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Wine Australia cracks down on ‘orange’ wine

Wine Australia has threatened that producers outside the region of Orange in New South Wales who name their wines as “orange” risk “serious consequences”.

Photo credit: The BWYD
Photo credit: The BWYD

“The message to producers of skin contact white wines is that you risk serious consequences in describing your wines using the word ‘orange’ unless the word is clearly being used to denote one of its common English meanings,” Wine Australia regulatory services general manager Steve Guy said in a statement.

The move was prompted due to consumer confusion between the wine region of Orange in New South Wales and orange wines commonly made in France and Georgia, which take their name from the colour achieved by extended skin contact.

“There is a trend among some producers of skin contact white wines to describe their products as ‘orange wine’. The potential for confusion with the registered geographical indication is obvious.

Elementis "Skin Contact" an orange wine from South Africa
Elementis Skin Contact – an orange wine from the Swartland in South Africa

“Therefore Wine Australia advises that when used to describe the colour of a wine the context must be made absolutely clear by, for example, stating “wine of orange hue”, rather than simply ‘orange wine’, Guy said.

“It is an offence under the Wine Australia Corporation Act to include the geographical indication “Orange” in the description and presentation of wine when the wine does not originate in the indicated region,” he added.

Guy stipulated that the term “orange-style wine” should also be forbidden “for the same reason that ‘Champagne-style’ is not an acceptable description for sparkling wine not originating from Champagne.”

According to the Central Western Daily, the Orange Region Vignerons Association welcomed the move by Wine Australia.

“It’s good to see them clarifying issues. It’s better to take action now and nip it in the bud,” the association’s president David Crawley told the paper.

“We’re the premier wine region in New South Wales. The environment where the wines are grown is unique in Australia because of its elevation and it’s worth protecting,” he added.

Last week at the RAW wine fair in London a debate took place about orange wines and the need for an official definition of the increasingly popular wine style.

“We need to define exactly what they are. People are talking about orange wines and natural wines as if they’re interchangeable, but they’re not the same thing,” the fair’s organiser, Isabelle Legeron MW told db.

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