Chef Michael Voltaggio has long placed an emphasis on wine at his restaurant ink., and the wine list there has always veered towards the esoteric. It's probably no surprise then, than when he got the chance to make his own wine, he opted to make an orange wine.
Voltaggio's wine project came about via Club W, a wine club and retail website. Club W has launched a program called W Collaborations, in which they pair a winemaker with an artist of some kind, in order to “use wine as a platform for creative collaboration.” Voltaggio's wine, made with winemaker Chris Pittenger, is the inaugural wine in the series. It's called Rust, and is an orange grenache blanc.
Orange wine is made by taking white wine grape varieties and allowing them to spend some maceration time in contact with the grape skins. It's gained huge traction in recent years with the type of wine nerds who love anything slightly strange. But it also pairs incredibly well with food, the tannins achieved from skin maceration giving it heft and body, but without the overpowering qualities of many red wines. That food-friendliness has made it a favorite among chefs. “I'm obsessed with orange wine,” Voltaggio says. “It has me drinking less scotch these days.”
The wine Voltaggio and Pittenger have created definitely falls into the wheelhouse of the natural wine movement. It has all of the funkiness of an orange wine when you smell it in the glass, but when you taste it, it's actually quite subtle, and has a crisp, stoney finish. It could go as well on its own as with dinner, and is great for people looking to try orange wine for the first time.
Only two barrels of Rust were made, so it's not an easy wine to come by. It has been available on and off on the Club W website for $32. But you can try it at ink., where it's sold for $15 a glass or $60 a bottle. Voltaggio has even created some dishes specifically to pair with the wine, including potato polenta with bone marrow, sour cream and chive.