Orange Wines are Deliciously Gorgeous

Orange Wines Las Vegas Carnevino

Yet here’s another reason why orange continues to be my favorite color – orange wines. I recently had a chance to try this gorgeous copper-hued wine, the 2011 Paolo Bea “Santa Chiara” Umbria Bianco.

Why is it so special? This one hails from Umbria, Italy. Often referred to as the “green heart of Italy,” it’s the only Italian region without access to the sea or international borders. Wines from here are not exactly famous, but they are interesting, delicious and definitely worth seeking. Next, orange wines are generally not widely available. In other words, they are rare treasures. Such is the case of this wine producer – Bea’s wine-making practices focus on high quality artisanal wines, however, their production is low.

Paolo Bea’s “Santa Chiara” 2011 is a fascinating orange wine with a unique field blend of Grechetto, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, and Garganega. If these are all white grapes, then what makes the wine orange? To clarify, it has nothing to do with orange fruit. Orange wines are white wines produced more like reds, with prolonged contact of crushed grape skins and seeds. This contact produces the distinctly beautiful hue. Ranging in color from butterscotch to tawny brown, they can also vary from vintage to vintage.

Often made in clay vessels or wooden barrels, this is an ancient wine making style that has recently been revitalized by Italians and Slovenians, and are produced today by enterprising winemakers worldwide.

It’s not easy to describe the “Santa Chiara.” It has a very different and unique aroma and quite generous in flavor – with spice, cantaloupe-like, rustic, earthy good funk going on in the glass.

Generally speaking orange wines often possess the body and tannins of red wines and the fruit and minerality of white wines, which it probably why I like it so much.  They are stylistically unique, and many offer earthy savoriness, with a richly textured mouth-feel.

Some claim orange wines to be a fad, but I think they offer a wealth of virtues. They are quite hard to find, however.

As for trying one out, look for a restaurant with a solid Italian wine list. In Las Vegas that would be none other than B&B Ristorante (The Venetian) and Carnevino Italian Steakhouse (The Palazzo).

Burgundy tasting with Clive Coates in Las Vegas

Clive Coates, MW (Master of Wine), one of the world’s leading wine authorities and also known for his books about Burgundy wines, led a Burgundy tasting in Las Vegas hosted by Wirtz Beverage Nevada.  Held inside Wirtz’s Alchemy Room, a cutting edge beverage education and development lab, the tasting featured a flight of red and white wines by Albert Bichot and Louis Jadot.

I was honored to be in the same room with this well-known British author and lecturer, who is so respected around the world.  Coates published THE VINE, an award-winning independent fine wine magazine from 1984 to 2005. Read by oenophiles the world over, THE VINE received numerous awards, including a special commendation for its “considerable contribution to the knowledge and understanding of wine” from the Wine Guild of Great Britain. Coates, who holds a lifetime of distinguished activity in the field, has been recognized by the French government, which awarded him the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole. He has also been honored with a “Rame d’Honneur” by Le Verre et L’Assiette, the Ruffino/Cyril Ray Memorial Prize for his writings on Italian wine, and the title of “Wine Writer of the Year” for 1998/1999 in the Champagne Lanson awards.


In Burgundy’s 138-mile span from Chablis to the southern limit of Beaujolais, the climate and soils vary greatly.  But, what all the subregions have in common is fidelity to the two main grapes of the Burgundy region -Chardonnay and Pinot Noir- and hands-on approach in the vineyard and cellar.

John Smith, a fine and rare wine expert at Wirtz Beverage is also a long-standing member of The Chevaliers du Tastevin, the most exclusive wine society in the world.  He spent a lot of time in Burgundy during the same time Coates would be visiting properties to write his reviews.

“I find that he [Coates] encapsulates the people and their life with great accuracy,” says Smith.   “He has the singular ability to translate the passion of the vignerons over multiple generations. His writing has a gentle elegance that emphasizes the life and passion of a small, yet extremely diverse lifestyle. More importantly when he taste wines, he comments in such a way as to bring the wine to life.”

It is Smith’s hope that through this tasting, we learned that unlike many winemaking regions of the world, nowhere else has the passion for the terroir and the wines produced. Certainly, Coates, who resides in Burgundy, brought this famed region directly to us that day.   He presented a magnificent combination of history, science, anecdotes and judgments, mixed in with the occasional phrase he likes to use: “a jolly good wine.” Lucky for us, he referred to some of these wines as such:



Louis Jadot Chablis 2012

Louis Jadot Santenay, Clos de Malte Blanc 2012

Louis Jadot Mersault 2012

Louis Jadot Chassage Montrachet, Morgeot Blanc 2012




Bourgogne Pinot Noir Secret de Famille 2012

Albert Bichot Savigny-les-Beaune 2012

Albert Bichot Beaune Clos de l’Ermitage 2012

Pommard Clos de Ursulines, Domaine du Pavillon 2012

Gevry-Chambertin Les Murots, Domaine du Clos Frantin 2012