A Good Kind of Haze

Kevin Kelley's orange wine hits Los Angeles

We have swilled our fair share of orange wines over the past few years.

Examples from Sicily, Slovenia and Spain have all thrilled our palates, but our recent obsession comes from our own state's backyard: the 2010 Saffron Haze ($30 for 750 ml), a skin-fermented Pinot Gris-Sauvignon Blanc blend, made by Santa Rosa's Kevin Kelley, proprietor of Salinia and the Natural Process Alliance.

For the past six months, the wine was poured exclusively at Charles Phan's Wo Hing General Store in San Francisco. Now it's finally available in the Southland, at Domaine LA.

The wine wears a honeyed amber color, and with its viscous texture you might expect a Sauternes-like wine–until you take a sniff. The blood orange and clove aromas of Pinot Gris dominate Saffron Haze, but that skin-fermented Sauvignon Blanc mellows out what might otherwise be fairly stringent tannins. Left to breathe, the wine's savory side, leathery and tobacco-scented, begins to show.

Saffron Haze is an ideal match for most Asian foods, but its sleeper hit of a pairing is steak. The wine's tannin and vinous qualities play well off of the fat in a richer cut like a rib eye, while its acid and citrus notes are simpatico with salads and the grilling season's other accompaniments.