Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia
As the sixth generation of the Chambers family to make wine at the Rosewood winery, Stephen took over the winemaking in 2001. This venerable winery, started in 1858 by William Chambers, is one of the most fabled in Rutherglen. A charming, north-eastern Victorian town, the sort of place that time forgot, Rutherglen still speaks of the gold rush that led to its foundation, and the development of the wine industry in the 1850s.
The family makes distinctive yet classical wines from its 50 hectares of vineyard. The Rutherglen Muscats are made from the darker-skinned Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge variety (a mutation of Muscat à Petits Grains Blanc). Winemaking has been subtly changed in recent years in order to make fresher, cleaner wines. Fermentation is done by vineyard plot in closed stainless-steel tanks to preserve the grapes’ perfumes. It is then stopped when the must reaches between 14.5 and 15.5 Baumé (potential alcohol) by adding neutral grape spirit. Upon settling, the wine is racked and placed into old oak casks (from 10 to 100 years old, and from 225 litres all the way up to 5,000 litres in size) until required for blending. The average age of the Rutherglen Muscat blend is four years and this has increased in the last couple of years as new vineyards have come into production. In exceptional vintages, grapes from Chambers Rosewood’s low-yielding centenarian vines are used for the Old Vine Muscat, which is made using a separate, special solera.
The wines, rich and unctuous on the palate yet zesty and balanced on the finish, mingle dried fruit characters with hints of rose petals. These are superb wines to sip on their own, with cheese or with a wide variety of desserts. They are a reminder that Rutherglen produces some of the greatest sweet wines in the world!