_This wine comes from North East Victoria in Australia, specifically from the Rutherglen district and is made out of
Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, known locally as Muscat Brown.
It is a non vintage wine made from a blend of various plots and
vintages, in order to produce a more complex and balanced wine, that is
consistent in quality from one year to another.
It will be ready to drink as it has been fully matured, with long oak
ageing, and it will not develop further in bottle. Nevertheless it will
keep fairly well due to its deliberate slow oxidation process during
The climate of these specific region is hot and dry, but most
importantly the ripening season in autumn is long and dry, allowing the
grapes to be left hanging until a late harvest, that will transform them
to a semi raisened state. This will allow the grape sugars to
concentrate in the shrivelled Muscat berries, as the water evaporates
due to the sun activity. Although hot, the climate is moderated by cool
breezes coming from the foothills of the near Victorian Alps, that helps
maintain some natural acidity.
The resulting sticky juice will need extra work to be drawn off, which
will be made by a vertical press. Afterwards it will be fermented in a
mixture of old open fermenters or rotary fermenters until it reaches the
desired sugar level (14˚ to 17˚ baumé), at which point fermentation
will be interrupted by addition of grape spirit, in order to kill the
yeast and lifting the total alcohol to about 18% abv.
Following the short fermentation period the wines are transferred to oak
casks for a slow and gentle maturation process. This process can be
achieved by a system mixing techniques similar to Jerez's Solera and
Madeira's "Estufagem", blending new vintages to older ones and keeping
barrels under a hot tin roof, to maintain a consistency of style and
quality and quicken the maturation respectively, or it could be done by blending
wines matured individually in oak barrels, that will have been sourced
from different vineyards and vintages, only adding suitable new or
matured wines to the master blends when Muscat of just the right quality
is available. The second case is more common to be seen in the
production of the top quality wines.
In order to differentiate this ageing choices it is useful to know that
Rutherglen Muscat has been divided by a quality Classification system.
Most basic wines will be labelled simply as Rutherglen Muscat, and than
in an increasing scale of age, richness and complexity there will be
Classic, Grand and Rare. The last two categories are blends of only the
best parcels of matured Muscat or selected wines from the best vintages.
They are high demand, but are only bottled in very small quantities
each year, so prices will be accordingly high.
This classification, although mainly trustworthy, is merely indicative
as it is a voluntary, self-regulated system, with no official trade body
responsible to oversea it.
A typical Rutherglen Muscat tasting note could be something like this:
the wine is clear, but has a deep dark brown hue, apparently thick
showing clear signs of viscosity through the large amount of sticky
tears. Slightly clearer, tawny rim.
Nose - clean
aromatics with pronounced intensity. Bouquet is fully developed showing
intense aromas of ripe grapes, raisins, fig, fruitcake, some coffee and
toffee undertones and fresh floral hints.
Palate - A sweet
wine with a medium lively level of acidity. It is fortified to a high
level and has a muscular medium plus body. Has pronounced flavour
intensity confirming the grapey and raisiny character, some dried figs,
sweet coffee notes, honey and some cinnamon. Very nice creamy,
mouth-coating texture, ripe but fresh flavours balanced by enough
refreshing acidity on the medium plus length.
These wines usually are of very good quality, with a nice
balance between the ripe notes and the level of acidity, shows some
complexity with fruit mingled with interesting tertiary aromas from long
maturation and has a lengthy, pleasing finish.