In the past decade, skin contact white wine, or amber wine / white wine with maceration, has gained increasing attention by media, sommeliers and wine lovers. In November 2020, the prestigious International Organisation for Vine and Wine (OIV) added an 8th category to their official list of wine styles: white wine with maceration.
HK IWSC Skin Contact White Wine Category is a celebration of this global trend, and a recognition for winemakers who embrace this traditional winemaking technique and promote the wines to the world.
What is Skin Contact White Wine?
The term skin-contact wine refers to white wines that are fermented briefly – or entirely – with their grape skins hovering in the juice. Though the term is typically applied only to white wines, in truth, red and rosé wines are also skin-contact wines. The concept of skin-contact wines is ancient, but the terms used to describe the process are relatively new and include: skin-fermented wine, skin-maceration wines, orange wines, white wines with maceration, amber wines and a few more.
Like tea leaves in a teapot, the longer the grape skins rest with the juice, the deeper the colour, the more concentrated the flavour and the more tannic the texture of the final wine. A white wine's period of skin contact runs the gamut and depends upon the winemaker’s philosophy. For example, during Georgian traditional winemaking, grape skins mingle with the juice throughout fermentation and linger afterwards for 3-6 months. The period of contact between the juice, skins and seeds during maceration has a significant impact on the composition and sensory characters of the resulting wine.
Amber Wine Around the World
Georgia’s amber wines have influenced winemakers around the world, especially within natural wine community. We can now see more and more skin contact wines from almost every winemaking countries, such as Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Slovenia, Australia, South Africa, USA and Canada.
Definition by OIV
Below definition is quoted from OIV - International Organisation for Vine and Wine. It can be regarded as the official definition of the category for winemakers' reference, before submitting their wines to the competition.
White wine derived from alcoholic fermentation of a must with prolonged contact with grape pomace, including skins, pulp, seeds and eventually stems.
- Winemaking is conducted exclusively using white grapes varieties;
- the maceration is carried out in contact with grape pomace;
- the minimum duration of the maceration phase is 1 month;
- “White wine with maceration” can be characterised by an orange-amber colour and a tannic taste.
Why Should Wineries Participate in the Skin Contact Wine Wine Category?
Participating in the HK IWSC can provide wineries with valuable exposure to media and sommeliers in Asia. Winning the award or even being a trophy winner can help raise awareness of a winery's skin contact white wine offerings and attract new customers.
When wines are categorised into skin contact white wine category, experts in the area will be able to provide unbiased judgement to the wines. Wineries can use the feedbacks to refine their production techniques to make wines suitable for Asian palate.
- “Winning a silver medal in the HKIWSC has truly helped my product to achieve international credibility regarding its taste. This has positively affected
decisionmaking of several new merchants who now carry my product.”Kaustav BagchiOwner, Lamai Thai Spirits
- “Louis Royer Cognac has been entering the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition for many years. This competition is regarded as the most respected in Asian countries. Winning an award is a high honour for our brand and a further seal of quality for our multi-award winning Cognac.”Carol FrugierMarketing and Communications Manager, Louis Royer Cognac
- “Adding to our success over the past few years at the HKIWSC, winning a trophy means so much to us as we have just recently entered the Chinese market with our brandies. The Chinese market is unique, which makes it even more exciting to know that Oude Molen VOV Brandy is well accepted.”Kobus GelderblomBrandy Master, Oude Molen Distillery
- “It is a great honour for us to receive this award and we are very thankful about the reputation from wine enthusiasts in China. This award is a testament to the fact that our white wines not only match the traditional Austrian food but also matches perfectly with the Asian cuisine.”Katja PflogschWinemaker, Domäne Wachau
- “To get recognition from such a prestigious panel is
veyrewarding indeed, and proves that our wines are made in a style that is truly food friendly. The HKIWSC has become one of the year’s most well-respected wine competitions globally. For us, the food match component is a fantastic chance to demonstrate how well our wines compliment so many different flavours. Moreover, it is a competition known and valued by our customers so a trophy can be hugely influential.””Susanna MayerWinemaker, Yealings
- “Awards and medals at the HKIWSC have been like a stamp of approval to the quality of our wines. Because it is an Asian-focused competition, I know that my wines are being judged and measured by the same yardstick as all the other wines, given our viticultural conditions are quite unique compared with the rest of the world. These medals give me and, more importantly, my consumers the confidence that my wines stand apart from the competition.”Kalash GurnaniWinemaker, York Winery
- “We are very proud of our results. One of our key focuses is the Asian market, so we really want to make our wines special and desirable for this market. That’s why we want to enter this competition and be evaluated by the expert judging panel.”Sofia Cajewski Winemaker, Cremaschi Furlotti
- “We at Yealands Estate Wines are proud to be
recognizedby the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition. The organizationis held in the highest regard and our success in the competitions has become a strong voice for our quality around the globe.”Avram DeitchGlobal Marketing Manager, Yealands Wine Group
- “Winning awards in reputable international wine shows such as the Cathay Pacific HKIWSC is one of the many ways of educating our consumers and giving them confidence in purchasing the Saint Clair brand. This enhances brand perception
increases sales across our entire portfolio of wines.”Maria EastonWinemaker, Saint Clair Family Estate anin turn