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Other Fortified

After a subdued performance in 2012 this was a good showing from the ‘oddities’ section of the fortified category with something for everyone

This is one of those oddball categories that attracts everything from Madeira to Rutherglen Muscat to Californian sweet vermouth. It’s been described (rather unfairly) as ‘a bit of a rogues’ gallery’ by tasters in the past, and certainly the medal count can vary wildly depending on what comes in.

Last year, for instance, saw a solitary Bronze, whereas a few years back our tasters swooned over three Golds and a Silver.

This year was definitely one of the better ones, with a Gold, three Silvers and a Bronze. It’s often been a hunting ground for good-value medals, but at £23 for a half-bottle, this year’s Gold-listed candidate – the superlative All Saints Grand Rutherglen Muscat – was one of the most expensive we’ve ever had in this section.

With its depth and concentration, there were no quibbles about its price, but the stand-out in terms of value for money was the Curatolo Arini Marsala – a ‘crisp, pure and elegant’ steal at under £10 a bottle.

Tasting a wide variety of fortifieds in one flight is, admittedly, difficult for our tasters, who find it hard to assess value for money. But the range of products on offer can provide its own stimulation, and one judge said he enjoyed the ‘really great intensity’ of the flight.

If there was a disappointment, it was the lack of Madeiras, which have done well here in the past, but our tasters didn’t allow this to dampen their spirits.

‘The quality was absolutely gorgeous,’ said team leader Richard Bampfield MW. ‘The ones that got medals, we all agreed on their quality.’

FOOTNOTE: while prices shown on the winning tasting notes relate to the size of bottle available, prices are normalised for 75cl for judging purposes.