Top 10 fortified wines from the Global Masters
We count down the ten top-performing samples from db’s Fortified Masters competitions, taking in sensational wines from Australia to Portugal.
While today’s trends may be focused on finding low-calorie and reduced-alcohol options in the world of drinks, those in the wine trade know well that the ultimate in drinking pleasure comes at the opposite end of the spectrum: products that are richly flavoured, often sweet, and with a warming spirit-sourced edge to them. Such drinks are known collectively as fortified wines.
However, as with any category, even if home to some of the globe’s most delicious drinks, there are variations in style and quality, hence the need to asses them, using experience palates.
With this in mind, once again we held a Fortified Masters blind tasting earlier this year, as part of our Global Masters series, taking in key wine styles.
While this competition always sees a high medal count, we have picked out the top performers, those wines with plenty of personality, and a balancing spirit influence, rather than a dominating heat.
We’ve also added to these with a few fortifieds from former tastings to give a greater geographic scope for the following top 10.
So read on to find out which are the best of their types in a range of categories, from Port and Madeira to Sherry, taking in a broad sweep of regions and nations, including France, Spain and Portugal, and not forgetting Australia too.
10. Tio Pepe, Dos Palmas Fino, Jerez, Spain
9. Barão de Vilar, 20 Years Old Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal
8. Ramos Pinto, 20 Year Old Tawny, Quinta do Bom Retiro, Douro, Portugal
7. Henriques & Henriques Madeira, Verdelho 20 year old, Portugal
6. Madeira Pereira d’Oliveira, Boal, 1988, Portugal
“Wow”. That was the first comment from the judges, having tasted this 30-year-old Boal from d’Oliveira. Richly sweet but with Madeira’s hallmark freshness, this is a lovely example of caramelised wine in peak condition. Ideal on its own, with cheese or fruit-based puddings.
5. De Bortoli Wines, Black Noble, Australia
4. Bodegas Arfe, Palo Cortado de la Cruz de 1767, Jerez, Spain
3. Bodegas Osborne, Very Old Sherry, Amontillado, Solera, AOS, Jerez, Spain
2. Penfolds, Great Grandfather, Rare tawny, Australia
1. Gérard Bertrand, Legend Vintage Rivesaltes, 1974
About the competition
The Fortified Masters is a competition created and run by the drinks business, and is an extension of its successful Masters series for grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as regions from Rioja to Chianti.
The competition is exclusively for fortified wines, and the entries were judged by highly experienced tasters using Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic glasses supplied by Wine Sorted.
The top fortified wines were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those entries that stood out as being outstanding received the ultimate accolade – the title of Fortified Master.
For further information on the Global Masters, including how to enter, please call +44 (0)20 7803 2420 or email Sophie Raichura at: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the tasting process
All the entries are tasted blind, ensuring that the judges have no knowledge of the identity of each wine beyond its price band and basic style.
Once a score for each wine from every judge has been revealed, and the reasons for the result given, the chair of each judging group will compile an average score, and award medals accordingly.
Each wine is scored on the 100-point scale, with pre-set scoring bands corresponding to the medals awarded, which range from Bronze to Gold, and Master – the ultimate accolade, awarded only to outstanding samples. The judges are told to consider the resulting medal when assigning their score.
The bands are as follows: 85-88 – Bronze; 89-92 – Silver; 93-96 – Gold; 97-100 – Master.
Although the judges are tough, they are accurate and consistent, and the open judging process allows for debate and the revision of initial assessments.
Within the style and price category, the judges are looking for appropriate flavours – be they attributable to the vineyard or the winemaking processes. They are also in search of complexity, intensity and persistence at levels expected of the style and price band. In particular, the judges will reward wines highly if they have both balance and personality.
Thanks to the quality of the judges and the sampling process, the Global Masters provides an unrivalled chance to draw attention to hidden gems, as well as confirm the excellence of the renowned.