The Swan Valley is home to many outstanding wines, red, white, rosé and sparkling, but the most glorious you will find are the “stickies”, fortified wines of a uniquely Australian style. Brandy spirit added to the wine during the fermentation of late picked grapes results in wines of extraordinary character sweet, unctuous and multi-layered.
Many are made in the solera style where each year’s release is a blend of wine which has been matured over half a century or more, others are single year vintages and the grapes used may be white or red, the most common being Muscat, Pedro Ximenez, Muscadelle, Verdelho, Frontignac and Shiraz.
These wines have intensely seductive aromatics and a luscious opulence on the palate that has to be tasted to be believed. They are multi-award winning wines of great finesse that every wine lover should try.
Talijancich Wines is a good starting point. They are something of fortified specialists, with simply stunning wines. 1961 Julian James Reserve Muscat, carefully blended from wine over 50 years old, has a fragrance of dried raisins and chocolate, while the palate is reminiscent of Christmas cake, nuts and allspice. 1974 Rare Pedro Solera blended from the best vintages from 1974 to 2001 is another wine of great complexity treacly and oozing flavours of honey, toffee and dried fruit.
Olive Farm Wines, originally established in South Guildford in 1829 and in the Yurisich family since 1933, is home to one of the most dazzling of the Valley’s fortified Stari 4 Generations, with wine made by four generations of the family and a blend of Muscat, Verdelho, Muscadelle and Pedro Ximenez. This has intense aromas of golden syrup, toffee and raisins, and a rich, concentrated palate alive with flavours of honey, chocolate, liquorice, caramel and nuts. Olive Farm has a great array of fortified wines and the presentation in beautifully designed bottles is very special.
John Kosovich Wines, established in 1922 and the third oldest winery in the Valley, produces the prized Rare Muscat, a blend of vintages from 1974 to 1996. Try this in their underground tasting cellar and experience something outstanding - toffee, honey, dried raisins, vanilla, liquorice, chocolate, coffee all these aromas and flavours, and more, are present.
Windy Creek, with a lovely new cellar door, is a must, with an excellent range of very affordable wines. The Golden Tawny with its superb honey apricot flavours is a standout, and never pass up the opportunity to try Toffee Topaz with its coffee, caramello koala, dried raisins and liquorice.
Nielson Estate don’t have a cellar door but a call will get you in for a taste and a yarn with Jim Neilson. Try his Muscat Frontignac blend, fragrant with hints of Turkish Delight, and the palate showing honey, raisins and chocolate.
But this has been but a taster, there are many more wineries with magnificent examples of this celebrated Swan Valley style - so go exploring and discover something extraordinary.