Orange: NSW’s best wine region?

Orange: NSW’s best wine region?

Time to brag a bit.

Orange has really come of age over the last decade and is now laying claim to being New South Wales best wine region. A big call? Let’s take a look at the results of the 2023 NSW Wine Awards.

It came as no surprise that a wine from Orange took out the Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine, as it has done for the last six years in a row. No other region in NSW is coming close to the quality of sparkling wine produced in Orange and the best wines are standing tall nationally.

A local winery also took out the Trophy for Best Pinot Grigio/Gris. This variety can be a little neutral when grown in warm regions but it generates more intense flavour in Orange’s cool climate.

Not surprisingly, the Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc went to a wine made from fruit grown in Orange. This variety excels in cooler regions.

What about pinot noir? You guessed it, the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir went to Orange. Everyone will tell you how capricious pinot noir is and that it only delivers its magic when grown in the right place. Well, it seems that the right place in NSW is the higher, cooler vineyards in Orange.

The class for Best Other Red Wine Variety must be a difficult one to judge as many different red varieties are judged against one another. The trophy-winner was a beautiful cabernet franc from Orange. This variety may be better suited to our cool region than cabernet sauvignon as it ripens earlier.

Oh, the Trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon went to Orange too, so there goes that argument.

And so did the Trophy for Best Red Wine Blend, for an eclectic mix of shiraz and marsanne.

So many trophies. How does Orange do it? Needless to say, the high elevation of the vineyards is the key – all the region’s vineyards are over 600 metres above sea level. The resulting cool climate gives medium-bodied styles, bright flavours and crisp acids. Fresh deliciousness!

There was an amazing diversity in styles of the trophy-winning wines from Orange, the wines lying on a broad spectrum from sparkling to cabernet sauvignon. The explanation is the variation in altitude of the vineyards. At 600 metres elevation, the climate in Orange is better suited to red varieties. But the higher you go, the cooler it gets and white varieties and pinot noir come into their own. Close to the 1000 metre mark, it’s seriously cool and ideally suited to fruit for sparkling wines. Wow!

What will the next decade bring?