Orgia is a sensual wine…
An Enlightened Wine
Orgia is a sensual wine… Served chilled, it looks like a rosé but has the texture of a red wine. It excites the palate with notes of orange zest, pear, honey, almonds, dried herb and sea salt with just a hint of a sherry-like quality for complexity. It starts bright then envelopes the tongue with a velvet mid-palate and finishes with a firm back bone of tannin. Orgia is interesting solo but much more thrilling at the table with an orgy of shellfish… particularly uni, anything with saffron, ceviche and pulpo. Surf’s up!
Orgia is a sensual wine…
Orgia is a sensual wine…
Served chilled, it looks like a rosé but has the texture of a red wine.
It excites the palate with notes of orange zest, pear, honey, almonds, dried herb and sea salt with just a hint of a sherry-like quality for complexity.
Orgia is interesting solo but much more thrilling at the table with an orgy of shellfish… particularly uni, anything with saffron, ceviche and pulpo.
A Moving Target...
The Evolution of Change!
I delude myself thinking we’ve got the wine game dialed-in when, in reality, it’s always a challenge to hit the bullseye on a moving target… but sometimes - yes, sometimes - we get pretty close! The challenge is that things change. The weather’s different every year, our vines get older, we get older, the public’s tastes change. As I age, my sense of taste and smell matures. The trick is to evolve with these changes as part of the design and continue to experiment and challenge ourselves.
There is a fantasy that we get better with age - if better is defined as having more experience to draw on, then that statement is true. It’s also an unfortunate fact that everyone’s sense of taste and smell changes as they age. Usually this means we like more intensity as we get older, whether it’s sparkling drinks, more salt, spice or chile on our food, harder spirits or even needing a more intense perfume or cologne to achieve the same level of “subtlety” we enjoyed in our youth.
Early on, I loved subtle, aromatic, high-acid wines. They grabbed me by the tongue, made me salivate and worked well with all the foods I love to eat. I still enjoy these bright wines but, looking back, sometimes I might have had the treble on my palate dialed up too high. Now I want something more complex with a little mid-range texture and some low end bass notes.
I sat down with David Lynch (owner and sommelier of St. Vincent in SF and author of “Vino Italiano” and “The Wine Snob’s Dictionary”) a few years back to discuss my increasing desire for wines with texture. Of course the conversation moved to Italian wines and the trendy somm infatuation with orange wines… that is, skin contact white wines. These wines are full of texture like a red, but have the minerality of a white. Some are quite oxidized while others are a little more lively. We both agreed that these wines were a bit of a crap shoot. Most were interesting to taste but not as pleasant to drink - however, with the right food pairing, some could be sublime! David suggested that with our culinary sensibilities, we should pursue this type of wine but instead of letting the wine happen to us, apply our precise winemaking techniques to create a wine with both texture and RSV’s renowned vibrancy. The challenge was accepted.
For inspiration, we tasted as many orange wines as we could get our hands on. We also experimented with many different foods and found that the best of these wines were “ramato,” or copper colored rather than orange, and had a wonderful, savory-saline quality that went phenomenally well with seafood - especially shellfish preparations. The biggest surprise was how well they went with urchin. Most of our favorites were made of Pinot Grigio aka Pinot Gris…. a variety planted in two of our Carneros estate vineyards. We were ready for the experiments begin!
After some lively conversation about style, winemaker Jeff Virnig created unique techniques for the maiden 2012 vintage. The trick was to allow extended skin contact in a way that the skins could be removed as soon as we felt we achieved the proper texture, yet leave the wine on the lees. The wine was beautiful with a nice mineral/saline quality and supple tannin but, in hindsight, we felt the wine could use a little more bass. So, when it came time for the 2013 vintage, we added a punch down (a technique more typical of Pinot Noir) for more extraction and some barrel aging in older French Oak barrels. The wine was held on the lees then racked before it rested in tank where it was exposed to some air that allowed it to develop a slight sherry-like character. During this time, the wine went through malolactic fermentation, softening the acidity a bit and pumping up the bass enough to make Dr. Dre proud.
So yes, things change. Two vintages of Orgia with diverse characteristics. Each vintage we learn something new about Pinot Gris, the “right” amount of texture and the quirky nature of a “ramato” wine. It is a work in progress that will no doubt be controversial - but Orgia just might change your idea of what a wine should and can be.
Land and Sea
Orgia might be born of the land, but it’s delicious with the bounty of the sea. Its perfume, color, and texture is captured from contact with the pale pinkish-gray skins of the Pinot Gris grape during fermentation. The skin contact elicits subtle savory aromatics and mouth-watering texture and acidity - characteristics of a food-savvy wine. Orgia’s savory saltiness is a great catch for all the creatures of the sea and lends it a natural affinity for saffron. Not in the mood for sea creatures? Try Orgia with a simple saffron risotto dotted with tiny sweet peas. Either way, enjoy!
Until the Next Wine....
Grown in RSV’s organically farmed, Carneros Estate “Three Amigos Vineyard,” the 2013 vintage of Orgia continues on the path of rustic refinement, exhibiting a rich, deep texture balanced by a firm back bone from extended skin contact. Orgia was comprised of 2 components: One lot was crushed into small, open-top bins where it fermented on its skins that were hand punched twice a day. Once dry, it was pressed off the skins and laid to rest in older French oak barrels. The other lot was whole cluster pressed and stainless steel fermented to capture the vibrant floral and mineral qualities of the Pinot Gris. However, the skins were collected into mesh bags and added to the tanks during fermentation and aging for an additional sixty days. The extended contact with the skins added texture and depth. The two components were blended together and bottled on March 31st 2014.