October wine pro June Rodil was inspired by the fall season (and Halloween in particular) to pick a selection of “black and orange” wines. So we dove into a selection of skin contact — aka “orange” — wine along with inky, rich black-fruited reds. The change in season allows us to shift from summer porch pounders and lightly chilled reds to wines with depth, dimension, and lushness that blast our taste buds with vibrant flavors — or as June put it, “wines that are a little cozier, a little warmer, and more enveloping like that favorite sweater you can’t wait to wear.”
Here are the wines that helped us dip our toes into autumn:
- Borgo Savaian di Bastiani Stefano ‘Aransat’: Here we have a blend of pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc grapes that have been seeping color from their skins for 90 days! (Most white grapes usually have their skins removed immediately or after soaking for a couple of hours or days.) With its amber-gold color and layers of flavors and textures, this wine is like opening a bag of dried fruits and nuts while walking through the woods. You’ll get peaches and apricots, papaya skins, cashews and marcona almonds, plus a touch of cumin and a whiff of earth.
- Weingut Schlossmühlenhof ‘Das Ist Keine Orange’: This is made mostly of Müller-Thurgau with a touch of riesling, pinot gris, and even some sankt laurent (a red grape, y’all). Müller-Thurgau is a grape good at holding sweetness, and here it makes for a less-bitter skin-contact wine. It’s fruit-driven with notes of frozen orange juice concentrate, underripe pineapple, and a dash of grapefruit bitters, plus mulled spices and a little earth.
- Bojo do Luar ‘Tez’ Vinho Branco: This is a Vinho Verde made with 50 percent avesso and 50 percent azal grapes. The avesso is left on its skins for five months while the azal, known to bring freshness and acidity to wines, is directly pressed and made in the traditional style of a white wine. This is savory, with white pepper spice and fruit that is nuanced with dried apple skin and Meyer lemon zest. There’s a whiff of kombucha and sherry here, too.
- Vera de Estenas Bobal Utiel-Requena: This is 100 percent bobal, a grape that loves to take in the cool Mediterranean Sea air. That climate helps this wine retain a lovely lift and spring in its step amid the powerful flavors of black cherry, blueberry, and crunchy black plum. This is a wonderful wine for those looking for weight and richness without a cloying quality of saccharine fruit and oak. It’s balanced and can pair with any food that kisses the fire.
- Fabien Jouves ‘Les Escures’ Malbec: Here’s a malbec unlike most. It comes from old vines in Cahors, France, which help showcase the intensely dark-purple pigment and the cassis-like flavors. If something were to taste like ultraviolet, this would be it. This would be ideal with steak for those who eat meat, or something else grilled for those who don’t.
- Weingut Familie Bauer ‘Höllotrio’: At the core of this wine, you have fresh honeydew and green pears surrounded by the beauty of bitterness: arugula, chrysanthemum leaves, peppery zest, and chamomile tea. A fun bonus: This wine arrives in a liter bottle, so drink up! This is a great skin-contact wine for those who fear the funk — it’s all about being clean and fresh.
- Castello di Stefanago Provincia di Pavia Rosso: This wine is light and made for happiness. It’s filled with deep, velvety layers that come together to make a happy and fresh tapestry of gleeful, mouth-watering fruit: Tart and ripe raspberry, framboise, black cherry, and hibiscus syrup all meld together seamlessly. It comes to us from Lombardy, near Piedmont in northwest Italy, a place known for structured wines that can take ages to become palatable. This, however, is ready for you now!
- Queen of the Galaxy Vin de California: This is 100 percent barbera from Contra Costa in California, and named after Jane Fonda’s character in Barbarella (it absolutely embodies that same fierceness). Here, barbera retains the shining brightness and fruitiness of its unique DNA while processed with organic practices and minimal sulfites.
Want to explore more skin-contact wines or dark-fruited red wines? Buy more bottles of this month's wine here.