The latest edition of db’s Fortified Masters showed what great quality wines producers are making across the board, with 20% of entries being awarded Masters and one third of the entrants being given a Gold medal. By Patrick Schmitt MW.
Few drinks deliver as much pleasure for the price as fortified wines. A combination of grapes, brandy and barrels, not forgetting, of course, expert blenders, yields wines that are high in quality and complexity, but, primarily due to their unfashionable status, low in price, particularly if one compares them with the great wines from Bordeaux or Burgundy, or, indeed, the aged malts and Cognacs of Scotland and France respectively. This mix of a fine product at an accessible price makes fortified wine so appealing for professionals – and should make them a major draw for those outside the trade too.
|What did the judges think?
|MATTHIEU LONGUÈRE MS
“The tasting confirmed the incredible consistency and value of the category as a whole. I really enjoyed the Colheita Port: as a Port style, it was definitely the most consistent with awards for only Silver and above, and really good value for wines that have been aged for so long before release.”SARAH JANE EVANS MW
“The tasting completely opened my eyes to the potential of Rivesaltes, which is a glorious wine that hides its years beautifully. The Gérard Bertrand legend Vintage Rivealtes sang out in the blind tasting. The Osborne AOS Solera VOS was terrific – superbly balanced, gloriously punchy and intense, and the Kopke 1957 was alively treat, full of energy.”EWAN MURRAY “I’m a fan of fortified wines in general, as long as the alcohol doesn’t dominate. It’s a tricky balance for many, but in this tasting the alcohol was almost always warming, rather than burning. I have a penchant for Colheita tawny and for Madeira, and the examples on show were stunning. They are two oftoverlooked categories by those not in the know, providing great pleasure and generally good value for money.”
Proof that this drinks category is home to such outstanding blends was shown in this year’s Fortified Masters, which yielded an exceptional eight Masters, representing a record 20% of the entries. Not only that, but as many as one third of the products assessed blind gained a Gold, and the same amount a Silver, making fortified wine the most highly awarded category in our extensive competition line-up, which includes upmarket areas such as Champagne and expressive grapes like Pinot Noir. As Matthieu Longuère MS commented after the day’s tasting: “The Fortified Masters confirmed the incredible consistency and value of the category as a whole,” adding, “I guess, as these are not the commercial successes they used to be, producers really have to focus on the quality, and it showed – all the wines got a medal.”
Similarly, another judge, Sarah Jane Evans MW, said: “It was a lovely tasting – there’s nothing better than spending a day among fortified treasures.”