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Veneto's Enticing Garganega

2017 Cavazza Creari Gambellara Classico DOC - (WHITE WINE)

This fresh and exciting Soave-style white from next door neighbour, Gambellara, is made with the subtle use of skin contact for added texture, yet remains delicate and elegant.

Skin-contact or ‘orange’ wine has become a genuine phenomenon in recent years. So what is this trend all about? In essence, any white wine can be used to make skin-contact or orange wine, the difference lies in the vinification technique. 

When most white wines are made, the grapes are pressed after harvest and separated from their skins, leaving only the juice to undergo fermentation. In contrast, red wines are made with both the juice and the skins undergoing fermentation together. This process is also referred to as maceration. 

The longer the juice is left to macerate, the more colour, tannin and complexity will be extracted from the skins, not unlike leaving a bag of tea to steep for extra time in your tea cup. When white wines are made this way, the darker colour can be quite pronounced, depending on the length of time and also the temperature at which the fermentation takes place.

As the white wines take on deep golden or amber hues, it is easy to see why they would be called 'orange', however, this term has caused a great deal of confusion, with some people wondering if the wine was made with oranges, or will taste like oranges. Consequently, there has been a marked shift away from the term “orange wines" to “skin-contact wines" instead.

The 2017 Cavazza Creari Gambellara Classico is a great place to start if you’ve never tried a skin-contact wine. Because it spends only 36 hours macerating, the effect is very subtle, with the most noticeable aspect being the bright golden colour (some skin-contact wines spend months or even years macerating!). Made with 100% Garganega grapes, the nose offers mineral notes, ripe yellow fruit and saffron and is quite approachable, even without food. Time on its own yeast and lees stirring also makes Creari well-rounded on the palate with a somewhat oily texture and a good amount of length. The major Italian wine publication, Gambero Rosso, has awarded it 2 glasses, denoting it ‘very good to excellent’ in its respective category.

This is an excellent pairing for fish, white meats and dishes with a bit of spice. Today, we suggest having it with Executive Chef Nino Zoccali’s Dalmatian wood-grilled calamari with red pepper mayonnaise, parsley and onion salad from his second cookbook, Venetian Republic.

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