Now is an exciting time to be an vinophile in Canberra, with a new breed of winemakers and open-minded sommeliers blurring the line between red and white wines to give orange wine its moment in the sun.
Known variously as orange, natural or skin-contact wine, the amber-hued drops making it on to local wine lists are essentially white wines that have been fermented like reds. In this process, the white grape juice and skins are left in contact – the same way they would be for red wine. The result is a complex, savoury wine with a weightier mouthfeel than your average white.
By experimenting with different winemaking techniques, Canberra District producers such as Ravensworth, Mount Majura Vineyard, Lark Hill and Yarrh are now delivering richly textured, highly aromatic orange wines that are sometimes cloudy and always thought-provoking.
Marcellus Heleta, general manager at Raku, says minimal-intervention, or ‘low-fi’ winemaking methods are resulting in some well-balanced food-friendly styles that even the most conservative of wine drinkers can enjoy. “Because of the extended skin contact and lack of fining agents, natural wines tend to have a broader flavour spectrum as well as greater weight and tannins,” he explains.
The richness and umami characters inherent to orange wines, adds Marcellus, render them a natural fit for Japanese cuisine. A favourite pairing is the Mount Majura Vineyard ‘Molli’ blend served with chef Hao San’s barramundi shio yaki and grapefruit ponzu. The pinot gris-riesling blend also matches scampi and foie gras sushi wonderfully, he says.
Reserve a table at Raku today to sample some of our region’s finest wines accompanied by authentic Japanese flavours.