Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat (half-bottle)
Our Merchant Prince is classified 'Rare' - it is the pinnacle, the richest, most complex and complete wine. The ultimate in intensity. Raisined sweetness explodes on the front of the palate. Complex nutty flavors flow through the full length of the palate and the drying tannin finish lingers for many minutes.
Fruit is left to ripen on the vine until as late as possible to ensure the necessary high degree of lusciousness. Juice is fermented for only a very short time before being fortified with neutral spirit and stored in oak to mature. Only the very best fruit from the finest vintages is used in the blend. As with any blended wine, it is difficult to specify an exact age. The oldest base wine is well over 60 years old, with only wines of the highest standard from excellent vintages being added to this outstanding solera.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Black in color with a green rim, this wine antique looks like liquid ebony. It's heavy and languid in the glass, and you barely need to shake it before its powerfully sweet scents come rolling out like a mist: sweet, fragrant, invasive and citrus-laden. This is hugely weighty wine in the mouth, as any liquid containing 400 g of sugar per liter must be, but time and creative scrutiny have brought limitless finesse: burnished treacly richness, the salt of the ages, polished waxed wood, menthol and root spice. Drink 2019-2020.
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 Muscat), 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.”
Apart from the classics, we find many regional gems of different styles.
Late harvest wines are probably the easiest to understand. Grapes are picked so late that the sugars build up and residual sugar remains after the fermentation process. Ice wine, a style founded in Germany and there referred to as eiswein, is an extreme late harvest wine, produced from grapes frozen on the vine, and pressed while still frozen, resulting in a higher concentration of sugar. It is becoming a specialty of Canada as well, where it takes on the English name of ice wine.
Vin Santo, literally “holy wine,” is a Tuscan sweet wine made from drying the local white grapes Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia in the winery and not pressing until somewhere between November and March.