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Grant Burge 20 Year Old Tawny
The 1950s marked the turning point for table wine in Australia as the fortified wine industry, propped up by exports to the UK, went into decline – yet a legacy of ‘ports’ and ‘sherries’ survives.
From the 1890s to the 1950s, the Barossa became a hothouse of fortified wine production thanks to a combination of warm, long, ripening days and grape varieties capable of hanging for higher sugar levels, most notably Grenache and Mourvèdre, but Shiraz too.
The Illaparra Fortified Store, built of ironstone from nearby quarries, was the original fortified winemaking home of Grant Burge, whose ancestors were already well-known as fortified wine specialists in the early 1900s.
Followed the trend towards table wine production in the 1960s, the Burge family retained the tradition of making fortified
Grant Burge retains a passion for fortified wines and continues to make them using grapes from their own Barossa vineyards and premium, aged fortified stock from his family’s Wilsford Winery. ‘It’s in my blood, and I cannot change that’, says Burge, ‘[and] I also believe in preserving and maintaining our Barossa legacy and tradition’.
Using the larger berries best suited to fortified winemaking, the Grant Burge 20 Year Old Tawny is made and matured in the Grant Burge Cellars from the Barossa’s traditional tawny varieties Grenache, Mourvèdre and Shiraz, blended to an average age of 20 years.
After harvest and crushing, fermentation is initiated in traditional open fermenters and stopped at the requisite sweetness level by the addition of a quality local spirit.
According to winemaker Craig Stansborough their, ‘ability to drive up the road to Tarac to taste and choose excellent spirits for specific styles is a very important part of fortified winemaking’.
The wine is matured in older barriques and hogsheads in a solera-based system and a limited quantity of 20 Year Old Tawny drawn for bottling each year while the barrels are topped up with younger wine.
Written by Anthony Rose