What to expect this week?
Earlier closing, but mostly business as usual
Will be closed until further notice.
Takeway wine and beer only.
We will be only accepting card payments (including Amex)
Local DAILY non contact bike deliveries as per usual
All our wines and beers are available via the website
And next day nationwide courier
We have three new English wines in stock, all from an exciting producer we’d like to formally introduce: Tillingham.
Previously, we’ve only had a couple of their sparkling wines in the shop (Col‘17 & PN’18), and now we’ve got our hands on some of their new still offerings. These include a white blend, an orange wine, and a rosé, so there’s something for almost everyone.
Tillingham Wines is part of a mixed 70 acre farm in Sussex, where they’ve been raising livestock and growing vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees as well! They just planted their very own grape vines in the spring of 2018 – the same year they released their first vintage using bought-in grapes – so they’re very new to the scene. This has worked to their benefit, as they’ve been able to observe the marriage of old and new methods in the world of viticulture and the rise in visibility for natural wines.
Ben Walgate, who founded Tillingham, started out making cider and has moved on to wine – all while maintaining a focus on ecological diversity and biodynamic practices. He uses a huge range of grape varieties and fermentation vessels, making their offerings extremely unique and progressive. Notably, Ben has invested in qvevri, which is a Georgian terra cotta vessel (shaped a bit like a giant vase) used to ferment wine: often buried in the ground.
The choices in Ben’s methods are guided by ‘natural’ farming principles, as well as his intuition. As a result, he has rapidly built himself a reputation for producing intriguing, quirky, high quality wines that are sure to be sought after for years to come. Stop in to hear us gush more about how much we enjoy the delicious bottles we’ve gotten in from the Tillingham range. The entire range is also available on our website.
We’ve been bringing in loads of new fun and funky wines to our range lately, and that has included several orange wines (much to Sophia’s delight). This style of wine was originally introduced to our blog in this post “Orange Peel Ain’t Real”. For more on the history of orange wine, give it a quick read.
To recap on the basics though, orange wine is usually white wine made like a red wine – sort of.
This will make more sense when I mention that another name for orange wine is ‘skin contact’ white wine. All red wine is made with skin contact; that is, the grape skins are left on during the fermentation/maceration process. This is what gives red wine its gorgeous colour. White wine, on the other hand, usually is processed with the skins removed, which is how its look is so light and clear. Following?
So, leave the skins on the white grapes for a bit (a few hours, days, or weeks depending on what vibe the winemaker is going for) and voila! You have a lovely orange wine. They range from a light gold to bright orange, amber, or even rosy pink. The range in flavour is even wider, so don’t expect a simple answer if you ask: “So what does orange wine taste like?”. It’s like asking how white wine or red wine taste: how much time do you have?
But here’s an overview of some tasty examples, and reasons why orange wine is often my go-to choice.
One box that I find orange wines tend to tick is for the people who want something chilled, but aren’t massive fans of how bright/light/acidic white wine is. The option for that is our skin contact Pinot Grigio, Lunaria Ramoro. As someone who has had too much bad Pinot Grigio in my life already, I can safely say the Ramoro is a cringe-free Pinot Grigio experience. It pours out a soft rosy colour, and maintains all of the usual freshness of the grape. Super smooth, this wine has lovely floral, fruity qualities, making it an excellent aperitif or a partner for some lighter seafood.
Or how about this dilemma: you only drink white wine, but your dining/drinking partner lives and dies by red wine (or vice versa). You’re splitting a bottle, and you’ve already ruled out rosé. The solution is orange wine. It has enough body, flavour and tannin to satisfy the red wine drinker, but not so much that it will put off the white wine fan (plus it’s chilled). My favourite for this scenario is our reverse orange wine, the Stapleton & Springer Orange Pinot Noir. Remember when I said orange ‘usually’ white wine made like a red, earlier? This is a red wine with the skins removed almost immediately, processed more like a white. You still get some creamy red fruit flavours from the Pinot Noir grapes, making it perfect for those who ‘only drink red wine/white wine’ and can’t agree.
Another group that tends to enjoy orange wines might come as a surprise: beer drinkers! Particularly for those who enjoy sours, tarts, saisons, lambics, etc. our Orange Riesling by Kloster Ebernach is for that person you know who claims to know nothing about wine, but wants to dip a toe in the wine pool for a break from their usual beer order. It’s got a decent body, with enough tartness and fragrance to keep your sour beer fan happy. I highly encourage you to have it with creamy cheeses, or that cut of dark meat you’ve been eyeing on the turkey at your next roast.
Orange wines are also stellar for pairing with really full-flavoured food: that is where I think they really shine.
If we’re talking major umami or anything really fatty, I would recommend our Italian Baglio Bianco, which has some serious cider flavours going on. Think apples and pears with the skins left on – perfect for your pork loin, smoky sausages, mushrooms or roast chicken. Alternatively, try the Liquid Skin from our South African friends at Mother Rock. It’s got a nice bite from being fermented whole-bunch (meaning all of the stems and twigs and tiny branch bits are in there with the grapes), making this peachy, chunky orange wine much more full and tart than some of our other offerings. It’ll cut right through the fatty meats or oily fish you’re cooking.
For anything with chilli, orange wine is my go-to for beating the heat. It’s chilled, keeping us refreshed when the heat levels get us sweating or excusing ourselves to blow our noses. And these wines often have so much texture, tannin, or body from the skin contact that they can really hold their own when drunk with foods that would have your dry Sav. Blanc or delicate Chenin tasting like water.
Honestly, I think any of the above would be delightful with your hotter, spicier meals. I would also add our Slovakian offering from Slobodne, the Cutis Deviner. The Cutis Deviner brings all of the perfume to the party: it is flowery, peachy, fresh, and clean. A serious contender for your pre-meal drinks, or better yet for something with a bit of chilli. However, of the aforementioned, I’d probably lean towards the following as my top picks:
Stapleton & Springer Orange Pinot Noir
Mother Rock Liquid Skin
Now, if all of this is sounding a bit overwhelming and you’re worried that you might need a more gradual introduction to orange wines, do not despair! We have some sneaky skin contact whites that you wouldn’t necessarily realise are orange wines without a bit of reading or chat about them.
For those orange wine beginners among us, we have the Fontanasanta, Manzoni Bianco by Foradori. With just a touch of a golden hue, this elegant blend brings some delicious stone fruit flavours and a slight nutty quality. Skin contact or no, it’s an exquisite white wine for any occasion. Another front runner in this category is the Grenache Gris by Albert Ahrens in South Africa. Silky and fragrant, this wine only has a few days of time on the skins, making it all the more complex and floral. The final option is our Little Bastard from Staffelter Hof in Germany, which is a blend of four different grapes – most of which only have a few hours with their skin. It’s tangy and bright, with a surprise of solid minerality despite its funky, fruity fragrance.
Feel free to come chat about orange wine in the shop – happy to gush about how delicious it is any day. And if you’re apprehensive about committing to a whole bottle without knowing what you’re in for, be on the lookout for it on the wine list next time you’re out for a meal! Our team next door at Forest Bar + Kitchen often rotate a skin contact option onto their offerings by the glass, and orange wines seem to be a staple on many lists in restaurants focusing on natural wines.
My suggestion? If you see it as an option by the glass somewhere, ask for a taste! They’ll almost always be happy to let you try a little bit before ordering, since they want you to enjoy whatever you order. Even if you don’t end up buying a glass (or a bottle) you can try new and exciting orange wines to get a feel for how different and tasty they can be.
If you’ve tried something new in the world of skin contact wines, let us know your thoughts next time you’re in the shop! We’d love to hear your orange wine stories.
In part two of this consideration of early winter wine, we can move into more familiar territory: reds.
I say more familiar, because red wine is typically what most jump to after the first jacket-worthy day. If you think you have abandoned white wine for this season, read the last post to see how you can keep white wine in your life as the nights get longer.
So! It’s chilly, it’s gloomy, and we start to lean on our room temperature offerings to warm us up and keep up with the heavier foods we start indulging in this season. Winter is coming here. But! We’re not in the thick of it quite yet. We need to save our heaviest hitters for the icy tundra of January and February. In the interim, we need something with a little more heft than we had when we could still expose our arms at night.
Here are some red wines from our range, for when we all start to wish we had fireplaces in our little London homes:
Bodega Cecchin, 2015 - Mendoza, Argentina
This Cab is herbal and lean, with slightly smoky aromas. It has a leathery, earthy flavours, making it an excellent pair for your steak and mushroom creations, or for plates littered with roasted root vegetables. This is not a particularly fruity Cabernet, so anything with some decent umami flavours or sweet/savoury earthy qualities is what we’re after with this wine.
Joan d’Anguera Planella, 2015 - Montsant, Spain
A nice complex blend from the east coast of Spain, this opens up with a fragrant, almost fruity liqueur scent. It has a very plush texture, with even more fruit and some spice on the finish. Nice and rich, but not too heavy. This would be lovely with those extra savoury, meaty dishes. Another option would be to pair it after dinner with some punchy, funky cheese to finish off the night.
Rosso di Caparsa, Azienda Agricola Caparsa, 2016 - Tuscany, Italy
An excellent medium bodied red, reminiscent of a Chianti Classico. It is fairly fresh and silky, for when it’s approaching frosty, but not totally frigid outside. It has a gorgeous balance of dark red fruit with spice, making it a nice food wine, but not so overbearing that it couldn’t be a pre-dinner option. Scents are more leathery, woody, and floral. This Sangiovese is a nice partner for meaty pasta dishes, charcuterie, essentially anything meaty but not too heavy. Pre-hibernation wine.
Adelina, Shiraz Mataro, 2015 - Clare Valley, Australia
Do not be deceived by the grape varieties in this Aussie red: it is decently light for a Shiraz. In this 100% hand-picked wine, the bright red fruits (cherries, raspberries, etc.) balance the time it has spent in old oak. The tannins are subtle but present, and this red can keep us in denial of the decreasing numbers on the thermostat. Close the blinds and pretend it’s still early autumn with this one. Some nice grilled or roasted mushrooms and sausages would go very nicely with this Shiraz, as would a beef stew or pie. Let it lift up your savoury food and your seasonal affective disorder.
Ou Treffer, 2016 - Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cinsaut is a South African classic when it comes to wine, and this one comes in strong. Nice crunchy fruit brighten up this very structured red. It’s been fermented whole-bunch, with all the stems and skins and leaves bringing that spice and tannin. A very versatile food wine, you could even lightly chill this red. If you do, try it with some spicy seafood for dinner. If you’re keeping it room temperature, it would be excellent with richer meats, like duck or lamb. This will be a nice one to treat the family to when you’re showing off your culinary skills (or your ability to navigate Deliveroo extremely well).
These reds, plus the whites we already discussed (Did you read it? Get on it!), should be a nice starter kit for this turning weather. As it gets colder, these wines should help warm you up — but won’t jump the gun for when you need something even bigger for the new year. If you need more inspiration, come say hey and chat in the shop. Enjoy, friends.
Now that we’re far and away from complaining about how hot it is, we can get to whingeing about how cold it is. Because winter is finally coming. And you know what that means…
We start cooking more hot dishes, more comforting meals to keep us warm. It’s a nice intro for our bodies: a bit richer, but not quite as heavy as what we cook in the dead of winter (aka January through March). And a shift in food choice means a change in wine to pair with it. Some of my food favourites for when the air gets cold:
- Herbed chicken
- Cream-sauced anything
- Spicy noodles
- Homemade soup
- Warm grain salads
- Fish pie
- Roasted vegetables
- All of the cheese
And if you (like the rest of us) spent the summer guzzling crisp whites or doing “rosé all day” to beat the heat, you might need a little reminder which wines go with the heavier dishes we enjoy when debating whether to cave and turn the heating on for “maybe just one hour longer…”.
We’ll start with the whites, as those seem to be a little trickier this time of year. Here are some top picks from our range to help you ignore the dropping temperatures:
Villavieja, 2017 - Mendoza, Argentina
This white moves us away from citrus and tropical fruit, towards richer stone fruits — think apricots and pears. Viognier has a richer texture than the whites we loved all summer, making it the perfect partner to some curried chicken, or a Thai takeaway when you just can’t be bothered to cook anything because it’s too cold and you’re too tired and you deserve it. It’ll coat your mouth, soothing any chili (or worries) like a blanket.
Ottavio Rube Bianco, 2016 - Piedmont, Italy
This indigenous unfiltered and unfined white blend has a medium body and a little cloudiness to it. It carries a lovely balance of big plummy flavours with some herbal qualities, making this rustic wine an excellent pair for a wide range of food. Anything from a cheese board to a complex or flavoursome seafood dish to a lighter roast would complement this bottle.
Baglio Bianco, 2017 - Sicily, Italy
Okay, so this is technically an orange wine. Keep this in mind before purchasing, as orange wine can be a fairly polarising beverage (meaning, maybe don’t pick one up to bring to a dinner party unless the guest list includes some wine nerds). With that in mind, this Catarratto has a lovely golden colour, and minimal sediment. It’s very flavourful, with the skin-contact bringing out some cider and pear flavours. For anything made with pork or dark meat poultry, this one’s a winner.
Jackhammer, 2014 - Monterey County, California, USA*
Okay, for you Chardonnay haters: hear me out. This ain’t your nan’s buttery, oaky Chardonnay from the early 90s. This is an unoaked Chardonnay, with loads going for it. Smells fruity and bright, with some nice nutty clove flavours to balance the lovely acidity in this white wine. So when you’re feeling like something creamy for dinner, or getting your omegas in with some roasted fish, this is the one for you.
*Disclaimer: just found out that the supplier is discontinuing this as of next year’s vintage for the time being, so if we’re sold out by the time you read this, another stellar choice would be this fresh, fruity, Italian Chardonnay as a backup!
Vadiaperti, 2016 - Campania, Italy
This Italian white has flavour for days. It smells a bit nutty at the start, with a bit of bright citrus zest and smokiness among its complex notes. With a lingering, almost honeyed finish, this minerally white has a lot going on. It can easily go toe to toe with your richer pork, veal, or game bird dish that you spent so much time on perfecting. That tasty, nutritious meal deserves a wine that can match the effort (and love) you put into it.
And there you have it. We can’t quit white wine cold turkey, nor should we, just because the days are looking as short as your lunch break feels. Hopefully this will get you started as we approach the holidays.