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An Intro to ‘Orange’ Wine

A recent obsession of hip sommeliers and natural wine aficionados is the category of “orange” wines — white wines made the way red wines are, by letting the crushed juice sit on the grape skins for a period of time to pick up tannin, weight and extra flavors. The appealing and unusual 2007 Movia Lunar Ribolla Gialla, with the rich, full texture of a red and the citrusy vitality of a white, is a good introduction.

It shone at the end of a long dinner and a lineup of fascinating wines at Hong Kong’s Crown Wine Cellars, a wine storage facility in underground World War II bunkers with a private members clubhouse.

Don’t expect a whistle-clean, zingy white. The color of the Movia Lunar is a slightly cloudy soft orange and the flavors are a deep complex blend of minerals, dried pear, fresh peach and cardamom. The aroma reminds me a bit of honey, a bit of orange blossoms mixed with nectarine. The wine gives a sensation of luminous aliveness that’s hard to describe.

Movia’s winery is in Slovenia, with its vineyards straddling the border of that country and Italy’s Fruili region. Though founded back in 1820, it’s at the cutting edge of winemaking today thanks to its winemaker Ales Kristancic, a former champion ballroom dancer, a fierce proponent of biodynamic viticulture and a constant experimenter.

This wine, first produced in 2005, is made from indigenous grape Ribolla Gialla. It’s Kristancic’s attempt to make a wine with completely natural vinification, as much as possible without the touch of human hands after harvest. Unpressed clusters of grapes go directly into custom-made barriques, where the liquid ferments, ages and stablizes without intervention. After seven months, the free-flowing wine is drawn off and bottled without filtering when there’s a full moon. Since there’s sediment in the bottle, it’s best to decant before drinking. Serve it at room temperature, not chilled.

The Movia Lunar will surprise you. It’s another idea of wine, a challenging one too, but well worth trying.

Zester Daily contributor Elin McCoy is a wine and spirits columnist and author of “The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.”