Taronja – an orange wine from Roussillon
Taronja is a joint project between Jean- Marc Lafage of Domaine Lafage, outside Perpignan, and Justin Howard-Sneyd MW of Domaine of the Bee. Justin has vineyards, but no cellar, and so he makes his wine chez Lafage. And in 2017 they had the idea of producing an orange wine. Taronja, which means orange in Catalan, comes mainly from Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc, with a little Muscat and even less Viognier. In 2018 there were four barrel fermentations, two with whole bunches, one carbonic maceration and one with destemmed grapes. The fermentation took place in open top 500 litres barrels and then the juice was left to macerate on the skins and stalks for two weeks after afterwards. The wine was protected from oxidation with dry ice and then aged in neutral barriques for eight months. There was a light filtration, but no fining before bottling.
Thanks to bottles arriving from Jean-Marc in Roussillon and Bibendum in London, I was able to compare the 2018 and the 2019 vintages. They made an intriguing comparison.
2019 : The colour was a light pink, with the colour coming from the Grenache Gris which turns slightly pink as it ripens. The nose was fresh and rounded, and on the palate there were hints of the peachiness of the Viognier and the perfume of Muscat. There was a youthful freshness, balanced by some dry tannins, and some pithy fruit with a refreshing finish. 14°
2018 : More orange pink in colour, with a firmer, dryer nose and a firm but fresh palate, with some tannic notes. The wine had lost the youthful peachy notes of the 2019 and developed more complexity and other nuances. It was an appealing combination of freshness and fruit, with some elegant tannins. And it proved its versatility, by answering the conundrum of what to drink with a pasta sauce with egg and home-grown asparagus, two notoriously difficult things to accompany any wine. Taranja simply came up trumps!