In the pantheon of great wines of the world, the two most prominent styles that Australian can take faith in being the leading proponent and producer of, is Hunter Valley Semillon and of course, the great, long-lived fortified wines of Rutherglen.
For everything else, like Barossa Shiraz, Margaret River Cabernet or Australia's reinvigorated and unique take on 'modern' Chardonnay, it can be argued that there is both an equivalent peer or someone else who can lay claim to being at the forefront (Rhone, Bordeaux, Napa Cabernet and Burgundy for instance).
But for Semillon, and moreover, the Rutherglen fortified, which was inspired by the great Vintage Ports of Portugal, Rivesaltes, Mistelle and of course Spanish Sherry, Australia in many peoples minds, has no peer.
Australia has a long and distinguished history in fortified wines, winning international awards for its fortifieds since the 1870s, and Rutherglen, just shy of the New South Wales border in Northern Victoria, is the absolute beating heart.
"(Australia’s fortified's) arguably represent the best value of all Australian wines given the cost of production, notably in the amount of working capital tied up for decades."
"Rutherglen Muscat is 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."
While Topaque (née Tokay) is perhaps the most individual Rutherglen fortified, it is the all encompassing lusciousness of Muscat that garners all the attention. That hedonistic sweetness is almost unmatched in the world of wine, with even the finest Madeira or Hungraian Tokaji typically lighter and less impossibly unctuous.
But there is more to Muscat's appeal than pure sugar. With such a long history of production, the raw material available in solera is priceless (over a century at some wineries), which gives an extra layer of complexity and intrigue.
Finally, what is also incredible is that, despite the quality and storied reputation, Rutherglen fortifieds across the spectrum remain relatively affordable. Though with international demand constantly increasing, that situation won't last long...
In the meantime, view all our fortifieds here.
It's amazing the lengths that some winemakers will go to. Fanatical is putting it mildly, sometimes it's downright masochistic.