When orange wine isn't Orange wine: confusion over vintage's description

WHAT’S IN A NAME?: Mayfield Vineyard proprieter Richard Thomas with one of his white wines. He believes consumers need to know the difference between orange wines and wines from the Orange region. Photo: JUDE KEOGH                                                                                                                                                                                  0525wine2

WHAT’S IN A NAME?: Mayfield Vineyard proprieter Richard Thomas with one of his white wines. He believes consumers need to know the difference between orange wines and wines from the Orange region. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0525wine2

CONFUSION about how to identify a wine from the Orange region has led to a crackdown on how the word ‘orange’ is used.

Wine Australia regulatory services general manager Steve Guy said confusion had been caused between wine from the Orange geographical indication (GI), produced at 600-1200 metres above sea level, and 'skin contact white wine', which is produced using older techniques and often has an orange hue.

“The message to producers of skin contact white wines is that you risk serious consequences in describing your wines using the word ‘orange’, unless the word is clearly being used to denote one of its common English meanings,” he said.

Mr Guy said if producers outside Orange wanted to use the term to describe the wine’s colour, they needed to make the context clear - “wine of orange hue” would be acceptable, but “orange wine” or “orange-style wine” would not.

Orange Region Vignerons Association president David Crawley said the association had written to Wine Australia about the issue and welcomed the response.

“It’s good to see them clarifying issues,” he said.

He said Orange region’s brand had not  been damaged yet, but Orange vignerons wanted to “nip it in the bud”.

“It’s better to take action now - it’s more prevention than anything else,” he said.

“We’re the premier wine region in New South Wales. The environment where it’s grown is unique in Australia because of its elevation and it’s worth protecting.”

Mayfield Vineyard proprietor Richard Thomas said there was a niche for orange wines, but consumers needed to be aware they did not resemble wines from the Orange region.

Mr Thomas said while phenol from the skins and tannins from the seeds led to broad flavours and textures in orange wine, the process overrode the natural properties of the grape. 

“Being cool climate, our wines have a long growing season, which brings out much more flavour development - that contrasts dramatically with the orange wines, which don’t have that fruit flavour,” he said.

“We believe wine represents a certain place at a certain time and this character should not be dominated by the wine process.”

Charlotte Gundry from Taste Orange said the region enjoyed a good level of awareness in Australia and orange wine represented a small portion of the market, but the organisation would be happy to work with Wine Australia and ORVA on a marketing strategy if required.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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