Stag's Hollow Winery News
Welcome to the Stag's Hollow blog! Stay up to date on everything happening at the winery, including highlights on wine competition awards, events (on and off-site), wine education info, promotions, and articles that feature our wines.
Natural Wine vs Organic Wine vs Orange Wine
These wines have been getting a lot of attention in the past couple of years, with winemakers all around the world excited to create these interesting wines. It has often left the consumer very confused as to the distinction between a Natural Wine vs Orange Wine vs Organic Wine or asking the question, ‘why would they even want to make a wine like this in the first place?’ Grab a glass of wine and let me try to explain the differences.
In Canada, Certified Organic Wines are few and far between, in part because of the difficulty of getting the cellar and bottling line certified (must only process organic fruit/wine). The vineyard and winery must be certified through either the provincial or federal certification programs, after proving that the land has been farmed to these organic standards for at least 3 years. This means that no toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers are used in the vineyard, relying more on mechanical weeding, organic sprays and integrated pest management strategies to create habitats for beneficial insects. Certified organic wines also do not use any GMO products. Far more common are wines “made with organically grown grapes”, which require a minimum of 70% of the grapes to be grown organically.
Natural Wine, according to Isabelle Legeron, MW, founder of RAW Wine, is wine from grapes “farmed organically or biodynamically, and made without adding or removing anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and intervention in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. As such, neither fining nor (tight) filtration are used.” There are however no regulations or standards regarding natural wine so they can run the gamut from very clean and complex wines to a “bacterial cesspool”, as I’ve overheard some winemakers and wine writers refer to them! Ultimately, clean winemaking is clean winemaking, whether ‘natural’ or ‘conventional’.
Orange Wines, also known as Amber Wines in some parts of the world, are not made from oranges (unless perhaps you are in Florida!). Whereas grapes intended for white wines are pressed immediately and the wine is made from the juice, red wines get their colour and tannin from having the skins and seeds in the fermentation vessel with the juice; same thing with orange wines (skin-contact white wines). Our current release of an orange wine is our 2018 Orange Vidal. This wine gets its colour, medium tannins and savoury character from 3 weeks of skin contact during, and after, fermentation. Orange wines typically have a more savoury character - they are not fruity wines. Enjoy them as you would a light red - served slightly chilled, not cold, preferably with food. They will cellar for up to 5 years.
So, a natural wine is always made from organic grapes, but is not necessarily an orange wine. An orange wine is sometimes a natural wine, but not necessarily (it can be made conventionally). Certified organic wines might be natural, might be orange, but not necessarily. Any questions? 😜
Only 1% of all the wine made in the world is meant for serious ageing, which means 99% is meant to be consumed sooner than later! As a general rule, everyday red wines will last up to 5 years and everyday whites and rosés will last between 2 and 3 years. Screwcaps have changed these guidelines considerably, adding a few more years to the timeline.
In order to determine which red wines are suitable for extended ageing you must look at 4 main traits: Colour, Tannin, Acidity and Alcohol. The colour should be vibrant - if it is already looking dull and brickish at the start, it likely won’t last for an extended period. The colour tends to often coincide with the concentration of the fruit flavours, which needs to be high to begin with in order to dissipate with age. Tannins help preserve freshness in wine, so typically (although not always) wines with higher tannins will age better. Acidity is something that wasn’t considered in ageability for a long time, however acidity helps preserve the wine as much as tannins do. Wines with higher acidity generally age better. Wines with alcohol levels between 12-13.5% abv are generally considered more ageable than those with 14.5-15%. The exception comes with fortified wines, the best of which can age for a decade or more.
For white wines you must look at 3 main traits: Colour, Acidity and Sweetness. Because white wines darken through oxidation, most age-worthy whites are nearly clear at the beginning. Because white wines don’t have tannins to preserve the freshness of the wine, higher acidity is key. Sugar can act as a preservative above certain levels, which explains why Icewines can often age for over 10 years.
If you have questions about any Stag's Hollow Wines that you have hiding in your cellar, please reach out to us; we're happy to provide some guidance.