The Orange Region’s cool climate credentials were on brilliant display at the recent Orange Wine Show. Chairman of Judges, the legendary Iain Riggs, oozed enthusiasm as he summed up the show to the local winemakers at the exhibitors tasting.
In relation to the riesling class, Iain said there were “a couple of cracking wines”, both of which turned out to be ours! The 2021 Colmar Estate Block 5 Riesling (coming soon) took out the trophy for best Riesling and, amazingly, the other gold medal went to the 2019 Colmar Estate Block 5 Riesling. Yes, both wines came off exactly the same block of vines on our estate.
Iain was enthusiastic about the future of riesling in the cool climate of Orange and the potential to explore new styles: “Once you have a riesling region – low pH, high acidity – you have a lot more freedom to work with that material. Don’t hold back …”.
Sparkling wines from highest, coolest vineyards in Orange have been gaining increasing recognition in recent years and Ian Riggs was excited: “The sparkling class … really impressed. It’s something that this region has taken on board as a wine style … Out in consumer land everyone just thinks Tassie … they should be thinking Tassie/Orange and nowhere else, for sparkling wines.” Three gold medals were awarded in the class.
No one was surprised that chardonnay also got the judges excited, with five gold medals being awarded across the two classes. The best wines were showing “better oak and less oak”, a consequence of a lighter touch from winemakers who are now allowing the glorious fruit from our region to shine though.
Iain noted the “terrific bracket” of three chardonnays spanning 10 vintages in the new Wines of Provenance class, which highlighted just how well Orange chardonnays age.
The pinot noir class was a highlight, with 16 out of 20 entries being awarded a medal, an unusually high strike rate. Iain said that he had tasted “some lovely pinots” and that Orange was “definitely a great region” for the variety. Of course, pinot is fussy and the best wines in this region are being made from grapes grown at elevations of 900-1000 metres above sea level.
At lower elevations in our region the standout red variety is shiraz and there were some beautiful wines entered into the show. Iain said it was “a strong class … a pleasure to judge”. I was torn between a lovely spicy shiraz from the cooler 2017 vintage and a riper, beautifully balanced wine from the warmer 2018 vintage.
Oh my, we are spoilt for choice in Orange.