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Sept 2019

Satellite Wine Club, September 2019

2018 Lo-Fi - Skin Contact Sauvignon Blanc - Coquelicot Vineyard - Santa Ynez, CA

2018 Keltis - ‘Žan’ Skin Contact Blend - Bizeljsko, SI


This month is a first. It’s the first time I’ve had the luck to find just the right orange wines for your favorite club. It was a 26 month adventure but at last, sweet wine adventure buddy, we have done it! 

I am so stoked to share with you these two wines, fresh out-the vat, bottled in clear glass to show off all the interesting cloud and color! This is Orange Wine, Skin Contact Wine, Skin Macerated White Wine! Jugo de Nanja, one might say. 

So what the hell is this skin contact wine? Let me tell you my favorite analogy, you’ll here it in the shop all the time. ‘If Rosé is a red wine made like a white wine (with limited skin contact during fermentation) then an orange wine is a white wine made like a red wine!’. Orange wines get to hang out with their grape skins for part, all, or even beyond their fermentation! It’s a party and all the birthday suits are here.

While Orange Wine is closely associated with today’s natural wine movement, it is by no means a ‘new’ style… in fact: the world’s first wines were likely skin contact wines! Think about it, all wine needs to become wine is a vessel, the right temperature, and someone to break the skins so the juice and ambient yeast can do their thing! Some poor mesopotamian out harvesting grapes and squishing them into a clay jar is a likely candidate for first winemaker, and the wine was likely orange… and likely not very delicious. Wineries in Georgia have revered and perfected the skin contact wine game for some 8000+ years! The Hungarians have been making their Aszu and incredibly rare/important eszenzia sweet wines this way for at least five hundred years! It’s their jam. It’s my jam. I hope it’s your jam too! 

So how do we get to orange wine, how do we make it, what’s it like? Well it’s a spectrum! So much of the texture, color, and flavor of the wine depends on two factors: time with skins and type of vessel. Traditionally you’ll see these wines fermented in clay vessels like amphora, qvevri, dolia, or tinajas, either above or buried in the ground. These traditional hand-formed vessels are incredible for moderating temperature fluxuations which can halt a natural fermentation and they also benefit the textural properties of an orange wine, smoothing and rounding the tannins which the skins leave behind in the wine. Clay is not the only thing, however, you’ll see a lot of concrete which, too, offers similar benefits, but stainless steel, oak, and even plastic or fiberglass fermenters all offer something, but tend not to tame the tannins of long-aged oranges quite so much. Fortunately for us, I’ve got us some exuberant wines without ‘expert level’ skin contact and they should be plenty approachable even for the beginning palate. 

Time with the skins is hugely important to these wines, perhaps more than anything else. Whether it’s simply a cold soak before fermentation to give intrigue to a light white, or two weeks (in the case of our Lo-Fi Sauvignon Blanc) for a bit more weight, color, and flavor, or even a year or more in the case of some truly amazing wines from producers in Georgia or, one of my faves, Domaine du Tue Bouef in France’s Loire Valley. Something amazing happens between the juice, skins, and vessel over the course of aging. Sometimes, depending on the mix, the wine will feel impossibly tannic, turning the tongue and gums into a desert island like a tea long forgotten and over-steeped, while other extremely long aged versions will be more smooth, rounded and fat. A scientific explanation eludes me thus far, but my search continues and I enjoy learning with every new wine!

My goal this month is to introduce you to skin contact. Not crazy, off the rails, expert level, and sometimes even socially divisive orange wines, but ones that are brilliant and bright, which satisfy and yet invite you back for more. These wines are inherently alive, with minimal manipulation and maximal care to protect them. These wines from Slovenia: a hold-fast of the orange wine style, and from Santa Barbara: the hottest new kid on the block; and both totally rock. 

Join me in celebrating sunshine held together by water… that’s really all wine is. This month there’s just a little more sunshine! 

Yo quiero mi jugo de naranja, frío como hielo por favor!

2018 Lo-Fi - Skin Contact Sauvignon Blanc - Coquelicot Vineyard - Santa Ynez, CA

You had better know Lo-Fi! Mike Roth and Craig Winchester are the heart and the soul of natural winemaking in Santa Barbara County. The OG nature enthusiasts, these guys have been brining naturally fermented, low manipulation wines to our glasses since 2014. Yes, that’s hardly a long history but darn it, that’s what we have here in Santa Barbara! That’s how young and boisterous we are! You, Me, and the whole Satellite Wine Club are discovering natural wine in SB as it is happening. What’s cooler than that?

Mike and Craig have a beautiful little tasting room now open up in Los Alamos. I highly recommend going in to drink and chat, and to play records from their amazing collections of classic funk, folk, and rock. The vibe is groovy, the wines are eminently quaffable, and I just love it. The space reflects the wines, as do the winemakers. It’s all too cool. 

So what’s up with this wine? Well firstly it comes from the Coquelicot Vineyard, with whom Mike Roth makes all their estate wines, and where so many great producers in SB buy organic certified fruit. If you haven’t tried the Coquelicot Sauvignon Blanc by Lady of the Sunshine you need to! We’ve featured Cabernet Franc by Lo-Fi from this vineyard in the past and it is just amazing (I shared a magnum just this weekend!). 

The fruit is harvested early in the season, fully destemmed, then crushed and left to ferment with it’s own yeast for 2 weeks in concrete egg (so fun). These concrete eggs exploit natural convection currents to keep the skins in constant suspension making for more intense flavors and a more complete wine…. In my opinion. After 2 weeks the wine is pressed off the skins and re-enters the egg for another 9 months to fully form its elegant brand of sexiness. Only 144 cases were produced and we took 7 of them! 

The wine is all grapefruits on the the nose, think breakfast grapefruit halves with brown sugar cooked in. I am suggesting this is a breakfast wine and I am 100% confident in that suggestion. The wine is super cloudy in sort of a “what’s going on in there… is it making its own light?” kinda way. I love looking at it. Like murky liquid radiance. 

On the palate the wine is tart and fruity, with a typical sauvignon blanc profile, a bit softened and rounded by all the suspended particles. The wine has serious staying power on the tongue and continues to unfold it’s cool fresh fruits as time passes. It is yummy! A hint of tannin, a bit more body, and a… a magical something more. That’s the gift of skin fermentation for white grapes. It’s EXTRA!

While I will sing the praises of Lo-Fi across the board I am most excited about this new wine. It’s an entirely new addition to their lineup and one which I am just over the moon about. The wine is great and I recommend it for all occasions… especially breakfast!

2018 Keltis - ‘Žan’ Skin Contact Blend - Bizeljsko, SI


Get in -- We’re going to Slovenia and we’re drinking Keltis when we get there. Keltis is a small family winery occupying just 5 hectares of organically farmed land in Bizeljsko, Slovenia, very close to its eastern border with Croatia. This is historic wine land with a deep tradition of winemaking extending back to the Celts and the Illyrians predating the Romans by hundreds and possibly thousands of years. 

While wine wasn’t really a hot industry during the communist and cooperative farming initiatives of the Soviet-Allied Yugoslav Republic, things have really started popping here recently thanks to the creativity and excitement of vignerons like Marijan Kelhar and his sons Luka and Miha, who now run the estate. 

This winery is built upon marl soils, a perfect crumbly soil composed of limestone and clay which both hold water and allows it to drain freely. The clay also brings a balance of nutrients to the vine which limestone cannot. It’s a perfect soil for the local Rumeni Plavac, and is enjoyed equally by the limestone loving Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in this wine (yes, there are red grapes at this party too!)

The winery here at Keltis is dug deep into the earth with at least 10 feet of soil overhead. It’s a cold and constant temperature allowing for long, slow, deliberate fermentations using only native yeast. It is also brilliant for aging the wines, quietly and happily. 

So what’s the deal with this adorably labelled, delightfully colored, orange treat from heaven (Slovenia)? Well here are your stats: Grapes: Rumeni Plavec, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Muscat. Farming: Organic. Fermentation/Maceration: 7 day maceration of Riesling, 4 day maceration of Muscat, direct press of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Rumeni Plavec. Aging: In old neutral barrels. Winemaking/Additions: No Fining/No Filtering/No SO2. 

When I say orange wine with training wheels, I want you to think of this wine. It is so welcoming, so lovely, so real. From the color: a sort of apricot toned orange with a light haze, to the Nose: an equally apricot toned scent with a subtle florality and hint of dustiness. The wine hits the palate lithe and lean with creeping tannins and a great rush of refreshing acidity and flavor intensity. Apricot: ✓, Blossoms: ✓, Minerality: ✓, Complex, Tannins: ✓ , Layered secondary and tertiary notes of sandalwood, exotic fruit, and perfume: ✓. The wine keeps hitting across the board. Each sip is a new angle, a fresh look at this complex blend of fruit, floral, and adventure.

I loved this wine when I tasted it. I love the approach. I love the label. It’s all I want from an orange wine: No rules, just natural tastiness ☻

I love you, and you, and you too.  


Este jugo es naranja

Este vino es naranja

Creo que este vino es jugo

Lo que sea

Lo tomaré para el desayuno, el almuerzo y la cena.

September is Orange at Satellite

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