So I’m off to Orange this weekend, with a media ‘famil’ on the cards tied in with the 20th anniversary of Orange being declared a wine region.
Given that its been nearly three years since my last visit, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this rising NSW wine region has changed. Last visit I was quite critical of the focus on Cabernet and came away more impressed by Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Time will tell whether that sentiment continues.
In the meantime, I opened up this pair of Orange region wines (not orange wines – serious consequences for that) as a bit of a warmup – get my head in the game, my eyes on the prize and other pre-game cliches…
Sassy Wines The Ivor Orange Arneis 2015
Sassy is a relatively new name for Orange, with a vineyard first planted in 2005, the wines made by Pete Logan. Sassy have made a real point on focusing on Arneis, which is an unusual choice for a hero variety, particularly because it’s so hard to make memorable Arneis. Indeed the challenge with this wine is largely that its so tart and hard edged, the lemon and pear fruit carrying plenty of fruit ripeness but also seems a bit clumsy and choppy, the palate just not quite packing the smooth flow of flavour. You want it to be good, but it just feels lumpy. Then again, I’d level such a complaint against many Arneis, even in Peidmont. Best drinking: 2016-2017. 16/20, 87/100. 13.3%, $24. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Sassy Wines Orange Pinot Noir 2013
The Sassy vineyard sits at at 900m, which is about the point where Orange is largely white wine country with the odd smattering of red grapes. Maybe not marginal red wine country (especially for Pinot), but certainly has its challenges. Anyway, this Pinot was wild fermented with 20% whole bunch, then spending 6 months in barrel (which is quite a short maturation period in barrel). Very light ruby with just a little orange, this high acid style almost looks like Coteaux de Champenoise or a German Pinot, with quite meaty and ferrous characters. The light and angular palate is only borderline ripe, but with a background of bacon too, suggesting the fruit wasn’t all ‘just ripe’. Very dry, it’s let down by a lack of fruit intensity really, with the freshness of such an acidic style not complemented by enough generosity. Interest, sure, but this is not an easy drink. Best drinking: 2016-2020. 16.5/20, 88/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? No.