Australian Wines: Fortified Wines and Stickies

by admin on August 9, 2011

Australia is known for its fortified wines which are often enjoyed as aperitifs or desserts. Also referred to as ‘liquid sunshine’, grapes are generally left on the vine for a substantially long period to allow the fruits to store more natural sugar while left to dry slightly. The resulting products are referred to as fortified Australian wines which are used as aperitifs or desserts.

In fortification, a small amount of brandy spirit is incorporated into partly fermented red win. As a result, the colours and flavours of the wine are retained regardless of its storage or treatment methods. After fortification, the wine is left to mature in oak barrels, usually for years. This gives fortified wine its characteristic immense depth and concentration of colour. Examples of fortified Australian wines include Muscat and Tawny.

Muscat fortified

Fermented Muscat Blanc Petit Grains juice is combined with grape spirit and left to mature in oak barrels. This type of wine which is grown and produced in Rutherglen district of Victoria is characterized by rich and mellow flavours. Muscats are further classified as:

  • Classic: with raisined fruit flavour, cask aged flavours and the beginnings of rancio character.
  • Grand: This type has a mature style and shows aged fruit flavour, rich cask aged character, and rancio character.
  • Rare: This type shows all the flavours of prolonged cask ageing such as lusciousness, extreme rancio and concentration

White fortifieds

White grape variety can also be fortified to produce fine, lighter textured, aromatic wines with varying levels of sweetness. White fortified Australian wine


Some Australian grape varieties can be used to make dessert wines. Dessert wines or “stickies” are made through a process involving fungus known as “botrytis cinerea” or noble rot. This fungus attacks the grape by drawing out moisture while intensifying the natural sugar concentration, acidity and fruit flavours. The resulting product is an intensely flavoured white wine, with a deep gold colour, sharp acid finish and a rich sweet flavour with hints of dried apricots. Because of its intense flavour, Australian fortified wine is often sold in half bottles.

There are two groups of stickies:

  • Late-harvest wines including Semillon, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Botrytis-affected styles: The fungus shrivels the grape and makes them sweet and juicy such as the Semillon and Riesling stickies.

Australian wines are also known for the dessert or stickies varieties often produced in the Riverina of New South Wales, the Margaret River, Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley, Tasmania and Western Australia’s Great Southern Region.

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