Vin de France Natural Orange 2023

We made our first commercial release of Orange wine in 2022 following a couple of years of trial and error. Amazingly it was rated one of the Top Five Orange wines in a tasting by the prestigious World of Fine Wine magazine in November 2023.

In our second vintage we’re making two different Orange wines and the first of these to be bottled is our Natural Orange made from 100% Rolle. It’s made from certified organic fruit, and without any added sulphites or other additives and without any filtration or other mechanical winemaking intervention; nothing added, nothing taken.

Orange means it’s a wine from white grapes but made like red wine meaning that it’s fermented on skins for a certain period of time. Practices vary; our Natural Orange saw two weeks maceration on skins. This is what gives it the recognisable colour and impacts the aromas, flavours and texture. As a point of reference, orange wine is to white wine as red wine is to rosé wine.

Our wine has a distinctive hazy orange hue, a gentle astringency as well as great salty acidity that comes from fermentation on the skins. It has thrilling fruit aromas and relatively low alcohol. It’s a living wine so the flavours will evolve with aeration from an initial orange spectrum of dried apricot, kumquat, orange peel, confit orange, and quince with hints of seaweed, dried grass, Darjeeling tea and mineral notes, to become more mandarin and pineapple and nutty. It’s bone dry, low in acidity yet juicy and lively and has a terrific salty freshness on the finish.

While many Orange wines can taste more of the method by which they’re made, our Orange wines, like the best, express our beautiful terroir.

It comes from the same terroir as our other wines which is where we get the balance of freshness and fruit richness. It’s a perfect terroir for producing the kind of wines we love to drink and love to produce: with clear and rich fruit flavours, good balancing acidity for refreshment, and the energy you get in a wine that really tastes of the fruit it’s made from.

Our terroir is the beautiful, historic wine region of the Ventoux, near Gigondas and Vacqueyras. It’s a landscape of hills and mountain, wild Provençal herbs that perfume the air, pine woods, lavender, olive trees, vines, and beautiful light. The dry, sunny Mediterranean climate is perfect for growing grapes. The Ventoux, at 1900m, is Provence’s highest mountain and named after the word for wind “vent”. We get some altitude here; our vines are planted at 150 to 220m, with plenty of natural ventilation. The combination of cooling winds and relative altitude gives the wines an unusual and natural freshness for our region which is a great counter balance to the sun-soaked richness of the fruit.

Rolle is better known as Vermentino in Italy in particular in Sardinia which is not far off the south-east coast of France. It’s reasonably widespread in the Var department, between where we’re located and the sea. It’s rare, however, in the Southern Rhône Valley, indeed it’s not even permitted in the Appellation wines (but then the Appellations prohibit all sorts of heritage and interesting minor varieties). Yet it’s a very interesting grape because it’s both disease-resistant and produces great quality at higher yields (unlike Grenache blanc or Clairette, our traditional grape varieties). It’s a variety which is fruity and a little spicy, mineral, and floral with great acidity.

We chose this particular parcel to make the Natural Orange because it happened to meet the criteria we were looking for by way of “raw material”; a reasonably high yield so it wouldn’t be too rich to ferment naturally with ease, yet would possess a good balance of acidity and fruit ripeness. It happened to be a parcel that’s certified organic, but is neither too young, nor too old and which also formed part of the regular Orange 2022.

All our fruit is grown without herbicides and pesticides and using basically organic methods (sulfur to control mildew) but we don’t certify all because of the cost, both financially and, we believe, to the environment since more organic product is required to treat than non-organic which means more tractor use, therefore more carbon footprint as well as more disturbance of the soils.

We de-stemmed and then gently crushed the berries before placing them into an enamel tank to ferment on their skins for two weeks with indigenous yeasts. We very lightly controlled the temperature to 22ºC and gave the wine plenty of aeration throughout to ensure future stability. It was racked and bottled off its fine lees without filtration so there’s a deposit and the wine may appear a little cloudy but this is totally normal and may even mean more flavour.

It was bottled on January 10 2024 in a lightweight green bottle (400gm) under Diam Origine 5 cork (the best for sustainability and for the wine) and without a capsule (to reduce carbon footprint). The wine is certified Organic but we don’t put the leaf or other mark on the label because some markets prohibit it. The label is a slight variation from our regular range to signal it’s made without added sulfites.

Alcohol 12.5%
SO2 Total < 5 mg/L (zero added)
Total Acidity 2,86 | pH 3,70
Production 6,000 bottles

Vintage Notes 2023

2023 was another hot and dry vintage in which the earlier ripening fruit matured with a great balance of fruit and freshness due to a decent amount of rain the previous winter as well as early summer. Later ripening fruit, being half the red, suffered by comparison from a heatwave in mid to late August leading to higher alcohol levels and rich but relatively simple fruit (so we’re not making any red wines from this fruit).