All Saints Rutherglen – Wine Tasting

Randalls Albert Park hosted yet another wine tasting masterclass this weekend, presented by Nick Brown and Dan Crane from All Saints Rutherglen. All Saints is a family owned and run winery with a tragic modern history. It was bought by Peter Brown and his 2 brothers about 10 years ago and subsequently the brothers shares were bought from them. Peter then met an untimely demise in an motor bike accident while out on his Sunday ride. This left Nick and his sisters with the winery and a quandry about whether they should hold onto the business or sell. Rutherglen seems like a pretty small place and apparently people were asking the siblings when they were going to sell up.

They didn’t, and the 150 year old winery couldn’t be in better hands.  The first priority was refreshing the brand, making the packaging a more contemporary and appealing in style while making the wines a little more approachable. You can see the results of this refresh with the new silver labels appearing modern and fresh, yet still showing respect to the century old winery. The fortified labels have also been refreshed and the bottles are now capped with a very classy glass stopper. It is amazing how something so simple as a nicer cap and a new label can improve the whole feel of the bottle and the brand.

Unfortunately for those working in the winery, this brand refresh hasn’t gotten around to refreshing the winery itself. Winemaking is a tedious task using 100 year old technology (for want of a better word.) The basket presses are all manually operated, with pressing being a hand cranked operation and then once complete the pressed grapes are manually shoveled out. The open fermenters are also dated and require a rewaxing each year, something that involves Nick, a flame thrower, a paint brush and a new bucket of wax.

Nick’s priority was to make wine that he could convince his friends to drink – something winemaker Dan Crane has achieved beautifully. The 2009 Moscato is a light, fresh and grapey breakfast style wine, the sort of wine that can actually replace a beer. Aside from the Moscato, I wasn’t a fan of the whites. I felt like they weren’t doing enough to warrant the $15 – $25 price range. The Chardonnay/Viognier was clean but too subtle, and the fresh taste of the Marsanne wouldn’t stand out in a crowd, though I suspect this may change as it develops with 2-5 years of age.

The reds, however, are amazing. The 2006 Sangiovese/Cabernet has a beautiful blood red colour and great savoury notes, $19 a bottle seems too cheap for such a great wine.The 2006 Shiraz is a little bit young. A touch of alcohol and the fruit flavours haven’t developed yet, but time will definitely open this up. The 2006 Durif is solid but young. It’s medium tannins, rich flavours will develop and will be much better drinking in 2 years time.

The All Saints flagship is the fortified wines and they are something Nick is particularly proud of. One of the major reasons the winery was purchased by Nick’s father was for the massive stock of aging fortified wine. They are aged in a solera system and each year a certain amount of wine is bottled and sold. With this system the wine can essentially age forever, allowing them to release a variety of aged wine every year. They have 4 releases of the Muscat and 3 of the Tokay. As the age of the wines increases the richness, complexity and smoothness develop. The Grand Muscat has a lovely smooth butterscotch flavour and tastes like it should be chilled and poured over icecream, though I’m not sure that would do it justice.

All Saints has recently released their “Museum” Muscat, this is made with fruit of an average age of about 80 years. Bottled in what looks more like a perfume bottled and individually numbered it sells for $1000 a bottle. Thankfully we had the opportunity to taste it. It’s hard to actually describe the flavours, but it is extremely rich and perfectly integrated. The liquid itself is extremely syrupy, a result of the 80 or so years of evaporation.

All in all, it was a really educational experience. Getting to know Nick was a please, he is a young wine producer on a course of action he wouldn’t have chosen. The decisions they are making for the winery are well measured and visionary. With the Browns and winemaker Dan Crane this century old winery couldn’t be in better hands.

More All Saints information

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369 Responses to “All Saints Rutherglen – Wine Tasting”

  1. The Death of a Local Hero – Randall’s Albert Park commented:

    […] and experienced some awesome wines that I probably would never have even considered through them. All Saints, By Farr, Teusner and Adam Foster to name the more memorable. They were hosted in the little […]