Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz 2013
The Campbell family’s production of dessert and fortified wines dates back to the 1870’s. Direct descendants of gold mining pioneers, the fourth generation Campbell family owns and tends the vineyards at Rutherglen in Northeast Victoria. Brothers Malcolm and Colin Campbell have inherited the perfect tradition of making, blending and maturing these special styles. Since the first grapes were harvested at Rutherglen, wine experts from around the world have been consistently overwhelmed by the unique quality and richness of the area’s fortified wines. Today, the Rutherglen symbol on a bottle serves as a seal of authority that it is an authentic Rutherglen wine. Campbells winery is located in Rutherglen, a historical, picturesque town, approximately 93 miles northeast of Melbourne. The vineyard is blessed with a unique climate that is mellow and predictable, which offers plentiful sunshine. In winter and spring, soaking rains provide excellent moisture reserves. In summer months, Rutherglen experiences warm, sunny days and very cool clear nights. The extended, mild, dry fall allows the grapes to achieve slow, even ripening and abundant fruit flavors. Tokay is one of Rutherglen’s best-kept secrets—sweet, luscious, complex and elegant. Each vintage the grapes are left on the vines (20 to 25 years old) to ripen fully until raisined and laden with natural sugar. The resulting wine is blended with previous vintages using a modified Solera method to produce a consistent house style. The final blend contains portions of wine from some vintages more than 30 years old. The deep brilliant, burnished gold Tokay displays toffee, honey and tea leaf characters with mellowed oak on the finish. This unctuous dessert wine was developed by pioneer winemakers who discovered that Muscat produces a wonderful wine when exposed to Rutherglen’s long dry growing season. Each season the grapes are picked from vines (20 to 25 years old) after prolonged ripening to ensure maximum sugar levels and raisin character. The wine is then blended with previous vintages, some more than 30 years old, in the Soleras to maintain a consistent house style. The resulting bright amber Muscat displays intense, fresh raisin fruit flavors with a luscious, mouth-filling finish.
Located in the warm and dry northeastern corner of the state of Victoria, bordering the southern side of the Murray River, the Rutherglen region bears a long history of fortified wine production.
Rutherglen's main variety, Muscat blanc à Petits Grains (also known as Brown Muscat or Muscat à Petit Grains Rouge for its often pink- or red-tinged berries) flourishes in the region’s deep, moisture retaining, alluvial red loam soils. To make the distinguished and aptly named fortified, "Rutherglen," these Muscat grapes are harvested after left to semi-raisin on the vine. Fermentation only reaches a few degrees alcohol before the juice is fortified with grape spirit and aged in a barrel system resembling a cross between a Sherry solera and a Madeira estufagem. Rutherglen wines boast great concentration and fine aromas hinting at orange flowers and spice, and are capable of astounding quality.
The Rutherglen region grows second grape, called Muscadelle (confusingly unrelated to any Muscat clone), which also produces a quality fortified wine. Historically Australians called the grape “Tokay” and believed it to have Hungarian ancestry but when the French ampelographer, Paul Truel, identified it as Muscadelle in 1976, the name had to be changed. Today varietal wines made from Muscadelle can be called, “Topaque.”
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.