Fortified Masters medal winners released
The results of db’s inaugural Fortified Masters have been released, highlighting the quality of aged tawny Port, very old Sherries as well as Australia’s best barrel aged fortifieds.
Conducted last month at the offices of the Institute of Masters of Wine in London, the Fortified Masters saw judges taste their way through almost 100 entries from around the world to award a range of medals, from the highest accolade of master, to gold, silver and bronze, based on scores out of 100.
Blind tasting can of course either destroy or confirm prior views of a product or category, but in the case this competition, it managed to do both.
It verified the tasters’ belief in the quality of fortified wines from Spain and Portugal, and it overturned any feeling that Australia and South Africa can’t produce rich and age-worthy fortified wines of a high standard too.
At times the day’s tasting also brought broad grins to the judges’ faces, quite simply because certain submissions were so delicious, it was hard not to hide the pleasure caused just from assessing them.
Those scoring over 95 points – gaining the top title of “master” – were aged tawnies, Sherries and Madeiras. In particular, Barbadillo gained two masters for its 30 year-old Amontillado and Obispo Gascon Palo Cortado, which were both incredibly complex dry Sherries crying out for a bowl of nuts, some bright sun and preferably a deck chair too.
Then there were the tawny Ports, which, with their richly sweet core and lingering dried fruit flavours, scored extremely highly. Two examples, both using wines with over 40 years in cask, were declared Masters, as well as one 20 year-old from the Roederer-owned Ramos Pinto.
A further Master then went to Justino’s, for its Colheita Madeira, which delighted the judges for its caramelised character combined with a refreshing citrus peel freshness.
Fortified Masters 2013: The Masters
|Ramos Pinto Quinta Do Bom Retiro 20 year-old tawny Port||Master|
|Porto Gran Cruz 40 year-old tawny Port||Master|
|Kopke Colheita 1966 tawny Port||Master|
|Barbadillo Amontillado 30 year-old Sherry||Master|
|Barbadillo Obispo Gascon Palo Cortado Sherry||Master|
|Justino’s Madeira Colheita 1996||Master|
As for the golds, these also reflected the quality available among the aged tawnies, Madeiras and Sherries, while the medal tally further highlighted the value in the single quinta vintage Port category, with Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos 2001 earning a gold, alongside the just released 2011 classic vintage from Sandeman.
The tasting also drew the tasters’ attention to the quality possibilities in Manzanilla, with Hidalgo’s aged single vineyard example called Pasada Pastrana gaining a gold too.
Then, among the high scorers such as Burmester’s 40 year-old Tawny was the unctuous and deliciously concentrated Penfolds Great Grandfather Rare Tawny – a fortified wine first released by the famous Australian producer in 1994 to celebrate Penfolds’ 150th anniversary.
But that wasn’t the only Aussie to get a gold – Rutherglen’s Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat also managed to score extremely highly for its immensely sweet, complex wine, which has spent well over 20 years in cask.
Fortified Masters 2013: Gold medal winners
|Burmester Tordiz 40 year old tawny||Gold|
|Penfolds Great Grandfather Rare tawny||Gold|
|Fernando de Castilla Antique Oloroso||Gold|
|D’Oliveiras Madeira 15 year old||Gold|
|Sandeman Vintage 2011||Gold|
|Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Tokay||Gold|
|Senhora do Convento Vintage 2009||Gold|
|Blandy’s Terrantez 20 year old||Gold|
|Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos 2001||Gold|
|Dalva Porto 20 year old||Gold|
|Bodegas Hidalgo Pasada Pastrana Manzanilla||Gold|
|Barbadillo La Cilla Pedro Ximenez||Gold|
|D’Oliveiras Madeira Verdelho 1985||Gold|
|Morris Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat||Gold|
The silvers meanwhile were awarded a wide range of fortified wines, with Graham’s Six Grapes scoring highly, as well as the aged tawnies from Australia’s Grant Burge.
Two finos also picked up silvers – Tio Pepe’s En Rama and Fernando de Castilla’s Antique – while Taylor’s featured prominently, gaining medals for its LBV 2008, Single Quinta 2001 and 10 year-old Tawny.
Australia’s d’Arenberg also gained silver medals for its fortified Shiraz from 2006 and its Nostalgia rare tawny.
Fortified Masters 2013: Silver medal winners
|Krohn Colheita 1982||Silver|
|Penfolds Grandfather Fine Old Liqueur tawny||Silver|
|Fernando de Castilla Antique Fino||Silver|
|Sandeman 20 year old tawny||Silver|
|Grant Burge 10 year old tawny||Silver|
|Grant Burge 20 year old tawny||Silver|
|d’Arenberg Nostalgia rare tawny NV||Silver|
|Tio Pepe Fino En Rama||Silver|
|Porto Gran Cruz Vintage 1996||Silver|
|Grant Burge Liqueur Muscat||Silver|
|Graham’s Six Grapes||Silver|
|Pintas Vintage Port 2011||Silver|
|The Wine Society’s Exhibition Viejo Oloroso Dulce||Silver|
|Stanton & Killeen Rutherglen Muscat||Silver|
|Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 2001||Silver|
|Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage 2008||Silver|
|Sandeman LBV 2008||Silver|
|Taylor’s 10 year old tawny||Silver|
|Dalva Porto Colheita 1971 Golden White Port||Silver|
|d’Arenberg Vintage Fortified Shiraz 2006||Silver|
|Justino’s Madeira Verdelho 10 year old||Silver|
Finally, bronze medals were awarded to a broad array of entries, including a Vin Santo Liquoroso from Santo Wines in Santorini; a 20 year-old white Port from Kopke; a botrytised, fortified Semillon from De Bortoli called Black Noble 10 year old, and a Pink Port from Croft, among others.
Overall, the Fortified Masters drew the tasters’ attention to the character and complexity on offer among the world’s great fortified wines.
And such is the quality available, it’s only sad that these great fortified wines don’t attract a wider audience, although this does mean that they represent extremely good value.
Fortified Masters 2013: Bronze medal winners
|Barros Porto Reserve Tawny||Bronze|
|Barbadillo Manzanilla Solear||Bronze|
|Morris Classic Liqueur Muscat||Bronze|
|Santo Wines Vinsanto Vin De Liqueur De Raisin Passerille||Bronze|
|Senhora do Convento Ruby Special Reserve||Bronze|
|Late Bottled Vintage 2008||Bronze|
|Kopke White 20 year old Porto||Bronze|
|De Bortoli Black Noble 10 year old||Bronze|
|Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Port||Bronze|
|Graham’s 20 year old tawny||Bronze|
|Monis Muscadel 2004||Bronze|
|De Bortoli Show Liqueur 8 year old Muscat||Bronze|
|Senhora do Convento Late Bottled Vintage 2003||Bronze|
|De Bortoli ‘Old Boys’ 21 year old tawny||Bronze|
|Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla||Bronze|
|Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Unfiltered 2007||Bronze|
|d’Arenberg vintage fortified 2007||Bronze|
|Grant Burge aged tawny||Bronze|
|Blandy’s Alvada 5 year old||Bronze|
|Grant Burge 10 year old Muscat||Bronze|
The judges were selected for their wine tasting experience, high regard in the trade, as well as expertise in the fortified wine sector. We chose a range of personalities to reflect different sectors, from the on-trade to off-trade, as well as those with a background in wine education and commentary. On the judging panel were the following people:
Nick Room, wine buyer, Waitrose
Lucy Clements, product development manager, Tesco
Godfrey Spence, wine educator and writer / fortified wine specialist
Ewan Murray, tastings manager, The Wine Society
Joris Beijn, sommelier and consultant
Dawn Davies, wine buyer, Selfridges
Patrick Schmitt, editor-in-chief, the drinks business
About the competition
The Fortified Masters is a competition created and run by the drinks business and it is an extension of its successful Masters series for spirits and Champagne. The competition is exclusively for fortified wine and almost 100 entries were judged by a selection of experienced tasters using Riedel Chianti/Riesling glasses supplied by Sensible Wine Services.
The fortified wines were scored out of 100, with those gaining over 95 points awarded the top title of Master. Those earning over 90 points were given a gold, those over 85 a silver and those over 80 a bronze.
The fortified wines were tasted over the course of one day on 30 May at the Institute of Masters of Wine.