If you want to start an argument, just ask a group of local winemakers what the best wines of the Orange Region are. Vineyards in our region are planted at different altitudes so growing conditions vary a lot. Consequently, many different grape varieties do well, but what’s the best?
In an attempt to be objective let’s draw on those varieties and wine styles from Orange that have excelled at the New South Wales Wine Awards in recent years.
Sparkling wines from Orange have taken out the trophy for best sparkling wine at the NSW Wine Awards for the last four years in a row. And sparkling wines from this region are now making a splash on the national stage too, recently at the Sydney Royal Wine Show. And in the latest Halliday Wine Companion the ‘Sparkling White of the Year’ award went to a wine from Orange. Stunning sparkling wines!
Riesling is a bright star in the Orange galaxy. In five out of the last seven years the trophy for best riesling at the NSW Wine Awards has been awarded to a wine from the Orange Region. As riesling’s home is in the cool climes of Germany it should come as no surprise that it excels in the high, cool vineyards of Orange.
Pinot noir is blossoming in this region. Pinots from Orange have collected the trophy for the best pinot noir at the NSW Wine Awards for the last three years in a row. No surprises there! This red grape is renowned for being fussy but when it finds a cool-but-sunny niche like the higher vineyards in Orange the results can be spectacular.
That’s right, malbec. No, I’m not joking and yes people will argue, but the results don’t lie. There may not be much malbec planted in Orange and, yes, there is only one producer consistently making red wines from malbec. But when the judges at the NSW Wine Awards determine the best ‘other red variety’ (that is, not the mainstream red varieties) they have chosen a malbec from Orange on four out of the last seven shows. Maybe there’s a message there for the future.
OK, the chardonnays from Orange are also wonderful – fine, elegant wines. And yes, the shiraz can be excellent too in a spicy, cool climate style. And yes, yes, the Italian varietals are doing very well in the lower altitudes. I told you there would be arguments!