Happy Birthday Durif – Rutherglen’s legendary red wine!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Durif was first planted in the famous Rutherglen wine region in 1908, which means the variety is having a very special birthday this year, its one hundredth year.

The variety was recommended by Francois de Castella, the Victorian Government’s viticultural expert, who brought the variety back to Australia following a study tour of France. Now, after 100 years of family winemaking experience with the variety, Durif is proudly Rutherglen’s legendary red wine.

No other winegrape in Australia has created such a strong association with a single region than Durif’s symbiotic relationship with Rutherglen – except for Rutherglen Muscat – so it comes as no surprise that local winemakers are marking the Centenary of Rutherglen Durif with a celebratory weekend on 2-3 August to acknowledge the variety’s important role in shaping the local wine industry. A major focus of the weekend is a grand black tie seven course, degustation dinner on Saturday 2 August appropriately being staged at All Saints Estate, site of the region’s first nursery where the Durif cuttings were prepared for planting in 1908. Guests of Honour will be Will de Castella, grandson of Francois together with his wife Heather. The regionally inspired degustation menu will be matched to a selection of Rutherglen’s finest wines, showcasing premium and back vintage releases of Durif and Rutherglen fortifieds – no surprise there! Cost is $160 per person.

Another outstanding highlight will be the Rutherglen Muscat Masterclass on Sunday morning, 3 August. This two hour session will be in two parts, starting with a tutored tasting by Rutherglen’s legendary Muscat producers, showcasing the four unique Rutherglen Muscat Classifications and matched with selections of food demonstrating the remarkable versatility of the wines. Following this you can try your hand at the winemaker’s art and create your own perfect blend using young and maturing Muscat stocks! The masterclass is an irresistible activity providing a fascinating insight into this unique and internationally famous wine – an experience unavailable in any other wine region. Lunch is included and the cost is $40 per person.

Also over the August weekend, wineries will be conducting special activities such as barrel tastings of young wines and ‘Reflections of Durif’, featuring current release and older Durif wines demonstrating how they evolve and mature with bottle age. The ability of Rutherglen Durif to age gracefully is one of the variety’s notable attributes, so these free tasting sessions around the various cellar doors are an opportunity not to be missed.



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