of orange wines made in northeastern Italy and bordering Slovenia and parts of the Balkans with the style becoming more popular and increasingly made in Canada over the past few years.

(Jump straight to the medal winners.)

Orange wines are not made from oranges but from white grapes made using red wine production techniques so that the skins and seeds are left in contact with the juice and result in an orange or amber hue to the finished wines. Skin contact whites are usually fuller bodied and more tannic than other white wines,with bold flavours and textures that make them well suited to foods with spice and fermented ingredients such as Korean kimchi and a range of curries. I also like them with salads since orange wines stand up nicely against acidic and vinegar laden dressings.

Both VQA Ontario and BC VQA have categories and/or regulate the production and use of the term skin contact or orange wines and there are orange wines being made successfully across the country. They are often from aromatic white varieties such as this year’s winners from muscat, gewurztraminer, pinot gris and even riesling, with many of the wines going beyond the required ten days of skin contact to 15 or 20 days of maceration on the skins.

And the winners are…

Orofino 2018 Orange – Skin Contact Muscat, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia

Culmina 2018 N° 008 Skin Contact Gewürztraminer, Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Dirty Laundry 2018 Au Naturel Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Three Sisters 2018 Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Trail Estate 2018 Skin-Ferment Riesling Hughes Vineyard, Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

Bartier Bros. 2018 Granite, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Joseph’s Estates Wines 2018 Muscat Orange Wine, Ontario
Sperling Vineyards 2018 Natural Amber Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia