Day two began with coffee and breakfast at Benson’s Cafe (the best place for coffee in Orange!) and a trip out to Ross Hill. We were greeted by father and son team Peter and James Robson, who took us on a tour of their immaculately kept winery (originally an old apple packing shed), and poured us samples of almost the entire Ross Hill range.
While not certified organic, Peter and James believe that minimising the use of commercial preparations in the vineyard is key to expressing the unique characteristics of their special terroir. Vines are hand-pruned, grapes are hand-picked and insecticides aren’t used. At an elevation of almost 800 metres and with rocky, free-draining soils over a 410 million year old limestone base, the pair believe they have one of the best sites in Orange, especially for red varieties.
Since 2009 the wines have been made by Phil Kerney and his wife Rochelle and marketed under two labels: the higher priced Pinnacle Series and the more moderately priced Family Series. All of the wines were excellent, but for me the stand-outs were the refined, yet full bodied, wild yeast fermented Pinnacle Chardonnay 2010, the rich, savoury and elegant Pinnacle Shiraz 2009 and the Bordeaux blend Isabelle & Jack Cabernet Franc Merlot 2009.
Next we headed down to Fiorini’s where Italian chefs Patrizia Fiorini and Marina Fedeli delighted us with their home-style Italian cooking served on shared plates in a brightly coloured little cottage decorated with exuberant Van Gogh prints. More superb examples of Orange wines were chosen to complement a wide assortment of dishes including warm olives, lightly fried calamari, smoked mozzarella, locally sourced garlic mushrooms and a veal schnitzel topped with a ‘to die for’ truffle and gorgonzola sauce!