Hello, 89 Project readers. The following post is taken from the Wine Blogging Wednesday #51 post on my blog Bloviatrix. As stated in my post, this wine received a rating of 91/100 from Stephen Tanzer of International Wine Cellar (actually in summer of 2006), but also received a more recent rating of 88/100 from the Wine Spectator, which averages to 89.5. I have also noticed it receiving a 92/100 from the Wine Spectator in a different recent vintage (blend). Despite the efforts at Campbells winery to maintain consistency from year to year in this Solera-process blended dessert wine, perhaps there has been variation from year to year. The only reason I could think that this wine would rate an 88 or 89/100 is that while delectable and very well-made, it perhaps lacks some complexity that would set as a truly top-tier fortified muscat. My post is following.
This month's Wine Blogging Wednesday theme is hosted by 1 Wine Dude blogger Joe Roberts. This fun theme is "baked goods", literally wines that have been maderized (or heated) such as Madeira. The theme has been extended to include wines that have been fortified as well. I have chosen this month the Campbells Rutherglen Muscat, which is a dessert wine made from the Muscat grape (fortified with grape spirits). Rutherglen is an area in Northeast Victoria, southeast Australia that is famous for distinctive fortified Muscat and Tokay dessert wines. Campbells has been in the winemaking business since 1870, which is impressive.
I purchased this 375ml bottle a few months ago at a New Hampshire State Liquor Store in Nashua for about $15. Was I attracted to the fine old Scottish name on the bottle? Perhaps. Was I lured in by the big Decanter Gold Medal label on the front? Sure. Do I appreciate a delicious fortified sticky? Absolutely.
According to the Campbells web site, the wine is made using the Solera system, that is, from a blend of wines from several vintages, hence there is no vintage on the label. The alcohol by volume (ABV) is a relatively modest 17%. This wine recently received a 91of 100 from tough wine critic Stephen Tanzer of International Wine Cellar, which says to me it must have some special qualities.
I have to be honest- I only had a small glass of this before a guest quaffed the whole thing. It just really tastes good, especially if you have any kind of sweet tooth. I'm always happy to be a good host :-). But I did take down some tasting notes. The nose reminded me right off the bat of plum pudding and hard sauce that I used to have sometimes on holidays as a child. It's so funny that on Campbells web page describing the wine they state that it pairs well with plum pudding and hard sauce. That made me chuckle. Also prominent on the nose are candied raisin and burnt caramel. I sensed also on the nose something that reminded me of cognac, but more unctuous. The finish is good and very pleasant. I'll probably try to round up another bottle of this at some point!