It wasn't all that long ago that the Orange wine region was looking for a champion.
It was obvious, even as a young wine region, that Orange did a lot of varieties well - chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, shiraz and riesling - but which was going to emerge as the champion variety?
After all, all regions have champions - chardonnay and cabernet in Margaret River, shiraz and semillon in the Hunter, sparkling and pinot in Tasmania, and so on.
But Orange? Fast forward a decade or two and chardonnay is clearly the boss. And on the red side of things, pinot noir leads the way, although there is also some outstanding shiraz at lower altitude levels.
And if there's a "smokie" to keep an eye on, sparkling wine is starting to shine too.
Right now, with 40 cellar doors - the big five are probably Swinging Bridge, Ross Hill, Printhie, See Saw and Philip Shaw - it's clear the Orange region is flying as wine producers.
About half of those cellar doors are open seven days a week and feature names that are now increasingly familiar - Colmar, Angullong, Bloodwood, Mayfield, Patina and so on.
And no-one is more familiar with it than Tom Ward of Swinging Bridge who was named most successful exhibitor at the recent Orange Wine Show and is a former president of the Orange Regional Vignerons Association.
"We've come a long way in a relatively short space of time," he says, referring to the fact it was the late 1980s before the modern wine industry really kicked off there.
"About five years ago we had a meeting of wine producers and we decided to concentrate on high quality wines, marketed under the Orange region label.
"So, there is very little bulk wine from Orange. Most of our wines start at $25 and go up to over $50."
The region's topography is interesting with grapes growing from 600m altitude to 1150m, which might help explain the number of varieties it does well.
"Broadly speaking the chardonnay fits into two categories," Ward says.
"Those at 600m to 800m, what we call Lower Orange, tend to be textural with melon flavours.
"Those at 800m and above are more green apple and grapefruit flavours, with a distinct acid line and drive."
Chairman of judges at the recent Orange Wine Show, Adam Walls, described it as "an exciting time" for the region in his wrap-up.
"Orange is often spoken about as a region with potential, but from the results it's evident that Orange has moved past that now and has come of age," he said. "It's exciting to bear witness to a region showing the rest of NSW and Australia what it's capable of."
For the drinker, their wines are certainly worth seeking out.
Stockman's Ridge Outlaw Chardonnay, 2017
This is six years old, almost seven, and it's as fresh as a daisy. It's delightful drinking, in fact. The vineyard is 800 metres above sea level, so this is unmistakably cool-climate chardonnay. Mid-lemon in colour, it has green apple on the nose, while the palate shows stonefruit flavours, as well as citrus and grapefruit, and just a hint of struck match. This is ageing gracefully and still has years ahead of it.
Angullong Fossil Hill Sangiovese, 2022
Angullong, while strong with the traditional varieties, has been a major player in the alternative Mediterranean varieties. One of those is sangiovese where they have some of the oldest vines in NSW. This is medium weight and has that sour cherry element so typical of sangiovese, supported by some plummy richness mid palate. The finish has a herbal, savoury edge with the oak barely noticeable. A good food wine.
Mayfield 'William' Pinot Noir, 2022
This is part of Mayfield's new premier range. It's a lighter style of pinot, ruby red in colour and full of red fruits that dance on the tongue. Cherries and raspberries tend to hold sway with hints of mushroom, and there's a stalkiness there that's both textural and adds another level of flavour complexity. The finish is lingering - it's quite persistent, in fact - and the bright acidity carries a tangy savouriness.