The Wonderful World of Muscat & Topaque
It's January, it's over 40c outside and I am 3 hours from Melbourne in Rutherglen, Victoria. What am I doing I ask myself, I am supposed to be on holiday for goodness sake?
There are 16 glasses in front of me, 2 'flights' of 8 wines each, my hosts are both in front of me and I am hot and sticky..... Take five Andrew - .pick up the glass and taste the wine - be a good boy and a good guest.
I pick the first one and KERR-POW!!! Now I know why I am here - joy in a glass, one taste after another, they come in quick succession 4 Topaque, then 8 - The Rutherglen, the Classic, then the Grand and finally the Rare. The 8 Muscat follow close behind with their ageing classification the same [see opp page]. My goodness me, will I cope with this, will my taste buds ever recover?
Later I entered the cool and gentle winery that is world famous - STANTON & KILLEEN - the very first winery I visited on my first visit to Australia over 30 years ago. Seven generations of un-broken family ownership making Muscats and Topaques that are regarded as the best is their style yet still affordable and enjoyed. Using the age old varieties of Muscat petit grains rouge and Muscadelle these fortified wines are unique to Rutherglen. They are luscious and rich packed with complexity
Meeting Simon Killeen, the young, enthusiastic winemaker and his mother Wendy who has taken on the marketing, it was plain to see the passion and excitement of the future, despite time being their most important 'ingredient'. You cannot buy time and Simon is well aware of this. He is making wine for his grandchildren to sell, a thought that can make you stand back and think.
These wines are fantastic with desserts but also with soft blue cheese, chocolate or simply with a coffee as a digestif. Packed in half bottle the prices range from £15 to over £50, however once opened they will last until finished and enjoyed so nothing is wasted - [hurrah I hear you cry].
Muscat & Topaque Classification; Rutherglen Fortified wines are classified under four descriptions that mark a progression in richness, complexity and intensity of flavour. There are minimum ages but Stanton & Killeen [S&K] always err with extra age
Rutherglen – is the foundation of the style; displaying the fresh raisin aromas, rich fruit, clean spirit and great length of flavour on the palate which are the mark of all the Muscats of Rutherglen. [S&K age = 5 years]
Classic Rutherglen – displays a greater level of richness and complexity, produced through the blending of selected parcels of wine, often matures in various sizes of oak cask. [S&K age = 12 years]
Grand Rutherglen – takes the flavour to a still higher plane of development, displaying a new level of intensity, depth and concentration of flavour, mature rancio character. [S&K age = 15 years +]
Rare Rutherglen – is rare by name and by nature and the pinnacle Rutherglen Fortifieds. – displaying extraordinary qualities that result from the blending of selected parcels of only the very richest and most complete wines. Only bottled in tiny quantities each year the wines are breathtaking in complexity, texture flavour. [S&K age = 20 years +]
You could try pouring the regular Rutherglen Muscat over fresh fruit and good vanilla ice-cream - it is simply divine.....