ORANGE based wine producers listened intently yesterday as they were inspired to create shiraz vintages that will rival those produced in the Rhone Valley in France.
At the first national Cool Climate Shiraz Symposium held as part of this year’s wine week program, producers and those involved in the industry heard from experts about the potential for cool climate areas such as Orange to produce fine wines to appeal to a discerning palate.
Wine producer and international judge Michael Hill Smith chose five of his favourite wines from the Rhone Valley which ranged in price from $75 to $180 a bottle to be poured for each symposium participant to experience first-hand yesterday.
He said although Orange has found its way on the wine map with its ‘hero’ variety of Sauvignon Blanc, the possibilities are now open to producers to make their mark with elegant varieties of Shiraz.
“In many ways you could say that Sav Blanc has been a door opener for producers,” he said.
Mr Hill Smith said Orange, like other fruit growing areas across Australia, was successfully making the transition from growing fruit trees into the creation of vineyards saying it was a natural fit for many producers.
Fellow wine industry expert Tim Kirk, who is chief winemaker and chief executive officer of Clonakilla Wines, had a huge impact on the development of the wine industry in Canberra. He said Orange has a bright future to explore and experiment with new flavours of Shiraz.
“The potential for Orange being above sea level is high, and there is to be a working out which varieties are going to be best to move away from the more robust styles,” he said.
As the benchmark for comparison during yesterday’s symposium Mr Hill Smith chose for tasting the 2009 Guigal Cotes du Rhone, 2009 Ogier Cote Rotie, 2010 Gonon Saint-Joseph, 2010 Yann Chave Hermitage, 2010 Domaine des Lises Crozes-Hermitage (Maxime Graillot) and the 2007 August Clape Cornas varieties from the Rhone Valley.
Following a symposium dinner in Orange last night, wine industry participants will tour local vineyards today where shiraz is planted.