I’ve had the privilege of attending quite a few Acqua Panna Global Wine Experiences over the years. Organised as part of  the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, the wine masterclasses offer a unique opportunity to sample some terrific, often hard-to-find or unusual wines, and the guest panels often include international wine critics, renowned winemakers and sommeliers.

The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW was one of four panelists on “The Not So Classics” masterclass moderated by wine journalist Mike Bennie at Melbourne’s Town Hall last Sunday. She was joined by Rollo Crittenden, winemaker at Mornington Peninsula’s Crittenden Estate, Sebastian Crowther MS, Head Sommelier of Rockpool est. 1989, and winemaker Kathleen Quealy of Mornington Peninsula’s Quealy.

As the name of the panel suggests, the 12 wines in four brackets were not your classic varieties. Two of the white wines were “orange” wines, the 2011 Tissot Amphorae Savignon from Jura in France and the 2010 Dario Princic Jakot, a fruliano from Friuli in Northeast Italy. Their inclusion in the lineups sparked much debate.

If you’re not familiar with orange wines, you would probably be a bit shocked by a white wine that is cloudy in appearance and has a definite orange or amber hue. This was certainly the reaction from an audience member to the 2011 Tissot Amphorae Savagnin. He wondered what was wrong with wine no. 2?

Perrotti-Brown suggested that the wine was faulty, showing unfavourable signs of oxidation (eg. flat on the palate and bitter in taste), but her opinion wasn’t shared by some other panel members.

Quealy explained that what makes orange wine so unusual, not only to look at but to smell and taste, is the novel technique of letting a white grape variety ferment on its own skin.

Tissot Amphorae SavagninSkin maceration is normally a … Read the rest