Onward winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster makes three versions of Malvasia from the Capp Inn Ranch: a still wine, a pét nat, and this skin-contact edition. Unlike many so-called orange wines, this one is not oxidative. Instead, the grapes were fermented cool with ambient yeast, punched down as needed over three weeks to keep the fermentation rolling, and fermented fully to dryness on skins. The wine was then moved off its must into neutral oak barrels, where lees stirring added texture.
The result is deep gold and slightly cloudy, like a well-loved ring. Its aromatics are subtle but tropical, suggesting mango and passion fruit, but there’s also a drifting lilt of wet autumn leaves. The mood switches on the palate, which starts as burnished pome fruits—quince, Asian pear—but settles into a savory brew of ginger and green tea. The acidity is modest but the wine earns substance and texture from its skin and lees experience. Imagine eating a ripe Bosc pear: it’s tannic and sweet, watery and gritty, juicy and chewy, and subtle. This wine’s a bit like that.
Don’t serve it too cold; 55°F seems about right. Food pairings that are savory but also light will work: roasted poultry, grilled meaty fish, vegetable terrines and lighter pâtés (poultry, not pork). Aged cheeses, especially the cooked, pressed cheeses, will work. Avoid foods with strident acidity, including young lactic cheeses and salad, which will swamp the wine’s delicate acid armature. Or just drink it with yeasty bread slathered with good butter, and thank your stars you can.