I love sweet wines, but I don't love them all. Those that I do love, I don't love all the time. This one carries the qualities that do make me drink sweet - flavor, balanced sweetness and acidity.
Winemaker Mike Brown is Australia-born, but now operates out of Santa Barbara County's Santa Ynez Valley. His dessert wines have been favorites at our house for a number of years, and the little bottle of Muscat pictured and written about here was purchased at the winery on our first visit there, a number of years ago.
This one is a non-vintage wine, and it appears to be slightly different than the current offering in that it has a little more kick to it. This one hits 18% abv, while the current Kalyra Muscat comes in at 16%. It's made from Black Muscat grapes and is fortified with brandy. Also, this older bottle is described on the label as a "product of Australia," while the current product is sourced from Madera County, in California's Central Valley.
The Kalyra website says that the wine has been "aged in the Solero style, which is quite common practice in some regions, particularly in Australia." Brown says it is "best paired with contrasting flavors like French Vanilla Bean ice cream or crème brulée."
The wine's color is dark brick red, almost brown, like a red with some age on it. The nose is heavily laden with alcohol (18% abv) and raisiny caramel notes. It smells like liqueur or sherry with a shot of cognac back. The palate is just as rich. Thicker, it might be molasses; sweeter, it could pass for raisin pudding. The caramel notes are burnt just right and the acidity is rippingly fantastic.