Rutherglen is celebrated around the world as the home of fortified wine in Australia. Rutherglen muscat and topaque are distinctive Australian fortified styles recognised for their rich flavour and luscious sweetness. Grapes are harvested late with naturally high sugar, fortified to around 18% alcohol and matured in oak for many years to gain complexity. Muscat is made from the brown muscat/frontignac (muscat a petit grains rouge) variety. Wines are thick and syrupy with flavours of raisin, treacle, date and walnut. Topaque is a fortified dessert wine made from the white muscadelle variety. It shows typical characters of cold tea, dried fruits, nuts and butterscotch. Winemaking companies like All Saints, Brown Brothers, Campbells, Chambers, Morris and Stanton and Killeen are legendary Rutherglen names. Each one has a long tradition and recognisable house style. The Rutherglen region also produces full bodied table wines from the signature red variety, Durif. They are concentrated and spicy with plummy flavours, firm tannins and a tendency towards high alcohol. Sparkling shiraz is another regional speciality. Other varieties include riesling, marsanne, chardonnay, sangiovese and gamay. Rutherglen is a region of gentle rolling countryside where the Great Dividing Range meets the Murray River plain in north eastern Victoria. The climate is hot and continental, moderated by cool evening air rolling in from the foothills of the Victorian Alps. There are over 1,000 ha under vine. The long, dry ripening season that extends into Autumn is ideal for fortifed styles. Soils consist mainly of alluvial red loams on the slopes and fine sandy loams on the flats close to the riverbank. Watch Stuart MacGill uncork Rutherglen