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DWWA 2013 International Trophies: Sweet Fortified under £15

This year's winner of the Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show Sweet Fortified under £15 went to Campbells, Topaque, Rutherglen NV, Australia.

Campbells, Topaque, Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia NV (17.5%)
Lovely golden rich toffee and butterscotch fruit with lush Christmas pudding and caramelised orange aromas. Sleek and spicy with toffee-apple character, smoky notes, roasted hazelnuts, dried fruit and flowers.

UK £11.49 (375ml); Con, Quf, Vgy

Tasted against • Offley, Late Bottled Vintage, Port, Portugal 2008 • Graham’s, Six Grapes Reserve, Port, Portugal NV • EOSS , Grand Cru, Samos, Aegean Islands, Greece 2012 • Sainsbury’s, Taste The Difference 12 Years Sweet Pedro Ximenez, Sherry, Spain NV

Often a traditional stronghold for the more established, Old Word fortifiedproducing countries, this International Trophy is now heading Down Under after two years with Bacalhôa in Portugal.

A member of Australia’s First Families of Wine, Campbells’ story begins back in 1870 when the Scotsman John Campbell established the vineyard in the Rutherglen region of northeastern Victoria. Today, the vineyards and winery are operated by the fourth-generation viticulturist Malcolm

Campbell and his brother Colin, who makes the wines. Campbells has extensive Muscat and Topaque soleras to draw from. Probably because of its warm, Rhône-like location, the producer is best known for its stickies, the lusciously rich fortified and aged Rutherglen Muscats and Topaques, which, uniquely, combine grape variety, sunny, dry autumn weather and generations of experience to produce wines with astonishingly high natural sugar levels and great flavours. One block may be picked early, another selectively pruned for low yields, and another left to mature long into autumn, allowing the grapes to raisin on the vine for an even greater concentration of sugars.

The solera method of blending and ageing also plays an important role, with a series of five stages of casks, each containing wine at successive stages of maturation. Colin Campbell’s desire to see Rutherglen Muscat and Topaque recognised as unique has led to the development of a classification system of four levels: Rutherglen, displaying fresh bright fruit aromas (Campbell’s Topaque is in this one); Classic, imparting greater of richness and complexity; Grand, textured, complex and viscous; and Rare, with intensely rich fruit and rancio character.

Anthony Rose

Written by Decanter

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