An inspiring orange wine from Australian biodynamically farmed grapes pairs with late night Korean bar snacks.
A Chance Meeting in Australia
Somos means "we are" in Spanish and refers to the duo, Ben Caldwell and Mauricio Ruiz Cantu, behind the Australian wine label of the same name.
They started making wine together in 2013 after meeting at the University of Adelaide to study oeonology. They both arrived there after starting down different career paths.
Caldwell studied Computer Programming and Chemistry at Melbourne University. After deciding he didn't really care for either, he ended up in fine dining which led to work at Wild Duck Creek Estate winery and then to the pursuit of oenology.
Likewise, Ruiz Cantu studied systems engineering in Mexico and happened to work a vintage at Casa Madero Winery. That experience led him to study oenology in Australia where he met Caldwell.
The two quickly became friends. Nearing graduation in 2012, they decided to make wine that focused on the Mexican market and registered a company. (And this all happened during one fateful night of heavy drinking!)
A Wild Success in Mexico!
Their first venture, Jugette (the Spanish word for "toy), aimed to make Australian wine to pair with Mexican food and the Mexican palate.
As Caldwell told the Financial Review, "Juguette is traditional Australian wine tailored to Mexico – nice, soft, approachable reds that match well with the cuisine,"
Begun in 2013 with 1,200 litres of Shiraz, Jugette became a wild success. They're now up to 130,000 litres of wine sold in more than 100 outlets in Mexico. They've also crossed revenue of over $1.8 million Australian dollars.
Some of those litres of wine include the second brand they launched, Somos.
Somos - Minimal Intervention, Single Vineyard Wines
Somos is meant to be the complete opposite of their first wine label Jugette.
Instead of mass market wines, Somos focuses on alternative and contemporary wines sourced from sustainably managed vineyards in the McLaren Vale wine region of South Australia.
The wines are exported to South and Central America and a sprinkling of stores in Australia and the US.
I found a bottle of their "Naranjito" wine made from biodynamically farmed verdehlo grapes. Naranjito means little orange in Spanish and refers to the skin contact style of this wine.
Inspired by the late night drinking session that gave birth to the company, I decided to try the wine with some midnight Korean bar snacks typically eaten after a night a heavy drinking.
Wine Pairing Menu
2021 Somos "Naranjito" Verdehlo
100% Verdehlo, 12.9% ABV, $30
Biodynamically Farmed grapes, picked twice in the season, one early and one late for riper grapes
50% pressed to old oak for 1 month; 50% sealed with the skins for 180 days
Visual: orange creamiscle popsicles, peachy orange
Aroma: tangerine peel, ginger, brioche, poached pear
Taste: mmmmm, just a little ginger spice, toasted walnuts, nectarine, touch of tannic oomph, soft and full bodied. Not a sour bomb. Nicely, carefully made wine with nuanced flavors
Pairing: Really nice with the kimchi and seaweed in the fried rice; makes the wine more melon-y.
The corn cheese does the opposite of what I want and heightens the acidity and sour orange notes.
The wine works some serious magic with those green onion pancakes. Reaching whole new savory depths with that soy dipping sauce. Considering the dish is vegan and didn't look that great because I tried it with whole wheat flour, I just couldn't stop myself from dipping and sipping these pancakes and wine, while ignoring the other two dishes. Soy sauce for the win!
The Last Drop
I had recently drunk a couple orange wines from some new New World labels that felt like biting into a lemon. I had so much skepticism about this wine and braced my palate for the oncoming sour slaughter, but it joyfully never arrived. This wine sang, and I would happily drink it with or without food.
To learn more about the white wines of Australia, check out these posts from the World Wine Travel writers:
- Jeff with Food Wine Click! is sharing “Why Does WSET Love Hunter Valley Semillon?“
- Wendy with A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Yellow Tail Wine Round 2 and the Weekly Menu“
- Terri of Our Good Life shares “Simply Summer’s Best: BBQ Pork Steaks and Rock It Like a Redhead Sauvignon Blanc“
- Nicole at Somm’s Table shares “Tyrrell’s Hunter Valley Semillon and Seared Salmon Steaks“
- Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator shares “Burning Man 2022: Waking Dreams, Secretly Abandoned Spaces, Minstrel Cramp, and the Fox in the Henhouse“
- Cam of Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “A Sémillon from New South Wales + A Snack from Japan”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Semillons from New South Wales Australia – comparing the young and the old”