The emerging Orange wine district in the Central Ranges of New South Wales has developed quite a name for itself as a producer of whites like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, but it seems that there’s hope for the region as an able producer of reds, if my recent Angullong experience is any guide.
The Orange region is somewhat unusual by Australian standards. It’s the only Geographical Indication (GI) in the country which is defined by elevation.
The area might be named after the largest local town but is defined by the 600 metre contour line – to fall within the Indication, the vineyards must be above the 600 metre mark and be within the City of Orange, Blayney Shire or Cabonne Shire. And it’s not a wine district that is easily accessible to oenological tourists as to get there you’ll have to drive over 250 km to the west of Sydney or even further if you head from the nation’s capital!
The first commercial vineyards were planted in the early 1980s and these days there are dozens of successful wineries in the locale.
While the local vignerons produce a range of styles, it’s their chardonnay that is perhaps most widely acclaimed. Such is the quality of the chardonnay fruit from the region that winemakers from intra and interstate source Orange chardonnay grapes for their own wines – including big names like Penfolds (who released a Bin 311 Orange Chardonnay) and Hunter Valley producers like Gartelmann, Tambourlaine and Brokenwood. The Orange chardy is undoubtedly up there with some of the most palatable I’ve encountered.
While it may be the Orange chardonnay which gets the plaudits, there’s hope for some of the local reds if the quality of the Angullong vin rouge is any guide.
The 2016 Angullong Cabernet Sauvignon is said to be from one of the best vintages that the region has seen. Perfect growing conditions with warm days and cool nights over the long ripening period made for an ideal milieu for wine production. So, it’s unsurprising in that context that the 2016 cabernet was a vintage that the Angullong team are very proud of. While the wine sells at only a $22 price point, I wouldn’t overlook a mid-range Coonawarra or Margaret River cabernet in favour of the Angullong example. It’s good; but to my palate, not a rock star.
But the Angullong 2017 Shiraz on the other hand is way better than would have been expected of such a troublesome vintage. That year was extremely cool and wet and the fruit ripened much later than normal. But the end result of the toil in the vineyard is an outstanding wine which, at the $22 price point, represents outstanding value. Typically of cool climate shiraz, the Angullong has a spicy and peppercorn nose but oozes ripe blackberries and mulberries through the middle, with perhaps a slightly herbaceous edge.
There’s lovely balance and some gentle acids and fine tannins to round out a lingering conclusion. But be warned; before you know it, you’ll find yourself raising the glass to take another sip. Superb!
Take a bow Crossing family; you’re doing the region proud.