One of the most remarkable developments in Australian wine in the last decade has been the stunning rise in the quality of sparkling wines from the Orange Wine Region.
It’s hard to say exactly when the world of wine twigged to this but perhaps it was the 2021 Australian Sparkling Wine Show. The judges were ecstatic about the quality of the wines in Class 1, the premium class, stating “What a fabulous class to judge ... extraordinary freshness and vitality … congratulations to the producers who crafted such outstanding wines”.
They went on to award no less than seven gold medals. Four of these went to Tasmanian wines, which really came as no surprise to anyone as Tassie is regarded as the home of fine sparkling wine in Australia. The surprise came with the source of the other three gold medals – they all came from Orange. And, very pleasingly, one of those golds went to Colmar Estate (our 2015 Chardonnay-Pinot Noir).
How come? Why is Orange producing such outstanding sparkling wines?
Our climate is the key – our cool, continental climate.
The word continental may need some explanation. In viticulture there are two broad types of climate – maritime or close to the sea and continental or away from the sea. All other things being equal, wines from maritime climates tend to be fuller and softer whereas wines from continental climates tend to be finer and crisper with more natural acidity. All great sparkling wines start with fine, crisp base wines.
A cool climate is also essential. Tasmania gets its coolness from latitude whereas in Orange altitude is the key. The higher the vineyard, the cooler the site, the finer and more delicate the wine. So the high vineyards in Orange, some at elevations of 1000 metres above sea level, have the best of both words – cool and continental. And they are planted with the classic varieties for sparkling wine – chardonnay and pinot noir.
So all the ingredients are there for premium sparkling wines.
The results at the 2021 Australian Sparkling Wine Show were no flash in the pan. Glance at the results of the recent Sydney Royal Wine Show – the trophy for best sparkling wine went to a wine from Orange. Take a look at the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion for their verdict on the best sparkling white of the year – you guessed it – a wine from Orange.
Watch out Tassie! We’re coming to get ya! Check out our sparkling wines here.