Durif and Muscat – Winemakers of Rutherglen
**Last week Keti Kezunovic headed to ‘Rutherglen in the City’ to taste and learn more about the iconic Rutherglen wine region’s unique wine varietals. As co-owner of the Melbourne Bars Pawn and Co., 29th Apartment and the soon to be opened StoryVille, Keti knows a thing or two about wine, and couldn’t wait to meet a few of the winemakers and discover more about Durif and Muscat.
Words & Photos by Keti Kezunovic – Caption Image by Georgie James
‘Rutherglen in the City’ showcased sparkling reds, primarily Shiraz and Durif, as well as a range of alternative whites. We were keen to discover more about Durif and Muscat, which seem to be the champion wines of the Rutherglen region, which provides the perfect environment for these particular grape varieties, primarily as a result of the long Autumn allowing a prolonged ripening process.
Chris Pfeiffer, winemaker and owner of Pfeiffer Wines (pfeifferwinesrutherglen.com.au), considers this variety as ‘Australia’s most unique contribution to wine’, adding:
“No other region in Australia has Muscat’s at this champion level”.
History is the key for this variety, as the minimum cellaring is 6-10 years ageing, through to over 100 years. Such long cellared batches are basically for the next generation to nurture and continue the process. The flavour profile consists mainly of a pronounced raisin taste, and is very sweet on the palate. The older the muscat, the more complex the flavour profile, where notes of toffee emerge.
Paul Squires from Buller Wines (bullerwines.com.au), had a tip for an unbeatable dessert, suggesting to pour muscat over vanilla bean ice-cream. Interestingly, Pfeiffer had a more eclectic suggestion of pairing this wine with a tomato based carpaccio. Now there’s two hot tips from for the kitchens of the winemakers!
Warrabilla Wines (warrabillawines.com.au), chief winemaker, Andrew Sutherland Smith, calls his 2014 Reserve Durif , ‘The Mother of all Durifs”. At a whopping 16.5% alcohol, it certainly is!
Although this wine is strong and rich on the palate, with big bold flavours, the grapes are very thin skinned, making this variety difficult to grow. Great skill and precision is needed to ensure that this variety of red wine grapes make it to harvest time. Smith is a fifth generation winemaker, so has a substantial degree of experience to draw on.
Durif is tipped to be the new upcoming variety, with other Australian regions starting to release their own versions. However the Durif growers from Rutherglen seemed to have really cornered the market on this particular variety.
**At the recent ‘Rutherglen in the City’, Melburnians showed great interest in both Durif and Muscat – two distinct varietals that flourish in the Rutherglen soils and represent both the region’s tradition and innovation. Revered world-wide for its fortified wines, the Winemakers of Rutherglen are trying new ways with Muscat, with a range of Muscat cocktails on offer…think Muscat Coolers, Muscat Sangria and Muscat Espresso Martinis.
The Winemakers of Rutherglen are an inspiring collective of 19 wineries from one of Australia’s most historic and iconic wine regions, boasting more than 150 years of winemaking history.
Check out more online or head to the cellar door this weekend!
Instagram & Facebook: @winerutherglen
Additional Information & Images Courtesy of Winemakers of Rutherglen/Jarryd Pentony – Little Big MarketingPR/Photographer Georgie James
Connie Lambeth – The Australia Times Gourmet News – Food/Wine/Hospitality/Events
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29th Apartment – www.29thapartment.com.au
Pawn and Co. – pawnandco.com.au
**Keti’s last collaboration with TAT Gourmet News:
Gourmand’s Celebrate Williamstown’s Wine and Cheese Festival