Anthony Road “Skin Ferment” Chardonnay 2014: $27 Very Good to Very Good+

There is a sudden rush in the Finger Lakes to make “orange wine” (white grapes fermented with their skins).  Some of these wines will be hard for most drinkers to accept (e.g. the Keuka Lake Vineyards “Amber Vignoles”) while others are a bit too cautious in their approach (e.g. the Red Tail Ridge “Miscreant”).  The Anthony Road “Skin Ferment” Chardonnay (Finger Lakes, NY) 2014 $27 [Very Good to Very Good+] seems just about right.  It hits all the notes.  Somewhat tannic (but not overly so), with bright fruit and very good balance, this wine should please both wine geeks and orange wine newbies.  Those who enjoy bitter flavors (Campari lovers take note) will like this bottle.

Anthony Road prefers to call this a “skin ferment” Chardonnay, rather than an “orange wine.”  I think this is quite reasonable and an important distinction, since  (1) this wine is not orange-y in color and (2) the method of production is very modern, without the use of oak barrels, clay vessels, oxidative aging, or other ancient “orange wine” techniques.

Medium lemon in color, the AR has a bright and interesting nose.  Light smoky notes and bitter herbs hang over a base of fresh apple and stone fruit, along with some good enlivening orange-y citrus.  Medium bodied, dry, with light to moderate grippy tannin, the AR is well balanced. Bright fresh flavors of apple, stone fruit and citrus are joined by equally intense bitter herbs, juniper, smoke, stone and a saline note.  The finish is lightly tannic with good followthrough, leaving notes of bitter citrus pith and smoky/stony notes behind.  I hesitate to put a label on this bottle, since orange wine is so far outside the mainstream, but it was certainly at least “very good” to my taste.  August 2015

Note: This wine was not on the AR web site, nor on display in the AR tasting room.  One of the tasting room employees found a bottle for me.


© Douglas Hillstrom 2014