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Dessert wines

January 16, 2010

First things first, Leah has written about the NYE weekend as well, check it out here.

Nextly, after heading through Cootamundra, we made our way South to the Murray River.  Our first town on the Victorian side conveniently happened to be Rutherglen, which is world renowned for its fortified and dessert wines.

Whilst sticking with what they know, they’re also exploring the New World by producing table wine which is quite nice.  The varieties we saw most of were Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Durif – often seeing a Shiraz Durif blend as well.  As we were just passing through, we made a stop off at the information office in town, which doubles as a centralised cellar door as well as the info centre.  From here we set out to Campbell’s winery.  Highlights here were:

  • 2002 Pedro Ximinez – this grape variety is used to make Sherry, so this wine had a very sherry-like flavour to it, but was made as a savoury table wine.  Very interesting, and very good.
  • 2007 Chardonnay
  • 2008 Viognier
  • 2009 Tempranillo
  • 2008 Shiraz Durif
  • 2007 Bobbie Burns Shiraz – aging potential on this one
  • 2007 Rutherglen Durif – ditto the aging

For the dessert wines, we tried the following:

  • 2008 Semillon Sauternes (375mL)
  • Empire Port
  • 2006 Vintage Port
  • Rutherglen Tokay
  • Rutherglen Muscat

After this, we headed to Pfeiffer’s.  Table wines we enjoyed here:

  • 2009 Reisling $17/b
  • 2009 Carlyle Chardonnay Marsanne – we preferred this to the straight chard as it was not as woody and buttery, which is our preferred style of chardonnay. $16.50
  • 2009 Gamay – think of this one as a rose, but with more body and complexity.  We bought a bottle of this in Melbourne for dinner and it was excellent.  $17/b
  • 2009 Ensemble Rose – sweeter than we normally like, but not too sweet. $15/b
  • 2008 Shiraz – The wine maker here won an award for this wine, and it was easy to see why.  $21/b

Dessert wines we tried:

  • 2005 Christopher’s Vintage Port – this will age for 20 years they reckon, but it also makes for damned good drinking now.  $24.50/b
  • Classic Rutherglen Topaque $29/b
  • Rutherglen Muscat $20/b
  • Classic Rutherglen Muscat $29/b

Drinking well made dessert wines was an eye opening experience.  After being overwhelmed by sugar filled lolly drinks in the past, I did approach this with some caution.  However, tasting the beautifully balanced wines that were on offer, I’m a total fan and will be reserving a portion of the fridge and cellar for fortified’s from now on.  It’s hard to describe exactly what makes them great, but I guess it’s just a more adult version of the crap port and dessert wines you’ve probably tasted in the past – not as sweet, more wine-like in texture and flavours, and much, much more complex.  Definitely worth a try.

So if you’re driving through the area (i.e. to/from Melbourne or the snow), then make a detour and spend an afternoon in Rutherglen.  It’s choice.


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