Last week the Orange wine industry hosted growers and winemakers from around NSW.
They came from Canberra, Hunter, the Southern Highlands Highlands, Tumbarumba and the Central West to spend the best part of a day considering the impact of clonal selection on wine quality.
All the big names in grape and wine research were there: Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Australian Wine Research Institute, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Wine Australia, NWGIC and Charles Sturt University.
Throw in some serious nursery experience from Yalumba and a Master of Wine to lead a tasting and you have a complete package.
The topic was Chardonnay so the interest was very high. Chardonnay is an important grape in Orange. It is also an important grape for Australia. Australia ranks third in the world in Chardonnay production behind France and the US.
In Orange Chardonnay makes a wide range of excellent wines from rich, full-bodied styles to crisp, fresh styles.
This style variation can be due, apart from winemaking decisions, to the altitude, the soil or the aspect of the vineyard. And, as we discovered, the clone can also have an impact.
There are many clones of Chardonnay, I10V1/5 & P58 being the most common. Michael McCarthy from SARDI has been conducting clonal trials on Chardonnay and we tasted a trial of four different clones from three regions.
Justin Jarrett (See Saw), Martin Gransden (Cumulus), Drew Tuckwell (Printhie) and Daniel Shaw (Philip Shaw) gave the local growing and making perspectives, with the considered view being the site is at least as important as the clone.
And the take home message? You can maximise the potential of your site by selecting the right clones.