What does 150 years taste like?

Reinvigorating Rutherglen muscat

There’s something startlingly extraordinary about a wine touching your lips that’s been crafted, nurtured and safeguarded by up to five generations of winemakers...

That said, the mention of fortifieds, like muscat and topaque, can conjure images of dust coated wine decanters and grandparents sipping from small glasses after dinner. Not exactly a consideration for a contemporary liquor cabinet… or is it?

With Rutherglen muscat undisputedly renowned as the best in the world, who better than the winemakers of Rutherglen to blow the dust off the bottle and share the magic that is Rutherglen muscat? With fresh, colourful cocktails, exciting new packaging and up-close and personal cellar door experiences, over 150 years of mystery continues to unravel.

So why does this generation of Rutherglen winemakers want to reintroduce muscat to the world? Well, there’s a list, and it starts with the Maker's Mark.

Impossible to duplicate, yet recognisable in a single sip to any skilled winemaker, the Maker’s Mark or “House Style” is unique to each winery and exists as a culmination of over 150 years of family winemaking.

Each vintage, a “stock” is produced which is added to the other stocks, resulting in products comprised of generations of wine, rich with snowballed knowledge and experience.

“It’s one of those generational things you can hang your hat on,” sixth generation winemaker Amy Sutherland Smith of Warrabilla Wines explains.

“I do it because my Dad did and he does it because his Dad did. It’s not an exercise in making money, it’s an exercise of love”.

Rutherglen muscat cocktail Campbells

Rutherglen muscat is also totally unique - its unsurpassed richness and lingering complexity is unable to be replicated anywhere around the world due to several factors:

  • Climate: Rutherglen vintage (March, April, May) is typically mild, sunny and stable, resulting in extra ‘hangtime’ for the fruit on the vines. This, in turn, produces extremely high baumes (measurement of natural fruit sugars) critical to a successful muscat.
  • Soil: Soil influences character in the muscat, with lighter sandy soils producing more perfumed wines with delicate fruit characters, while the deep alluvial red loam soils found on higher grounds build rich, raisin type flavours.
  • The grape: With over 200 varieties in the muscat family, only one is used to make Rutherglen muscat - the high quality muscat a Petits Grains Rouge, or to the locals, “Rutherglen Brown Muscat”.
  • The Maker’s Mark: Perhaps the most important contributor to the uniqueness and superiority of the Rutherglen muscat.


Campbells Winery

Campbells Wines Barrel Hall

Finally, Rutherglen muscat deserves a reintroduction because it’s the best - tried and tested! World leading wine critic and wine advisor to the Queen, Jansis Robinson, has referred to the Rutherglen muscat and topaque as “…some of the most extraordinary in the world, and nowhere else has the vine stocks and arid climate to grow and mature anything like them.”

The region continually gains international attention, with Morris of Rutherglen at the front of the pack, taking home a swag of both domestic and international awards every year. Senior winemaker David Morris has worked at his family winery for over 25 years and while still humble as can be, is proud of the muscat his winery and region offers.

“We’ve done pretty well in wine shows over the years, both Australia and domestic, but it’s like football - if you won a premiership 10 years ago it doesn’t mean much today," he admits.

"We just like to make good quality wines”.

David’s first priority when making good quality muscats is all in the grape - ensuring only the best vines are are used in varietal planting, As he says, 'if you don’t get good fruit you can’t make a good quality wine'. After this, his next priority is ‘the art of blending’.

“We don’t use the solera system in our winery, I tend to rely on blending,” he explained.

“We keep a lot of our wines separate. When I go to do a rare, I’ll go and get vintages that are rich and concentrated and even a bit essencie. I’ll go and get a rage of middle vintage years that will give me the weight of flavour with a bit of freshness - it can’t just be old and tired. So then I’ll go and get some younger material from a different range of years that will actually freshen and bring into harmony. I reckon I can get a better result by having different options”.

To add to the string of Rutherglen muscat achievements, Campbells Winery recently walked away with the international title of Best In Show at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2018. Then of course there’s the $1,000 bottle of All Saints Estate muscat, with its near perfect scores from renowned critics …  the list goes on.

There’s no doubt the illustrious Rutherglen muscats are luscious, rich beyond belief and lingering. The complex blend of youth and maturity is mimicked through the string of skilled winemakers that created them - a rare experience difficult to do justice in words. So if you’re keen to take the journey yourself, experience the Rutherglen muscats at their finest and visit the cellar doors.  Here, you can taste the very best a house has to offer (many exclusive to cellar door visitors), learn the Rutherglen muscat classifications, tour the age old barrels, drink in the history and discover the new versatility of Rutherglen muscat.