OK so, this is a strange wine. Not going to beat about the bush. You never REALLY know what you’re gonna get with skin-contact whites. Pretty much always an adventure. From relatively subtle and classic Pinot Gris’ to the opposite of literally UNDRINKABLE sauv-blancs and albarinos, with *interesting* stuff of various varieties jammed in between. This wine lies firmly at the upper end of the *enjoyable* scale, but with asterisks. First of all, I think the Petit Manseng grape is fairly perfectly-suited to orange wine. Small berries and thick skins are a dream recipe for maceration. I would love to taste this triple-blind–with no input as to color–as I might even call it a light red.
Dark golden in the glass, but the rim refreshingly clear and canary. Heady briar and savory herb fill the nose, a sauté of court bouillon laced with light tropical fetish and–peculiarly–considerable oak. It is a calm, round, acidic bouquet: wet clay and buttery carmelization; weedy splendor on pear and peach puree; apple-pie crust cut with a rusty knife.
But tasting it is really where things get interesting. Sweet-bitter is the initial reaction, but it’s actually more of a lush-acidic combination tingling the tongue. It is a full, rich white wine, with copious body–chewy and meaty–and the structure contained is positively invigorating. Tannin is impossible to ignore, though it is an orange sort of beast: spritely and cherubic, you can TASTE the yellow tincture. Completely balanced, absolute perfection in a wine you really don’t have any placemarks to judge *perfection* by. What I’m saying is: it WORKS. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Golden raspberry and apple-butter coat every surface, while the angst of bitter under-pinnings work desperately to dissuade the user from complacency. And complacent it will not be: trading that in for gorgeousness.
This is one of those wines that make every other orange-wine offering seem like supermarket pablum. This is a wine akin to those frequent conversations about “what’s the difference between $25 cabernet and $100 cabernet?” This thing is the luxurious ideal, easily stealing the show in the skin-contact luxury sweepstakes. I mean–seriously: if you’ve rolled your eyes at orange wine or had a few lackluster ones, get a bottle of this. It’s the PRADA version.
2019 SABELLI-FRISCH ‘Milk-Fed 2’ Petit Manseng Saureal Vyd El Dorado California 13.9