Wine Lists

Fortified wines to try for Easter

By Halliday Promotion

14 Mar, 2024

These five fortified wines are perfect for you to try this coming Easter. Add them to your list.

With Easter just around the corner, we're sure you're going to be eating a lot of chocolate. And what better to pair with it than Australian fortified wine

So what is fortified wine? Fortified wines are those that have had additional alcohol added to them by a grape spirit. This increases the alcohol content of the wine, and can also alter the flavour. Typically, grape spirit is added early in the fermentation, leaving the sugar unfermented and thus often resulting in a sweet wine. Occasionally however, the spirit is added at the end of fermentation, creating a dry-style wine like sherry or apera. 

Australian fortified wine has a long history, with notable regions including Rutherglen and Glenrowan in Victoria, the Riverina in New South Wales, and the Barossa and McLaren Vale in South Australia. Below we get to know five styles of Australian fortified wine from Buller Wines, Morris of Rutherglen, Drayton's Family Wines, Jones Winery and Scion Wines. Priced between $35–250, there's a range of wines here to cover all your fortified needs. 

Buller Wines

Buller Wines winemaker

Winemaker David Whyte says: I love producing the Calliope Rare Frontignac wine due to its unparalleled rarity. It is the product of over 50 years’ worth of hard work and craftsmanship which has developed into a wine that is synonymous with the Rutherglen region and the epitome of a rare fortified wine. 

H. What makes this fortified wine unique?
DW. Unlike our range of fortified wines, which are in a modified solera system, our Calliope Rare Frontignac is a single vintage. Hailing from two singular barrels with minimal intervention, the lusciousness of this wine is incredibly intense. With only these two barrels left, it certainly fits the name ‘rare’. It’s a labour intensive process and we undertake a lot of barrel inspections, but it’s worth every second.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
DW. As this wine has been in barrel for close to 56 years, there has been minimal intervention. Treated in the classic way of any old fortified wine – left to almost cook on the mezzanine (the hottest part) of our century-old winery. This creates a thick viscosity and intensity that you wouldn’t believe.

Wine to try

Buller fortified wine

1968 Buller Wines Calliope Rare Frontignac

The Calliope Rare Frontignac is a made from a single 1968 vintage rare wine. It presents a thick and luscious wine with concentrated complexity loaded with flavours of figs, cloves, caramel and sweet dates. 

Best enjoyed: This wine is best enjoyed by the fire on a cold winters night. If you’re wanting to have this in summer, we recommend slightly chilled with a little vanilla ice cream on the side. Alternatively, pair with blue cheese – the intensity of blue cheese is balanced by the sweetness of our Rare Frontignac. The contrast of the two bold flavours creates a balanced and incredibly satisfying pairing. 

RRP $250 | Drink now | Shop this wine |

Morris of Rutherglen

Morris winemaker

Chief winemaker Madden Morris says: At Morris Wines, we pride ourselves on our ability to produce some of the world’s finest fortified wines, perfected by six generations of winemakers over 160 years of winemaking history and tradition. The Cellar Reserve Grand range of fortified wines is characterised by a mature style with layers of rich flavour and complexity from time spent ageing gracefully in barrel.

H. What makes this fortified wine unique?
MM. The Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Topaque is matured for an average of 16 years in oak casks and barrels to develop richness, intensity and aged influence on the wine. This carefully crafted and complex wine is the epitome of Rutherglen’s expertise in fortified wine, with our style of topaque being unique to the region. 

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
MM. Morris of Rutherglen has always been invested in an uncomplicated, minimal intervention approach to winemaking; relying on the full-flavoured, generous Rutherglen fruit. What makes Morris’ fortified wines so special is the skill of blending new and old wine, especially being careful when working with and blending wines from past generations and select vintages. 

Wine to try

Morris fortified wine

NV Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Topaque, Rutherglen

Golden brown with subtle khaki hues, there are concentrated aromas of toffee and malt underlaid with a butterscotch lift and distinct nutty elements. With rich and intense flavours of toffee, mocha and soft caramel. There is a generous mid-palate and long, luscious finish.

Best enjoyed: This is a stunning after dinner wine that pairs exquisitely with any chocolate-based dessert.

RRP $80 | Drink now | Shop this wine |

Drayton's Family Wines

Drayton's Family winemaker

Winemaker Mark 'Smithy' Smith says: Drayton's Family Wines was established in 1853, and soon after begun crafting the finest fortified wines and liqueurs – a tradition it has maintained till the present day. Old Decanter is the perfect example of what a premium Australian aged tawny tastes like. 

H. What makes this fortified wine unique?
MS. The Old Decanter was aged in oak barrels in Drayton's solera system, which is over 100 years old. This wine was made from the finest fortified wines, some over 50 years old, to achieve an average blended age of 21 years.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
MS. We make our tawnys using the traditional Portuguese solera method. We fortify wines with the finest brandy and age them in old oak barrels to achieve smoothness and complexity of flavours.

Wine to try

Drayton's Family fortified bottle

Drayton's Family Wines Old Decanter

Rich nutty caramel aromas. Complex flavours of dried fruits, mocha coffee and hazelnuts.

Best enjoyed: This wine is best enjoyed as an after-dinner treat, on its own or with a coffee. Pair it with all desserts, dark chocolate, cheese platters, cakes, ice creams, salted roasted nuts and dried fruits. 

RRP $90 | Drink 2024–2098 | Shop this wine |

Jones Winery

Jones winemaker

Winemaker Mandy Jones says: This is a French-style aperitif that is light and aromatic. It is distinctly Australian, made with white grapes from Rutherglen. I'm a little cagey about giving too much away about my new party starter, but it is based on one of my favourite aperitif styles – Lillet. 

H. What makes this fortified wine unique?
MJ. CORRELL is named after our vivacious mother who, like us, embraced this wonderful tradition. It combines the two styles of traditional Rutherglen fortified and modern vermouths, making it a very appealingly flavoured wine that is expressly made to be a mixer or just enjoyed over ice. There is no other Rutherglen fortified-based wine quite like it. 

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
MJ. We pick the grapes at just the right amount of flavour and freshness that we like and fortify the base wine to have a final baumé of three. The aromatics are infused into the base wine.

Wine to try

Jones Correll fortified wine

Jones Winery CORRELL Blanc Aperitif

The botanicals included are orange, star anise and juniper. The base wine for this is made from pedro ximénes and ugni blanc (trebbiano).

Best enjoyed: We recommend serving it chilled, over ice or in a CORRELL cocktail, in the company of family and good friends. The perfect verandah wine! One of the great traditions is the aperitif – the time to relax, reflect, watch the world go by and prepare your taste buds for what is coming up next.

RRP $42 | Drink now | Shop this wine |

Scion Wine

Scion winemaker

Winemaker Rowly Milhinch says: Made from 100 per cent durif grapes from a single vintage, fortified by neutral spirit, it's a fresh, delicate dessert wine inspired by the Banyuls region in Southern France. The ideal Easter sipper, as dark chocolate offers the perfect foil to the sweetness of the wine.

H. What makes this fortified wine unique?
RM. After Dark is a vibrant expression of a Rutherglen fortified, in the sense that it offers far less sweetness and alcohol than is typical. Made with grapes from a single vintage, use of a neutral fortifying spirit and stainless steel maturation all allow the fruit and seasonality to do the talking.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
RM. The durif is handpicked from our estate vineyard (Linlithgow), destemmed and wild fermented in open concrete fermenters. Fortification by neutral spirit and matured in stainless steel. 

Wine to try

Scion fortified wine

2022 Scion After Dark

Scion’s signature fortified durif: semi-sweet, vibrant and clean with characters of cherry, plum and chocolate.

Best enjoyed: Serve chilled, with 70 per cent dark chocolate. The bitterness in the chocolate offers the perfect foil for the sweetness of the wine. Or if it's cocktail hour, fix yourself an After Dark negroni: mix 30ml After Dark (replacing vermouth) + 30ml gin + 30ml aperol (replacing campari) over ice and garnish with orange.

RRP $35 | Drink to 2034+ | Shop this wine |