Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A Little Piece of Australian Heaven

I’ve never been the biggest fan of fortified wines, except for the odd glass of Manzanilla sherry; luckily for me though I was bought a bottle of Morris Rutherglen Liquor Muscat as a Christmas present last year. I’ve only had the opportunity to taste this wine on two previous occasions, the first being in my Fortified exam for my WSET diploma, the other at a wine tasting I hosted in New Jersey last year.

It hails from around the towns of Rutherglen and Glenrowan, in the hot, North West corner of the state of Victoria, and is produced using the Muscat Blanc Ā Petit Grains, which also goes under the guise of Brown Muscat in Australia. The grapes are left to semi-raisin on the vine before being pressed; it is then partially fermented with grape spirit being added to fortify it, before being subjected to an unusual wood ageing process. This ageing process is a cross between that employed by Sherry (Solera) and Madeira (Estufagem) under a hot tin roof.

Several years ago the producers joined forces to produce four tiers of quality, with Rutherglen Muscat at the bottom, followed by Classic then Grand, with Rare being the top classification. This is a voluntary and self regulated system, with each style getting richer and more complex as you go.

On pouring the wine the first thing you notice is its dark amber colour; on the nose you get pronounced aromas of dried fruit and grape spirit. On the palate it’s lusciously sweet, coating the inside of your mouth with the flavours of dried fruit and you get a warming sensation from the fortified level of alcohol. It’s almost like drinking Christmas cake that’s been soaked in brandy for months; the sweetness of the wine is balanced perfectly by the acidity, making it a stunning desert wine.

As an entry level Liquor Muscat this is an excellent wine that I really enjoyed and would highly recommend to anyone looking for a different kind of desert wine.

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