Thursday, February 3, 2011

Golden Goodness

The early days of the wine industry in Australia focused on the production of fortified wines. In those days 80% of the total production of Australian wines was fortified, whereas today this is the exact opposite, with Rutherglen keeping most of the fortified production alive. 170 miles north-east of Melbourne, the Rutherglen wine region owes its glory both to the gold rush and grape rush periods.

The visit to Campbell’s winery captured the beauty and unique heritage behind the styles of wines produced in this region. Fourth generation winemaker Colin Campbell is the current custodian at Campbell’s winery and gave us great insight into the alluring production methods of Rutherglen Muscat and Topaque (formerly known as Tokay).

The magic behind these wine-styles mainly relies on the commitment of generations of family winemakers who kept old stocks alive and who cautiously blended small portions of these stocks to make the final golden goodness. The whole process is rather long with great attention to detail especially when selecting the solera system which best suits the new wine stock. The tin sheds, synonymous with Australian culture, also play an important part in the ageing of these wines. Not as architecturally beautiful as the tuffeau cut cellars of Vouvray but equally as important to complete the distinctive characteristics of these wines as they get very hot in the sizzling summer days helping the maturation process of the wine.

Rutherglen Muscat and Topaque do not only vary in grape variety (with Muscat using Muscat à petit grains rouge ,locally known as Brown Muscat and Topaque using Muscadelle) but also stylistically. In their younger years Muscats have more floral, caramel and honey nuances which develop wonderfully into nutmeg, chocolate and Christmas cake notes. Topaque are more savoury in style with black tea, coffee and rancio characteristics more present.

No comments:

Post a Comment