Wine and Chocolate: Australian Stickies

Nov 11, 2002
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R.L. Buller & Son Tokay Victoria NV
91 Points, $13/375ml
Technique: Solera

Liqueur Muscat and liqueur Tokay are Australia's unique contributions to the dessert wine lexicon. These unctuous "stickies," as they are called Down Under, have been a part of Australian wine culture since the discovery of gold brought settlers to northeastern Victoria during the 1850s and '60s. These wines incorporate all three techniques of dessert-wine making: They are made from partially dehydrated grapes, are fortified during fermentation, and are matured using the solera system.

Liqueur Tokay is made from the Muscadelle grape. In this version from Buller, grapes grown around the town of Rutherglen are picked late, with some shriveling at harvest. After partial fermentation, alcohol is added, leaving substantial residual sugar. The aging solera, consisting of small barrels and larger vats, began in 1986. Each year, the wines are blended together and one-eighth is drawn off for bottling. The tank is topped off with new wine from the latest vintage and the blend is then put back into barrels and casks.

This wine combines the freshness of the youngest portion of the blend with the oxidative character of the oldest portions. Its delicious crème brûlée flavor gains complexity from an orange peel note followed by a long finish. Although thick-textured and luscious, it never gets heavy or cloying.

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Wine Score Price
CAMPBELLS Tokay Rutherglen Isabella Rare NV 98 $75/375ml
Dense and syrupy. Dried cherry and prune flavors dominate, with coffee, tar, Brazil nut and sweet spices weaving through the finish. 50 cases imported. -- H.S.
CAMPBELLS Muscat Rutherglen Merchant Prince Rare NV 97 $75/375ml
Intensely sweet and exotic, yet refined. Flavors of prune and dried Muscat grapes, layered with espresso, sweet smoke, cardamom and ginger. 50 cases imported. -- H.S.
R.L. BULLER & SON Tokay Rutherglen Calliope NV 94 $50/375ml
An elegant dessert wine with flavors of brown sugar, hazelnut, caramel and exotic spices swirling around a core of cherry flavor. 150 cases made. -- H.S.
YALUMBA Muscat Victoria Museum Release NV 93 $17/375ml
Silky and seductive, offering coffee, walnut, orange peel, cherry, cream and exotic spice flavors. 3,500 cases made. -- H.S.
R.L. BULLER & SON Muscat Victoria NV 92 $13/375ml
Smooth, unctuous and brimming with Muscat spiciness, finishing with toffee and prune flavors. 2,000 cases made. -- H.S.
WARRABILLA Muscat Victoria NV 92 $20/375ml
Unctuous and sweet, with plum, spice and brown sugar flavors, hinting at coffee beans on the long finish. 300 cases made.
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