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Regional Overview

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Visiting Australia? Discover our main wine states and regions

Australian wine regions

Australia is a large country - Margaret River is further from the Hunter Valley than Jerez in Spain is from Tokaji in Hungary - so, despite the distinctive national approach to wine, Australian wines are not all the same. The wines of Margaret River and of the Hunter Valley differ as much as sherry and tokay do. The three most important wine-producing states are South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. As well as bulk production, they each have specific premium wine regions.

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Home : Regions : Australia : Victoria : Rutherglen

All articles on the Winepros Archive website are pre 2006 and are historical information only.


Principal Wine Styles

Mechanical harvesting, Rutherglen

Wrought from the brown clone (or type) of muscat a petits grains, more commonly known as brown muscat or brown frontignac, this is Rutherglen's most famous fortified wine and conventionally regarded as its greatest. Virtually unique in the world (Cyprus, South Africa and Spain are, or have been, competitors), this distilled essence of liquid raisins can achieve undreamt of layers of complexity as it ages (and greatly oxidises) in cask. Once imprisoned in a bottle, its only future is to be drunk, for its changes will cease. Explosively rich and sweet though the Muscats are, the finish is cleansing and brisk; if not dry in the technical sense, the finish does not cloy nor seem as sweet as the plum pudding flavours of the mid palate suggest it will be. A great winter aperitif, and an after dinner wine at any time of year.

This wine is unique; nowhere else in the world is an aged, fortified wine produced as this is from the muscadelle grape, the junior partner with semillon and sauvignon blanc in making the sweet botrytised table wines of Sauternes. Here it has an intense varietal aroma and flavour akin to a mixture of cold tea and fish oil (the latter in the nicest possible sense). Toffee and butterscotch are also commonly used descriptors for a wine which has more feline grace than the all-powerful Muscat, and is preferred by some winemakers and wine judges simply because it has that grace. Young Tokays are a sheer delight, and can be enjoyed anywhere, any time, however much convention anchors them around the very start of finish of a meal.

The traditional red table wine of Rutherglen, made in heroic proportions, befitting a Greek god of wine. For a while, contemporary taste suggested that the weight of these wines should be downscaled, but no longer is this so. Some of the fullest-bodied wines in Australia now come from here.

Other Red Wines
Such well known varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon compete with regional specialties such as Durif and Mondeuse, either as single varieties or sometimes blended with Shiraz. Deep colour, full flavour and high levels of natural alcohol are the natural consequence of the combination of climate and soil.

by James Halliday


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All articles on the Winepros Archive website are for historical information only. Mr James Halliday is no longer associated with Winepros.