Kosher Orange wines from California and Israel, QPR WINNERS

I made this a QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wine category and in many ways I regret it. What I did here was to create a situation where the only competition that exists is the next vintage! Essentially, if you want Orange wine or extended-maceration white wine, you want Yaacov Oryah wines. Not complicated at all. There are a few more out there and they are WINNERS, like the Shirah Orange Wine, and Binyamina Wines made one. Sadly, the Binyamina is sold out here in the USA, but the Shirah is for sale on their site and it is a WINNER! Get some! Kos Yeshuos made one, but in such tiny quantity that it was not for sale. Yaacov Oryah Orange wines are here in the USA and are sold by Andrew Breskin (AKA Liquid Kosher) – check them out!

I have spoken about Orange wine before, mostly when writing about Yaacov Oryah wines. Orange wine is simply the process of leaving white grapes to ferment on their skins, like red wine. To Mr. Oryah it is the truest expression of a white grape varietal and one that Israel can use now to create great white wines, while it searches for more data points on the path for Israel’s white varietals of the future.

The skins add more than just a bit of color, they add a huge amount of natural phenolics, along with tannin (yes tannin in white wine), and then it adds a few extracurricular notes, that some could find challenging. Notes that are defined as nuts and other aspects of reduction or oxidation. The point though is that orange (AKA extended-maceration white) wines are trying to expose more of the white wine than we get from the press and age/bottle style of white wines. Many of the orange wines show the proper and incredible next step beyond white wines we all know. The rich and layered complexity that skins add without some of the extracurricular notes. Some of the wines show those notes and many will find them wonderful, like myself, but in all, it is a show of control, experimentation, and more dots on the plot to a richer future.

When I tasted through the 2019 Yaacov Oryah wines I saw two things that were not as evident in previous vintages. First, the 2019 vintage, for Israel, was HORRIBLE! Yes, I have stated this over and over, but it affected everyone. Second, this was the best showing of a varietal, in regards to Orange wine, then I have ever had. The Viognier, was Viognier, even after the extended -maceration. Same with the Chardonnay and onwards.

Overall, I found the Orange wines to be quite enjoyable. I am posting the 2018 and 2019 vintages of Yaacov Oryah wines, along with the other two Orange wines I had this year. The issue I have revolves around the QPR part of this. There are essentially many Oryah wines and a few others, this is EXACTLY what I was trying to avoid, and now I ran head into it with Orange wines. I stated the logic around the QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wine categories as trying to find the grouping logic that gave me the largest sample set. Well, I FAILED horribly with this one. Also, the QPR scoring only works for the USA, Oryah wines are imported by Andrew Breskin’s Liquid Kosher. They are of course sold in Israel, but I do not have solid pricing there and that is too complicated. So, yeah, #FAIL, learned from this mistake. Going forward, this category will fall into the Ageable white wines (a post I need to get done as well) and the simple white wines.

PSA: This subject is very debated, but I find that Orange wines show best when cold. The heat on the wines shows as they warm to room temperature, so BEWARE!

The wine notes follow below – the explanation of my “scores” can be found here:

2018 Yaacov Oryah The Anthology of Spice, Alpha Omega – Score: 93 (QPR: WINNER)
This wine is a blend of 50% Gewurztraminer, 40% Chardonnay, and 10% Roussanne. The 50% Gewurztraminer found here is the fruit that I spoke about above, fruit that was going to be wasted for just being itself, heady and spicy. As an Homage of an Homage, yeah more play on play on words, the wine talks to the original AO of old, while also staking this epic spicy fruit to two sturdy partners that add so much, while letting the Gewurtztraminer by itself, without being offensive.
This is not a pineapple juice wine, this wine is more about the Gewurztraminer’s spice, with control, floral notes, blossoms galore, with rosehip, and jasmine-like notes, with apple, and earth. The mouth on this wine is beautifully tannic, great structure, showing a crazy fruit/spiced/mineral structure, with smoke, funk, with crazy layers upon layers of the spices, tannin, with rich extraction, with even more tannin structure than the previous wines, showing spice, nutmeg, cloves, crazy allspice, and floral notes, that give way to roasted herb notes, dry hay, straw, and green/yellow apple lingering long with melon, more grass, lemon, and spice galore lingering long. WOW!! Drink by 2025. (tasted May 2019)

2018 Yaacov Oryah Gewurtztraminer, Alpha Omega – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
This is not the same Gewurtztraminer found in the Anthology of spice. This is fun, this nose is a Rorschach experiment. The nose on this wine is lychee, rosehips, rose petals, melon, with hints of pineapple, smoke, funk, and rich spices galore. The mouth on this wine is crazy rose notes, layers upon layers of floral notes, spices, incredible tannin structure, with tangerine, orange peel, with more extraction, with even more spices than the Anthology of spice, showing rich unctuous fruit, crazy and intense spice, with incredible layers of spice, more yellow pear, and citrus, with sweet orange, and herb galore, with slate, mineral, graphite, and herb lingering long with an acid core. WOW! Drink by 2024. (tasted May 2019)

2018 Yaacov Oryah The First Anthology, Alpha Omega – Score: 92+ (QPR: WINNER)
The play on words here is slightly dependant upon the Hebrew Language, which is a large part of Mr. Oryah, of course. First Anthology in Hebrew is האסופה הראשונה, with Asif and Asufa being base in nature. The components of first skin macerated white blend, made in the אסיף winery, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc. This wine is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Viognier, and 20% Chenin Blanc. This wine is an homage to Yaacov’s first Orange blend at Asif.
The nose on this wine is a smoke and funk monster, with a lovely Viognier nose, showing honeysuckle, honeyed notes, with yellow apple, white pepper, and sweet herb. The mouth on this medium+ bodied wine is incredible, layered, rich, unctuous, and extracted, with crazy saline, acid, with sweet herb, elegant, and precise, wow, so well balanced with a nice tannin structure that gives way to pear, apple, and fruit structure that flows into lemongrass, and citrus. The finish is long, green, lime, limoncello, and foliage/garrigue. Lovely!!! Drink by 2024. (tasted May 2019)

2019 Yaacov Oryah Viognier, Alpha Omega – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
Ok, so the color and aromas here are very much in line with the Chenin Blanc and this is an obvious Viognier that happens to be Orange in nature. The nose on this wine is really fun, showing the best of Viognier, with loads of peach, more peach followed by apricot, orange, and hints of green tea and nice funk. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is fully in line with the nose, but even more, this is a wine that is perfectly balanced, not too much orange and not too much Viognier, with great control, Yaacov threaded the needle. The mouth on this wine is richly acidic, fresh, and lovely with a nice body, oily, and a real tannic punch, but also showing great control and lovely acidity, with peach, apricot, lemon, pink apple/quince, and heather, and rich green notes of roasted herb and spice. The finish is super long, well balanced, great structure, and loads of fun. Bravo! Drink until 2024. (tasted June 2020)

2018 Yaacov Oryah Chenin Blanc, Alpha Omega – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is incredible, showing funk, smoke, hay, flint, mineral, and loads of yellow apple, with sweet spice, and pear. To my mind, it shows what I dream of when I think of Chenin Blanc. The mouth on this medium+ bodied wine is lovely, layered, with mineral, more saline, orange, yellow pear, crazy hay, straw, with a rich and unctuous fruit structure, showing beautifully, with sweet tannin, acidity off the charts, smoke, orange peel, pith, and sweet notes of herb and basil, lingering long with yellow blossoms, saline, acid, and slate galore. Wow!! Drink by 2023. (tasted May 2019)

2018 Yaacov Oryah Chardonnay, Alpha Omega – Score: 92 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine shows green apple, zucchini, parsley, and mint, with spice, and more herb. The mouth on this medium-plus bodied wine is herbaceous, with mint, parsley, loam, earth, with more apple, quince, sweet white cherry, and white chocolate, with a lovely unctuous and layered mouthfeel, showing layers and complexity, with great saline, mad acidity, with intense minerality, slate, and flint, followed, by more herbs, and yellow pear. Bravo!! Drink by 2022. (tasted May 2019)

2018 Yaacov Oryah Viognier, Alpha Omega – Score: 91+ (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is lovely with peach, apricot, rhubarb, with no floral notes, and sweet spices, and white pepper. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, showing complexity, with layers of nuts, walnuts, spices, stone fruit, with crazy spices, nutmeg, sweet oak, and more pepper, and smoke, with flint, and slate. Lovely!!! Drink by 2022. (tasted May 2019)

2019 Shirah Orange Wine – Score: 91+ (QPR: WINNER)
This is a nice, fun, and unique wine, and with my new QPR scoring, it is less expensive than the median price for orange wines (not a large sample set there). Now comes the VERY interesting part, this wine is a drop behind the median for Orange wines, AKA, Oryah’s wines, HOWEVER, the criteria for WINNER is 91 score or higher and cheaper than the median – so we have a WINNER! I never thought I would see this day! I knew theoretically it could happen, AKA MATH, but it would have required an absurd number of better wines and yet be under the price median – Congrats Weiss Brothers!
Sorry, for that long QPR score dissertation, this is fun for me, bringing my real-life interest into my obsession with wine. The wine is a blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Albarino. PLEASE do not drink this wine at fridge temps, this needs either cellar temps (AKA 60 degrees Fahrenheit). This one is different than what I stated above. Once the wine’s temp is correct the alcohol shows and it is the wine’s sole Achilles heel, with lovely notes of dried peach, jackfruit, with lovely almonds, walnuts, and orange notes, with heat that throws things off a bit, and rosehip galore. The mouth on this wine is sexy, it is alluring, while also being a bit hot (though that part is not a compliment, I could not help myself). The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine shows the heat, but after that, the lovely acidity brings the mouth together, with loads of almonds, dried nuts, nice mouth pumping tannin, with lovely sweet Asian pear, some oxidation that shows as bruised fruit and varnish, but still a lovely wine with enough complexity and uniqueness that overcomes the heat to show what a lovely wine can be made in the Orange style. The finish is long, sweet, yet absurdly aromatic, with dried orange, backed by tart but dried mandarin oranges, with lovely nutty notes, with intense rose and jasmine tea, and lovely flint/rock. Bravo guys!! Drink by 2024. (tasted June 2020)

2019 Yaacov Oryah Gewürztraminer, Alpha Omega – Score: 91+ (QPR: WINNER)
This is the next level of Orange wine both in color and in aromas and flavors – this one is the real deal for 2019, so far. The nose on this wine is almost excessive, definitely redolent, with expressive and screaming aromas of rose, violet, chamomile, lavender, followed by lemon, melon, hints of tart, and pineapple, and cinnamon, with cloves, and sage. The mouth on this medium to full-bodied wine is epic, layered, expressive, rich, and aggressive, not as elegant as the Chenin Blanc, and crazy fun, with loads of tannin, intense spice, kind of spice, with loads of apple, melon, pineapple, orange marmalade, with a heap of richly spiced Etrog, and green apple. The finish is super long, almost too much, with so much spice, and richness, this is going to be a monster, with such floral notes that are almost squashed from the heady and aggressive tannin and spice. Drink from 2021 until 2024. (tasted June 2020)

2018 Binyamina Orange Roussanne – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
Sadly, this wine is sold-out, it was imported by kosherwine.com, and they ran out, still posting for data.
Let me start by saying I did not believe kosherwine.com, the bottle says white wine, and the wine color is clear, not golden or the such from other Orange wines. However, after tasting it, the wine is an Orange wine, it has that lovely oxidized and nutty notes. Thankfully, the wine is a TRUE winner and a GREAT QPR WINNER as well! Now on to the notes, which is good news!! Sadly, it is sold out here in the USA.
The nose on this wine screams Orange wine all the way and this wine is made from 100% Roussanne grapes which is a great variety to do Orange wine with! Please NOTE, that unlike other Orange wines this wine likes to be drunk ICE cold like a white or rose.
The nose on this wine is FUN, really fun, you can tell the brightness from a mile away, the nose shows classic notes of Orange wine with roasted nuts, almonds, walnuts, followed by a slight amount of oxidation, which I love, followed by lovely yellow flowers, yellow plum fruit, hints of mandarins, loads of mineral, saline, and honeysuckle. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is lovely, tart, acidic, with pith and slate, followed by a lovely oily and textured mouthfeel that gives way to orange notes, grapefruit, lovely freshness and refreshing feeling, followed by tannin, and just NOT enough complexity to get my attention, still fun as I said, with lemongrass, tart yet bruised apple, honeyed notes of apple and more nuts, with dried apple grapefruit rind, and more oxidation. The finish starts short and is hidden behind the acidity and tannin, with time it finishes, and a bit longer the wine fills out and shows its best. The finish ends with nutty notes, quince galore, floral notes, mineral, slate, and juniper. This is a fun wine, and while it may not last the length of an Oryah Orange, to me, this one will only last until 2022. Enjoy! Bravo!! (tasted June 2020)

2018 Yaacov Oryah Semillon, Alpha Omega – Score: 91 (for now) (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is smoky, funky, green, flinty, with orange notes, with crazy sweet spices, and dry apple, with orange peel, and lemongrass. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine has nice tannin but is backed by crazy acid, but it is too young, showing dry quince, Asian pear, with intense saline, lovely cloves, nutmeg, sweet baking spices, and loam, with tart nectarines, and green notes. I hope that the complexity will come with age, for now, I would let this lie. Lovely! Drink from 2020 until 2026. (tasted May 2019)

2018 Yaacov Oryah Roussanne, Alpha Omega – Score: 91 (QPR: WINNER)
The nose on this wine is funky and filled with blossoms, honeysuckle, and honeyed notes, showing nutmeg, smoke, with sweet notes of orange, and yellow fruit. The mouth on this wine is very different, with crazy saline, acid, followed by smoke, lemon, orange notes, and sweet herb. The finish is a bit short but lovely and the acidity lingers, with sweet notes of quince and yellow apple. (tasted May 2019)

2017 Yaacov Oryah Melchizedek, Alpha Omega – Score: 90+ (QPR: GOOD)
With so many of the new AO (Alpha Omega) wines, the name AO was undermined. To give proper respect to the AO blend of old, Mr. Oryah added an homage to the Melchizedek, the priest/king that blessed Abraham after the war with the 4 kings. He was a man that was just and a person who understands life, he served Abraham wine and bread, simple but to the point!
This wine is a blend of 40% Viognier, 34% Roussanne, and 26% Semillon. The nose on this wine is crazy, reduced, and special, with pure notes of nuts, walnuts, almonds, with flint, hay, straw, and smoke, followed by funk and earth. The mouth on this wine is round, balanced, with good acidity, sweeter than the others with orange notes, nectarines, Orangina, rose, and floral notes, and relaxed tannin. Nice. Drink by 2024. (tasted May 2019)

2019 Yaacov Oryah Chardonnay, Alpha Omega – Score: 90 (QPR: POOR)
This wine like the Roussanne started slowly, this needs time to come around, so either wait until 2021, at least, or decant this for a good few hours. The color of this wine is less orange than I would expect. The wine is slow to open, so be careful, to start this wine as it is. The nose on this wine is nice enough, showing no real funk, but with a bit of oxidation, showing green and yellow apple, green Matcha tea, pear, and some spice. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine now shows the funk and oxidation, but there is a huge hole in the middle to start, with lovely and bracing acidity, with not as much complexity as 2018, with nice tea, apple again, with smoke, loam, green notes, and earth. The finish is long, pear/apple, a drop of dry melon, and ginger and quince, with a dash of nutmeg. 
Once it fully opens it improves – this the real notes. Note the wine did not change drastically, in regards to the notes, what changed was the wine came alive! It was so closed and lifeless, now it is screaming with acid, funk, and expressiveness. The nose on this wine screams Chardonnay, creamy, rich, and apple-licious, with ripe melon, pear, nice oxidation, and slight funk, showing green and yellow apple, green Matcha tea, really nice spice. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine now shows the funk and oxidation, the hole is long gone and the wine now has layers and elegance, showing almonds and walnuts from the oxidation, but now that wraps the fresh brioche and quince pie, with lovely and bracing acidity, with nice tea, apple again, with smoke, loam, green notes, and earth. The finish is long, pear/apple, a drop of dry melon, and ginger and quince, with a dash of nutmeg. Nice!! Drink from 2021 until 2024. (tasted June 2020)

2019 Yaacov Oryah Chenin Blanc, Alpha Omega – Score: 90 (QPR: POOR)
The nose on this wine more classic in regards to an Orange wine, it has the classic funk, oxidation, loads of spice, with lovely chamomile, waxy notes, with loads of ginger, followed by apple, quince, menthol, roasted herb, and nectarines. The mouth on this wine is vastly different, and far more akin to what I expect from Yaacov Oryah skin-macerated wine, with a lovely body, almost oily texture, with clear waxy notes, followed by dried yellow plum, tart quince, with more of the style of orange with layers of funk, complexity, waxy and weighty notes, followed by an expression of joy, rosehip, and floral notes galore. The finish is long, floral, with quince, tart pear, and more spices, with cinnamon, allspice, and tarragon, and more tea. Drink from 2021 until 2024. (tasted June 2020)

2019 Yaacov Oryah Roussanne, Alpha Omega – Score: 90 (QPR: POOR)
This one is even more pushed in regards to aromas and the color is barely lighter than the Gerwurtztraminer. When we opened this bottle it smelled like horse poop wrapped in horseradish. That reduction was out of control. That blew off, so do not be afraid. Still, it took a FULL day or more for this wine to come around, I would not recommend the same thing as I did with the Chardonnay, about waiting a year. With this much reduction, I am not sure what this wine will become in a year or more. I would decant and enjoy it by 2022. Again these are the notes from when we opened it:
This may have been an off bottle, but this wine is all over the place, the nose does not smell very off, but it is oxidized, and while I am fine with a bit of that, like the Gewurtz, this one is too far, with rubber and medicinal aromas, followed by pretty rosehip, with apple, preserved lemon, and lavender. The mouth is better than the nose, with a nice attack of tannin and spices, but the alcohol is high and the heat shows, followed by some dry fruit, nice tannin, and that is about it, really going nowhere. These are the notes from the next day:
The nose on this wine is now fully integrated and what I expect, still I would decant this and enjoy it in the next year or so, the reduction is a reduction, and the wine can only, again IMHO, handle so much. The nose starts with lovely funk, earth, and crazy floral notes of yellow and white flowers, followed by rich nuts, dried melon, apple, and candied apricot. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine shows a lovely attack of tannin, lovely acid, and funk, followed by rich salinity, mineral, and straw, with honey, honeysuckle, candied apricot, chamomile, and preserved lemon, and dried quince, with slate, mineral, tannin, and funk lingering long. Drink until 2022. (tasted June 2020)

2019 Yaacov Oryah Semillon, Alpha Omega – Score: 90 (QPR: POOR)
The nose and color on this wine are more than the Chardonnay but not much more. The nose on this wine starts with hot peppers, really green, with loads foliage, menthol, no funk, very little in regards to oxidation, but nice floral notes, rosehip, vanilla, and crackers, and not much else. The mouth on this wine is really fun, not at all akin to the nose, with a lovely attack of foliage, loads of lemon Fraiche, creamy notes, followed by lovely citrus and Citroen attack, parsley, celery, and lovely fruit and acid focus. The finish is long, green, earthy, and spicy, with smoke, and loads of acidity, and spice, nutmeg. Drink until 2024. (tasted June 2020)

2019 Yaacov Oryah Anthology of Spice, Alpha Omega – Score: 89 (QPR: BAD)
This wine is a blend of 55% Gewurtztraminer, 25% Viognier, 15% Chardonnay, and 5% Roussanne. The nose on this wine is nice, with clear spicy notes of Gewurztraminer tempered by the other varietals, with allspice, cloves, sweet cinnamon, crazy incense of rose, ginger, peach, and apricot. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is nice but it is still not close to the incredible 2018 vintage, it lacks that acidic punch, has a slight hole, and is not pulling me in, still, it is a fun wine and one that has a nice tannin structure, sadly, it lacks the complexity to make it work. The finish is a bit short, with more fruit, lovely spice, tannin, floral notes, and graphite. Drink by 2023. (tasted Oct 2020)

2019 Yaacov Oryah The First Anthology, Alpha Omega – Score: 86 (QPR: BAD)
This wine is a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Chenin Blanc, and 10% Roussanne. Sadly, this wine is muted and it lacks the crazy acidity of the 2018 vintage, yes I know 2019 SUCKS in Israel, and even the great Yaacov Oryah could not save the vintage. The nose on this wine is muted, feeling jumbled, with thoughts but no real direction or focus, showing yellow pear, yellow plum, earth, nuts, oxidation, and smoke. The mouth on this medium-bodied wine is more oxidized than any of the previous Oryah Orange wines and it throws me, with oxidized and nutty notes of orange, apricot, pear, and apple, with peach and smoke, nice tannin, but nothing that makes me happy. The finish is long, oxidized, and sweet, yet tart. Again, no real focus here. Sad. Drink by 2023 if u must. (tasted Oct 2020)

Posted on December 30, 2020, in Kosher Orange Wine, Wine and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think Dani Friedenbergs new Ramato can also qualify as a orange wine.

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