Amphorae and skin-contact wines are the buzzwords of the moment.
But what does it all mean?
The amphora process is ancient, originating in Georgia over four thousand years ago,and still practised today, using clay pots lined with beeswax for fermentation and storage. In theory, allowing fermentation on skins develops further complexity in the finished wines. The colour and tannin of red wines comes from skin contact, but with white wines, skin contact adds texture and a phenolic aspect, and can show an amber hue.
We are also making a nero d'avola in amphora, and are looking to make more amphora reds in coming years. In amphora, reds soften out, with the tannins becoming more integrated, and the fruit showing more forward, with a brighter aromatic character. Acids and tannins both become softer, and produce a rounder, more integrated wine style.
These wines can be quite divisive. The texture is often unexpected, and the aromatics of the wines show often very tropical and rich. Matching the wines with foods can be difficult.
At Dell'uva, Wayne is making a handful of wines using wild ferment, and fermenting in amphorae. The beeswax seal keeps the wines clean through fermentation, and the wine-making process is minutely controlled. He keeps the phenolic compounds relatively soft, with the finished wines showing intense aromatics and vibrant fruits, with a hint of texture and spice.