Can Orange Wines Express Terroir?

Can orange wines—aka white wines produced with skin contact—truly express terroir? It’s a question that’s been posed frequently over the last five to seven years as the number of orange wines produced in Italy has been on the increase.

In his weekly column for Decanter, Andrew Jefford tries to unpack anti-orange comments made by Nicola Manferrari of Friuli’s Borgo del Tiglio, who suggested that when white wines are aged on the skins, “the subtleties of expression go missing, and the wines just taste of the method by which they were made.” This is an assertion made frequently by the style’s detractors.

Jefford paints himself as pro skin contact, but admits that the question of how long is too long for skin contact and at what point does the process obscure a wine’s sense of “place” is something that we need more wines and more time (don’t we all?) to answer. But he cautions against, in the rejection of the orange-wine creed, “skin neglect,” which, he warns, could “come to be seen as a grotesque oversight in late twentieth century white-wine making.” [Decanter]