Muscat of Rutherglen is an Australian treasure, impossible to replicate as it contains the essence and artistry of multiple generations. It is lovingly handcrafted from aged stocks, nurtured by generations of Rutherglen winemakers in their unique climate. The resulting wines are intense, rich and sensuous.
Muscat of Rutherglen is a world-recognised and critically acclaimed wine style unique to Rutherglen, with a proud history spanning over 100 years of family winemaking. The blending skills required to produce this rare gem have been passed down from generation to generation, with winemakers plying their craft so that they can share their skills and artistry with Muscat lovers from all over the world.
Rutherglen Muscat is classified using a tiered system that indicated the level of complexity of the wine. The four descriptions mark a progression in richness, complexity, age and intensity of flavour. Age is only one factor in determining a wine’s classification, but it does provide an important clue. Each producer of Muscat of Rutherglen has their own “House Style” within the classification system.
The classified Muscat of Rutherglen wines bear a mark of authenticity – a trademark that is only applied to wines made from the great Muscat vineyards of the region, assuring the highest quality and adherence to classification.
Anything from amber through to deep brown-black with olive hues
Orange blossom, espresso, Turkish delight, nuts, toffee, dark chocolate, Christmas spice, rose hip, raisins
Raisin, dried fig, roasted nuts, Christmas spice, toffee, salted caramel, dark chocolate, molasses
Low, with no obvious oak characters
Low to medium
Late March to the end of April
With its complex flavours and wonderful balance, Muscat of Rutherglen is a versatile partner for food, from savoury dishes to cheeses and desserts. It’s also one of the best wines to pair with chocolate. It can be served over ice as an aperitif, in a cocktail, alongside a meal or after dinner.
The foundation style displaying fresh fruit aromas, rich fruit on the palate, and great length of flavour.
There are more than 200 varieties of Muscat in the world but Rutherglen’s wine producers only use the high-quality Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge (locally referred to as ‘Rutherglen Brown Muscat’), renowned for its intense flavours. The clones used are specific to Rutherglen and have been grown here for more than 140 years.
The complexity of Rutherglen Muscat starts in the vineyard, where the quality and sugar content of the harvested grapes are paramount. Vines are planted on deep, alluvial red loam soils, which retain moisture and let the fruit ripen gradually to build rich flavours while maintaining acidity.
Producing Muscat is not for the faint-hearted: growers must leave the grapes to ripen and then shrivel on the vine for as long as possible to achieve optimal Baumé (sugar ripeness) levels. This extended ripening period risks damage by elements such as botrytis and early autumn rains, but the rich harvest is worth the wait.
In the winery grapes are crushed and then partially fermented. Some winemakers choose not to ferment, instead macerating the skins with the juice to extract as much flavour as they can from the grapes.
The juice is fortified with a high-strength grape spirit. Early fortification preserves the high natural sugars by stopping fermentation, while a short fermentation on skins releases additional flavour and colour.
The wine is pressed off skins, fortified, then transferred to barrels. The wine matures in old oak barrels or casks. The barrels impart little flavour allowing slow maturation and flavour development. Exactly how it’s done depends on the house style.
The maturing casks lose around 3% of their volume per year ‘to the angels’, further concentrating the flavours and providing richness. As the wine develops, the winemaker may add new vintages to create complexity and balance to a blend.
The enjoyment of Muscat of Rutherglen is greatly enhanced by serving it in a large glass. The Muscat of Rutherglen producers worked with George Riedel – the 10th generation of this famous varietal glassware family – to find the perfect glass. The Riedel Muscat of Rutherglen glass is generous allowing appreciation of the complexities of this unique wine. Muscat of Rutherglen is a national treasure that deserves to be shared with new wine drinkers.
Muscat of Rutherglen is a rich, sophisticated, sensory, and mystical drinking experience that truly reflects the layers of expertise and time that has gone into the production of every drop.
With a taste sensation that lingers on and is near impossible to replicate, Muscat of Rutherglen is often said to sit between a wine and a spirit, which gives the style its greatest strength: versatility.
The classification system assists drinkers to choose the best Muscat for each occasion where it is sure to enhance the flavour.
The new generation are pushing the boundaries with Muscat of Rutherglen.
Think the lighter Rutherglen Muscat, fresh and youthful with a subtle richness that lingers with each sip, enjoyed as an aperitif, on ice or mix it up in a refreshing cocktail with a difference. Serve it with canapés, dried fruit and nuts, fruit-based desserts, panna cotta and sorbet.
Enjoy Classic Rutherglen Muscat with a blended age of six to ten years, with savoury foods – soups, spicy curries and slow-cooked meats. Cheese is a natural match especially a creamy Brie, crumbly cheddar and pungent blue cheese.
The stronger Grand Rutherglen Muscat, blended from Muscat wines aged in barrels for anything between 11-19 years, is a perfect match to the flavours of terrine and pate, chocolate and chocolate-based desserts, rich butterscotch and caramel desserts. Enjoy it with any strong cheese or, when trying to impress, serve it as an Affogato.
The pinnacle Rare Rutherglen Muscat, blended from Muscat wines in excess of 20 years of age and in many cases passed down through multiple generations, deserves to be sipped and savoured alone for pure pleasure to appreciate its intensity. It is history in a glass! Perhaps linger longer with a strong coffee or the finest dark chocolate.
Relaxing on the couch sipping a glass of Rutherglen Muscat, book in hand; sharing a cheeky after dinner glass of Classic Rutherglen Muscat with a partner; unwinding in the bathtub, a glass of Grand Rutherglen Muscat perched on the vanity; or simply savouring some Rare Rutherglen Muscat for pure pleasure.
Baumé is a measurement used by growers and winemakers to determine grapes’ sugar level and ripeness. It measures the sugar level in the must and wine through its density (specific gravity). The sugar level ultimately determines how much alcohol a wine will have. Different winemaking techniques affect the final alcohol content.
Baumé levels are typically measured just before harvest to help determine whether the grapes are ready to be picked, and again in the winery after the grapes have been pressed to analyse the final sugar content and potential alcohol content of the wine.
Evaporation plays an important role in the maturation of Muscat. On average, the maturing wines lose 3% of their volume per year – this is often referred to as the ‘angel’s share’. This concentration through evaporation makes the production of these wines an expensive exercise, however, it’s also what makes them so rich and intense.
Many Rutherglen winemakers use a modified version of the solera system to mature their fortified wines.
This is a centuries-old method of blending and maturing wines to maintain consistent quality and character. In this graduated ageing process, wine is transferred slowly from barrel to barrel, partially emptying one barrel and then filling it up with wine from the preceding barrel and so forth.
New wine is introduced at the youngest stage and the mature wine is taken from the final stage, provided it matches the previous withdrawal This system of fractional blending allows winemakers to blend the variations of different vintages to create a distinctive, consistent house style.