There’s a certain stereotype that comes with orange wine. They are often known to be yeast, funky, cloudy, and distinctly ‘natural’ tasting. If the bottle is open too long, it can impart barnyard, mousy flavors to the wine.
And there are orange (or skin-contact) wines that do taste like this. But many new natural wine drinkers try a sip of these tart wines and think to themselves, “well, I guess I can check natural wine off my to-try list.”
Break these notions: skin-contact wines are not just overly yeasty, funky wines. Case in point: Stekar Rebula, a bright, skin-contact wine with wonderful floral aromas and a peachy palette from the Slovenian border.
Stekar’s winery is nestled in Slovenia’s Goriška Brda region, just a stone’s throw from the North-Eastern Italian border. They make wines through traditional natural processes, with heavy skin contact and no added sulfurs. It’s a tiny vineyard, with only ten hectares dedicated to Rebula (or Ribolla Gialla), Malvazija (Malvasia), Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes.
An exciting part of this area of Slovenia was once part of the Hapsburg empire. The site was a frequent battleground, and the names of the soldiers who lost their lives for their country are marked throughout the local wineries.
The rebula is one of their more common bottles, and it’s an excellent example of an orange wine. It’s not overly funky, but it still leans on natural processes. All grapes are hand-harvested in late September, and the skins are left on for 24 days before being processed out. The wine is aged in giant barrels for eight months before being bottled (sans filtration).
It’s a rich orange, with crisp, complex layers of fruits and minerals and uber-aromatic nose. Serve it slightly chilled, preferably under the sun. (I did just that at the beach this weekend.)