IT'S one of the lesser-celebrated varieties of wine, but when Huon Hooke looked to shed a light on pinot gris, it was an Orange wine he turned to.
Word of Mouth Wines' 2018 Pinot Gris has been awarded five stars and listed at number one in Australia this week on Hooke's list of 65 pinot gris.
Fellow Orange vineyards Gartelmann Stephanie Pinot Gris ranked fifth on the list, while Angullong Wines' 2018 Pinot Grigio ranked second out of 41 pinot grigios across the country.
The ranking system measures the quality of the wine against the price.
For Word of Mouth, which has not entered a wine show for some years, owner Peter Gibson said sending bottles to Hooke each year was a way of benchmarking the product against the rest of the country.
We spent 10 years telling people what it was and now they all know.Peter Gibson
"The leading wine writers in Australia are Huon Hooke and James Halliday and most wineries send them samples," he said.
"[Reviewers] look at the wine in context whereas a wine show is on the the day - when you get to a certain stage, you know if your wines are good.
"It might change next week, but it was nice to get recognition from the industry."
Mr Gibson said the vineyard was the first in Orange to plant pinot gris in 1998, with the first commercial release in 2002, when most vineyards stuck to chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon and riesling.
"We spent 10 years telling people what it was and now they all know," Mr Gibson said.
He said it was telling his wine and another from Tasmania were among those featured in Huon's recent showcase, given they were both cool climate wines.
"That's why these things shine, the higher sites in Orange can make great wine and it's proving a premium product," he said.
With winemakers in warmer wine regions looking to secure land in Tasmania as the climate continues to heat up, Mr Gibson said he had not seen them turn to Orange yet.
But he said as picking seasons became earlier, he was turning to more later-ripening varieties including mencia.
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