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.
|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|