William Wilson tasted many of the region's top wines when he judged the entries in the 2019 Orange Wine Show recently but it didn't stop him from visiting some of the wineries for further tastings on the weekend, and his visit could mean more business for some wineries.
Among the wineries Mr Wilson and International Convention Centre Sydney food and beverages services manager Marc Singerling visited was Philip Shaw Wines.
Philip Shaw Wines winemaker and proprietor Daniel Shaw said it was an excellent chance to demonstrate wine and food pairings.
"It's a really important thing, judging the wine show is one thing but you really get a sense of perspective when you see what people are doing," Mr Shaw said.
"There's a lot of wines to taste and some wines look better in that system and some wines are better when they are matched with food.
"I think our wines are better when they are matched with [food]."
As the ICC Sydney beverage operations and cellar manager, Mr Wilson oversees the ICC's extensive wine list, and was seeking opportunities to further bolster ICC Sydney's network of producers.
There were 4000 bottles of Orange wines added to ICC Sydney's order after Mr Wilson's visit last year.
From January 1, our wine list is only going to have NSW wines, 25 per cent Hunter Valley and 25 per cent Orange as the two biggest contributing regions.William Wilson, ICC Sydney
Since the convention centre opened in December 2016, it has purchased 50,000 bottles of wine, and 20 per cent of those bottles are Orange wines.
That figure is likely to increase in the near future.
Mr Wilson said the original wine list from three years ago included 80 per cent of NSW wines with the remaining 20 per cent including "the wines you have to have" such as some wines from the Barossa in South Australia.
However, he said the NSW wines were just as good.
"From January 1, our wine list is only going to have NSW wines, 25 per cent Hunter Valley and 25 per cent Orange as the two biggest contributing regions," Mr Wilson said.
The other regions represented will include places such as Mudgee, Cowra, the Riverina and Tumbarumba, which is known for its sparkling wines.
However, the quality of Orange wines, not just a quota, will see the number of Orange wines on the convention centre's wine list increase.
"This is my third year that I've been up for the [wine] show and judged it," Mr Wilson said.
"What you will find is the quality of the whole region just seems to be getting better and better but there's more consistency in the quality of the wine making.
What you will find is the quality of the whole region just seems to be getting better and better but there's more consistency in the quality of the wine making.Orange Wine Show judge William Wilson
"Even in vintages that have been a little bit more difficult, the quality of the wine is getting better.
"For one single region to have such a great variety of styles it makes it much easier for me in my own business to have a nice group of wines from the region."
Mr Wilson said previously chardonnay and shiraz has stood out among the varieties grown in Orange but this year there were "wonderful pinot noirs" and other varieties as well.
"There was a malbec that I absolutely loved."
He said the red wine, traditionally from the Bordeaux region is known for growing and being made well in Argentina but the Orange malbec "stood out".
Mr Wilson said there were also some wonderful white wines at this year's Orange Wine Show.
"There is a sauvignon blanc at Printhie Wines, sommeliers tend not to like sauvignon blanc very much, we all like chardonnay and things like that are a little but more complex, but I liked that citrus you get in that cool climate [Printhie wine], that one stood out for me," he said.
"I think the message is there's some fabulous wines, there's other wines that are quite commercial in style like the pinot gris.
"I really like commercial styles because they sell, but they can be a little bit dull and there's certain groups that could be really fabulous in the region but perhaps some of the wine makers don't pay enough attention to them.
When it comes to determining what wines to include on a wine list he said there's various factors.
"Good wine lists have plenty of chardonnay and plenty of shiraz and just a little bit of other varieties but a good balanced wine list is going to have those different ones," Mr Wilson said.
He said one example was a tempranillo and pinot noir blend he tasted at Swinging Bridge on Saturday.
"That's the kind of thing on a wine list that really stands out, no one else makes a wine quite like that," Mr Wilson said.
Good wine lists have plenty of chardonnay and plenty of shiraz and just a little bit of other varieties but a good balanced wine list is going to have those different onesWilliam Wilson
At the ICC Sydney he said there were two sets of drinking trends according to events.
Mr Wilson said at cocktail parties people like fresh zesty wines, "rosé is a huge seller," and it was was among the wines he said could use more attention in Orange.
"There's some lovely rosés but a lot of them seem like a bit of an afterthought," Mr Wilson said.
"If you can pay as much attention to them as the chardonnay and shiraz there's plenty of people in Sydney that will be buying them."
He said the Orange wine region should also be able to produce Champagne style sparkling wine.
"Philip Shaw Wines and Printhie Wines have been making some fantastic sparkling wines," Mr Wilson said.
"Printhie's sparkling rosé picked up the trophy [at the Orange wine show awards]."
However when it comes to sit-down dinners he said it depended on the food pairings.
"[Marc Singerling] does three food tastings a week and has four entrees, four mains and four deserts and the clients choose which ones they like and we match up those meals with out wines," Mr Wilson said.
"It's so important to get the right balance between the meal and the wine."
Although the region is currently in drought, Mr Wilson said there was still good wine making taking place.
"The great thing about good wine making is the ability to produce great wines when you start to have challenges from drought," he said.
"When it rains you get nitrogen coming down, that's what you never get when you just turn on the tap.
"The funny thing with drought is, for the first couple of years you get really good flavour but of course if you are in the wrong place and get three, four, or five years of drought you can never get those flavours."
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