Know Your Variety: Australian Fortified Wines
The Australian wine scene was built on Fortified wines. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1960s that table wines really took off! While we don’t drink as much Fortified wines as we used to, Australian winemakers still craft examples that are comparable with the best in the world. This is thanks to our unique range of regional characteristics, micro-climates and cultural influences.
The four main styles of Fortified wine we produce in Australia are Tawny, Vintage, Liqueur Muscat and Topaque. But where’s the Port you might be asking? Well, just as we can’t call Sparkling wine Champagne anymore, Port is the name reserved for wines from Portugal’s Duoro Valley. Instead, we now call these wines Tawny or Vintage, depending on how they’re made. It’s the same with Topaque, which used to be known as Tokay, but that’s now only for wines from Hungary.
Australia’s favourite fortified wine is indisputably Tawny. It’s a style that’s been aged in the barrel for many years at the time of its release, so it is intended to be consumed immediately. This means you can cellar a Tawny, but it won’t improve.
It’s made in Australia’s warmer regions such as Rutherglen, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and the Riverland.
The varieties used to make Tawny differ from winery to winery, but Shiraz and Grenache along with Mataro and Touriga all feature.
Tawny gets its name from its darker brown or tawny colour. This is a result of the wines being in barrel for extended periods, which is a type of aging called oxidative.
Rich and powerful with a sweet luscious texture, Tawnys show aromas and flavours of dried fruits, 5 spice, leather, grilled nuts and caramel.
Vintage Fortified Wine
Vintage Fortifieds are made from grapes grown in one single designated year (vintage). Bottled after only a short time in barrel, about two years, they’re made to be aged in the bottle for a minimum of 5 years, but ideally 20, to ensure all the aged characters fully develop.
Like Tawnys, Fortifieds are most commonly made in warmer regions like Rutherglen, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and the Riverland.
The most common grape variety used to make Vintage is Shiraz, with Touriga, Tempranillo and Mataro also featuring.
Typically deep in colour, Vintage Fortifieds display aromas of fruit and the spice of oak. They are full bodied and rich with a powerful backbone of tannins.
Liqueur Muscat is one of only two styles of Australian wine that no other country in the world can replicate. Often referred to as Brown Muscat, it is made from the Muscat a Petits Grains Rouge, which means, “Muscat with little red berries” grape.
Muscats are produced in the warmer regions across Australia, but the most famous region is Rutherglen.
Much like Tawny, it is aged in barrel for extended periods, which concentrates the power and richness of the wine. They are also released in bottle ready to drink and can be cellared, but will not improve at all.
Sweet and luscious, Muscat is one of the richest and most powerful wines in the world with classic aromas and flavours of dried fruits, espresso coffee, tobacco leaf and chocolate.
Topaque is made from the white Muscadelle grape and it calls Victoria’s Rutherglen region home.
Like Tawny and Muscat, it is aged in barrel for extended periods, which concentrates the power and richness of the wine. They are also released in bottle ready to drink and can be cellared, but will not improve at all.
In terms of flavour profile, Topaque is often considered to be a lighter, finer wine than Rutherglen Muscat with flavours of candied fruits, honey, toffee and a distinctive cold tea character.
To purchase your favourite fortified wine, check out our latest catalogue now.