In terms of world-famous wines, it’s impossible not to respectfully mention the region of Rutherglen, Victoria and in particular Buller Wines’ rare collection of fortified wines. Aged for 40 years, the Rare range of tokay, muscat and frontignac are simply astonishing wines, unrivalled in their category. Very few wines receive a full 100 points from leading US wine critic Robert Parker. He awarded the Tokay its 100 point score in October 2005, and the Muscat in August 2003.

So what makes a 100-point fortified, I hear you ask? Absolute brilliance and out-of-this-world aromatics that hook you in and fascinate virtually endlessly! It has a wild and rich bouquet of toffee, stewed prunes, figs and honeyed caramel, a magnificent richness that extends to the palate.

On the tongue the wine is velvety, thick and ultra-luscious. Now I taste melted caramels, coffee, more toffee, stewed Christmas cake fruits (prunes, dates, black currants and raisins) and aged cognac flavours, all integrated to perfection. Robert Parker notes that the ‘finish is huge and lasts up to 70 seconds’. I clocked this and discovered he was bang on. I was still revelling in those wonderful flavours at 70 seconds; the deep back-palate sweetness hung in there even longer, up to 80 seconds. Madness!

Parker also notes: ‘Readers just need to be aware that these fortifieds must be tasted to be believed as they are among the world’s most profound after-dinner fortified wines.’

I can only agree, as there is something outlandishly gobsmacking about tasting these ancient wines. Beautiful, delightful, timeless and in a very good way, just a touch beserk!

Eton Mess with Buller Wines Calliope Rare Tokay cream
Recipe: Megan Chalmers

Walnut Meringue

Use your favourite meringue recipe to make a six egg-white meringue, then fold through 80 grams of toasted, crushed walnuts.

Tokay Vanilla Cream

200ml thickened cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp Buller Wines Calliope Rare Tokay
½ a vanilla bean, seeds scraped


Whisk cream until thickened, then fold through remaining ingredients.

Blueberry and Blackberry Thyme Compote

¼ cup sugar
6 tbsp water
300g mixed blueberry and blackberries
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Juice of 1 lemon


1. In a medium saucepan add sugar, water, vanilla bean and seeds and thyme sprigs. Stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves.

2. Add berries and stir. Continue to cook over a low heat for approximately five minutes.

3. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, stir through and allow to cool before serving.

To Serve

Layer meringue, tokay vanilla cream and berry compote in a wineglass or serving dish, serve immediately.

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