"Miracle Makers

ALL SAINTS IN NORTH-EASTERN Victoria is one of Australia’s most instantly recognisable wineries. The old
castle-like building and cellars date back to 1864 and were modelled on the Castle of Mey in Scotland.

And for much of its 150-year history, it was synonymous with the fabulous liqueur muscats and tokays, which
established the region as the world’s greatest producer of this rich and luscious form of fortified wine.

But times change. Fortified wine sales plummeted and the old place fell on tough times before initially being acquired by a private group from the Sutherland Smith family, who owned it from the start, and, finally, by the Brown family of Milawa in 1992.

These days, it is run by fourth-generation Browns: Eliza, Angela and Nicholas, who are continuing the winery’s
transformation — both from a production perspective, and in bringing the magnificent building to life while retaining the character that is such an important part of the regional scape.

In line with current trends, only 10 per cent of its wine is fortified, with the balance a range of table wines led by the distinctive and perfectly suited marsanne and durifs.

However, chief executive Eliza Brown says fortifieds remained an important part of business. “More people are
coming here based on our table-wine reputation these days but still buying the fortifieds for special occasions,” she says. “It’s extremely important to maintain the history of the fortifieds. It’s very difficult for our accountant to see any justification in fortifieds, due to storage costs, evaporation and labour but Angela, Nick and I see it as our duty to maintain and build the quality of the soleras (process for ageing wine) for many generations to come. It’s a little piece of Australian history that we won’t sell off.”

Rutherglen has a hot climate ideally suited to marsanne and durif. Marsanne is distinctive for its textural and complex palate, and ages well. There have been some horror durifs from this region but now, with better vineyard management and more sympathetic winery treatment, the wines have
greater refinement and drinkability.

All Saints has two levels of each of these styles: the standard entry level and the Family Cellar Reserve. The standard is relatively easy to find but you will probably have to get your favourite local bottle shop to get some of the Family Cellar Reserves in for you. They are well worth it. For more information, see allsaintswine.com.au.

1. All Saints Family Cellar Reserve marsanne 2009 ($30)  (SOLD OUT - View other vintages available)
This was an initially hot vintage, which then settled down. The wine is more restrained but I like the spicy vanillin and slightly citrusy characters. The palate, which will build over time, is dominated by a mix of mace and cloves. 95/100 (Best drinking: Now-2022. Alc: 13.8%)

2. All Saints Family Cellar Reserve durif 2008 ($65)
Rich, ripe, round and full. Has a distinctive vineyard character striking through the palate, with a dusty, minerally edge. Generous with violets and blueberry. It’s fully ripe, with the oak and fruit neatly integrated.
93/100 (Best drinking: Now-2024. Alc: 14.5%)

3. All Saints Estate durif 2012 ($28)
A juicy bomb that has been picked a little later to capture the fruity essence of this variety and deliver it with subtle refinement. The faintest hint of oak remains seamless through the palate. Perfect wine for Italian or Spanish-style food. 90/100 (Best drinking: Now-2019. Alc: 12.4%)

4. All Saints Estate marsanne 2012 ($22)  (SOLD OUT - View other vintages available)
This is a lighter, brighter marsanne with punchy flavours that capture the fragrant citrus and peachy characters of this variety. The palate has a delightful citrus tang. Zingy fine acid sustains the finish admirably. 91/100. (Best drinking: Now- 2018. Alc: 12.4%)"

Ray Jordan, The Weekend West Magazine, 21 June 2014