Orange wines (ancient as they may be) have seen quite a renaissance over the course of the 12 years or so I've been paying serious attention to the American wine market.
If you've heard much about orange wine you probably fall into one of two categories: you enjoy them and seek them out, or you dismiss them as generally flawed wines promoted ad nauseam by obnoxious "hipster sommeliers."
Orange wines are called such because they are made from white grapes but, unlike white wines, the juice is allowed some period of contact with the skins of the grapes. Grape skins give wine its color (this is why red wines are red and not pale copper in color), so white grapes that get skin contact come out in a range of orange-like hues. Usually categorized as so-called "natural" wines, they tend to be made in an old school, minimal-intervention kind of way. And, yes, while some surely suffer from a specific wine flaw, I've found the vast majority to be as delicious as they are fascinating.
During a recent Twitter tasting with my friend, and Virginia wine buff, Frank Morgan, I cracked open a Virginia orange wine that really astounded me. Hailing from Virginia powerhouse producer King Family Vineyards (in Crozet, VA) this Viognier is, hands down, the best I've tasted from Virginia all year. I don't usually do posts on a single wine, but I couldn't help myself with this beauty.
2014 King Family Vineyards Viognier Small Batch Series - Virginia, Central Virginia, Monticello
Rich golden, slightly orange color. Smells amazing: orange peel, shaved ginger, salted almond, yellow flowers, honey, spiced white tea — wow! Full-bodied with a plump and waxy mouthfeel but not heavy, and medium acidity keeps it alive. Complex, interwoven flavors of sea salt, crushed shells, salted almond, ginger, graham cracker, lemon curd, orange liqueur. Wow this is exceptional, delicious, complex, harmonious stuff. Virginia Viognier orange wine is apparently a thing and I, for one, am stoked. (92 points)
Sorry to report that the wine is sold out! This was the first year the wine was produced, and they only made one barrel of it. Good news is, the next release comes from seven barrels, which, while not a lot, is at least a bit more to go around.