And some of my tasting notes of some of the best examples ......
Campbells The Merchant Prince Rare Muscat
"This is Campbell’s top end ‘Muscat’, currently retailing for around 120 AUS dollars for a 375 ml bottle! Cork sealed. 18% A/V.
Dark brown/mahogany in colour with khaki green tinges. Opened volatile and astringent but with time (24 hours, i.e. tonight) this passes to reveal a magnificent ancient assembly of decadent smells, flavours and texture - a tour de force of its type and unique for the utter brilliance it delivers in the minute quantities that can be imbibed at any one time - verging on the consistency of fresh motor oil. The bouquet is a cornacopia of muscatels, dates, maple syrup, creme de caramel, molasses, sweet earth, dusty old oak, Christmas cake, baking spices and old tea chest - an unbelievable array of nuance! In the mouth wine has enormous viscosity with mouth coating and teeth staining intensity, flavours that mimic what’s found in the bouquet and a gobsmacking finish of monumental length and intensity. This is fortified dessert wine at its global best. 95 points."
Morris Very Old Liqueur Muscat
"We completed another great night of food, wine and comaraderie with an ancient bottling of Morris’s moorish and incredible Very Old Liqueur Muscat (94 points) that by the age of the label would contain a majority of material that would be well in excess of 50 years old. From my reckoning the final blend for this wine was assembled somewhere in the mid-eighties, the average age being the “very old” release (which, BTW, equated to one bottle per (very good) customer per year, I was told, some years ago now, by Mick Morris’s winemaker son, David) being probably closer to 30 years of age. Some of the material (which is worked by the winery on a solera system, consistently topping up barrels until the desired blend has been achieved) would be well in excess of the average age I’ve quoted. As with most wines that come out of barrel, having “done their thing”, for years and, in this case, decades, one always risks losing the freshness carefully monitored by the talented Rutherglen winemakers who specialise in this art form. There was the slightest perceptible staleness on the nose (my wife called it “mild fish shop smell”), I thought it a touch of fish oil, but we were splitting hairs here. Otherwise the wine was “all there” with a magnificent array of aromas and flavours that would fill a page, but suffice to say, rested in the outer limits of richness, decadence and hedonism. Just so thick and viscous with an explosive mid- to back-palate with the astringency of the rancio and spirit providing the perfect foil to the luscious raisin, honey, christmas cake, burnt toffe and rum’n'raisin chocolaty fruit. The wine needs only to be drunk (I meant to say, sipped) in minute quantities given its enormity and power (not mentioning the high A/V) and with a finish that lasts well in excess of a minute, one can intellectualise as to the merit of taking another sip while the one just gone hangs all through your perceptory senses for, seemingly, an eternity."
Buller’s Rare Muscat
"Ancient mahogany brown with a khaki/olive rim, incredible viscosity. Heavenly amalgam of esters soar from the glass harbouring fragrant muscatels, creme caramel, mixed peel, dusty oak and a volatile top note. Massively concentrated, luscious palate of amazing sweetness with identical nuance found in the bouquet, held together by a grippy astringency on a sensationally long, lingering, moorish departure. Rutherglen Muscat at its absolute finest. Drink now. 96 points. 375 ml bottle sealed with a tradional cork and 18% A/V."