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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > Sweet Wines

Winner Details

Sweet Wines 

2016 Gold: 8 Silver: 10 Bronze: 2 Commended: 5
2015 Gold: 7 Silver: 10 Bronze: 2 Commended: 6

Giving a team of tired sommeliers a flight of stickies at the end of the day is rather like giving knackered children a bag of Haribo for finishing their homework: it’s amazing how quickly jaded palates perk up once there’s a bit of sugar involved.

And some of these wines were outrageously sweet – the ice wine flight, in particular, should probably have been sponsored by Colgate – but happily the sugar was backed up with lots and lots of complexity and, for the most part, balance.

There are a plethora of amazingly good wines here across the medals – and they’re not always expensive either. The Critics' Choice-winning Mena Hweg (no, we don’t know how to pronounce it either) was an extraordinarily lovely bottle of almost ethereal beauty at a stand-out price. The team at Sommelier’s Choice have a little cracker there.

Sure, these wines aren’t necessarily easy to sell themselves, and you might need to take a hit on the margin, but as several of our tasters pointed out, even a glass of sticky at the end of the night can be viewed as a nice added bonus for you and a memorable extra for your customers.

FROM THE TASTING TEAMS

‘The thing about sweet is that at the highest level while we understand the technicality, the public doesn’t know how low the yields are and what it takes to make them. Once it is tied to something, people get it. If someone comes to you and suggested this cheese or pudding with that – that is what people want.’ Martin Lam, team leader

‘By the bottle, it’s only the cheapest or the most expensive that sells. You always have to take a hit on the margin with sweet wine, but it’s an extra sale.’ Jonathan Kleeman, Social Eating House

‘Very few restaurants outside of London would be able to list the Icewines.’ Claire Love, consultant

‘We tend to sell wines on the lighter side like Riesling, because it works with Chinese food a bit better.’ Tobias Brauweiler MS, Hakkasan Group

‘People tend to finish the meal with a whisky. To sell sweet wines, the only way is to talk about matches with a dessert; they need to be quoted on the dessert menu.’ Stefano Pirondi, Bread Street Kitchen

‘A gorgeous, sexy, sumptuous flight, brimming full of quality. If you’re in the right place you can sell Icewines, but they’re expensive.’ Robert Mason, Cheese at Leadenhall

“The ice wines were delicious. A treat. Such wonderfully made wines. We sell a couple, but because of the price points they don’t move much.” Sunaina Sethi, JKS Restaurants

“To sell sweet wines, you’ve got to do staff training, but you get the rewards from it.” Charles Van Wyk, FJB Collection

“They’re not cheap, but there’s quality behind them. The benefit is that you can open them and keep them in the fridge for days.” Olivier Marie, team leader

FOOTNOTE: This section includes botrytis and non-botrytis wines, ice wine and red sweet wines, but nothing fortified. While prices shown on these pages relate to the size of bottle on sale, for judging purposes prices were given for the 75cl equivalent volume.

Award winners

Found 25 wines

Sweet Wines

Inniskillin, Riesling Icewine, 2014, Niagara Peninsula , Canada

Gold medal winner

Hakkasan London's Diana Rollan was taken with this Gold winner's complexity: 'Luscious, ripe, balanced and elegant, showing mushroomy, concentrated, peachy, dried apricot and marmalade fruit.' 'Well made, decadent, peachy and complex,' agreed JKS Restaurants' Sunaina Sethi. 'It's unctuously intense, with oodles of tropical fruit. Crystallised heaven,' said team leader Angela Reddin, while Bubbledog's Sandia Chang noted that the palate had a 'steely minerality and strangely juicy, fruity nature'. Impressive. £39.95/37.5cl

£39.95 Liberty Wines

Ca'Rugate, L'Ermita, Recioto della Valpolicella, 2012, Veneto , Italy

Gold medal winner

Complexity and length took L'Ermita to the top. 'Pleasant herbal notes an hints of the garrigue alongside small red berries, ripe but firm tannins, backed by spicy notes of cloves and pepper on a juicy palate,' said Laurent Chaniac of Cinnamon Club. 'Rich, concentrated, dried red fruits with secondary and tertiary notes of leather, cured meats and sweet cedar spices,' added FJB Collection's Charles Van Wyk, while Avenue Restaurant's Andrés Ituarte added: 'Stony character mixes with jammy dark fruits and a touch of tar.' £22.19/50cl

£22.19 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Istvàn Szepsy, Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos, 2007, Tokaj , Hungary

Gold medal winner

Richness, honey, freshness – Istvàn Szepsy weaves his magic with this Gold winner. 'Marmalade, honey, curd, with a deep orange colour, there's enough fruit cutting through to keep things fresh. Very good,' said Bar 44's Owen Morgan. Laure Patry of Social Wine & Tapas found mandarin character on the nose with a palate 'very sweet, low on acidity but good freshness mid-palate', while Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs felt it was 'very exotic and complex, with tertiary nutty flavours'. 'Perfect with hard cheese,' was team leader Annette Scarfe MW's tip. And we suspect a manner of other dishes. £67.16/50cl

£67.16 Top Selection Ltd

Nederburg, Winemaster's Reserve, Noble Late Harvest, 2014, Western Cape , South Africa

Gold medal winner

With its balance, orange zest freshness and good value, this was a popular Gold winner. 'Classic marmalade, confit orange aromas, floral and honeyed with lots of sweetness on the palate and good balance,' said Laure Patry of Social Wine & Tapas. 'Lasting flavour of more than just sugar, and rather complex on the palate,' added Devon Pryor of Blandford Comptoir. £10.98/37.5cl

£10.98 Matthew Clark

Peller Estates, Riesling Icewine, 2013, Niagara Peninsula , Canada

Gold medal winner

'Thrilling purity of fruit!' began team leader Anne Krebiehl MW, illustrating how Peller scored its second ice wine Gold, while Robert Mason of Cheese at Leadenhall put it equally simply: 'Baked apples with typicity. Gorgeous.' Team leader Angela Reddin was more verbose: 'Honeycomb and marmalade. Apricot jam in the mouth. Creamy length. A definite food match for panna cotta.' £29.53/37.5cl

£29.53 Enotria&Coe

Willi Opitz, Opitz One, Schilfwein, 2010, Burgenland , Austria

Gold medal winner

'Delicious coffee bean notes with a luscious and fresh mid-palate,' said team leader Annette Scarfe MW, with Andrea Domenicucci of Whatley Manor succinctly summarising how this took Gold: 'Beautiful sweet style, extraordinary finish.' Elly Owen of Fifteen Cornwall went further: 'Raisiny and pruny, with burnt caramel notes on the nose, continuing to the palate, balanced by good fruit.' £26.83/37.5cl

£26.83 Matthew Clark

Knightor, Mena Hweg, 2013, Cornwall, England

Gold medal winner Critics Choice

A delicate delight offering seriously good value, this entranced all who had the chance to taste, making it a very worthy Critics Choice Trophy winner. 'Light and sweet, with red apple and moderate acids, simple and a touch floral,' said Andrés Ituarte of Avenue Restaurant, adding: 'Very delicate with lychee juice, tropical notes and a slight spritz.' Owen Morgan of Bar 44 picked up petroleum hints on the slight tropical nose, with 'enough acidity to refresh and freshen'. £7.45/75cl

£9.50 Sommelier's Choice

Peller Estates, Vidal Icewine, 2014, Niagara Peninsula , Canada

Gold medal winner

The beginning of the Eiswein Gold hat-trick sees Vidal elevated to the podium. 'Peachy apricot, waxy, concentrated aromas, sweet and luscious on the palate, ripe and rounded, but delicate and balanced with refreshing acidity,' said Diana Rollan of Hakkasan London. 'Decadent, ripe, lovely balance,' added JKS Restaurants' Sunaina Sethi, with an impressed Sandia Chang of Bubbledogs saying: 'Grilled pineapple skins with thyme, mango and puckering acidity on the palate. Great with grilled peaches and mascarpone.' Mmm! £25.98/37.5cl

£25.98 Enotria&Coe

Errazuriz, Late Harvest, Sauvignon Blanc, 2014, Casablanca Valley , Chile

Silver medal winner

With its 'floral grapefruit peel' aromas, team leader Annette Scarfe MW found this wine 'clean and lush, with melon and abundant sugar on the finish', while Richard Brooks of Caroline Catering said: 'Intense and delicious, good with all kinds of desserts.' £6.08/37.5cl

£6.08 Hatch Mansfield

Béres, Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos, 2007, Tokaj , Hungary

Silver medal winner

'Lots of botrytis on the nose and palate, but has complexity, length and good acidity,' began team leader Martin Lam, with Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs also finding notes of 'bread, ginger and cinnamon' on the palate of this oaky style of sweetie. £28.61/50cl

£28.61 Matthew Clark

Inniskillin, Gold, Vidal Icewine, 2013, Niagara Peninsula , Canada

Silver medal winner

'Delicate and elegant, honeyed with dried apricot and clementine notes on the nose,' began Diana Rollan of Hakkasan London, continuing: 'Purity of fruit with luscious balance, long and complex on the finish.' 'There's apples and peaches, honey and lemongrass,' added an impressed Rossano Antonelli of Hawksmoor Air Street. £34.27/37.5cl

£34.27 Liberty Wines

Willi Opitz, Welschriesling, Eiswein, 2011, Burgenland , Austria

Silver medal winner

'Gorgeous style, with nutty, juicy, minerally aromas leading to a complex palate with orange blossom and thyme herbal notes, finishing nutty and long,' said consultant Claire Love, while team leader Angela Reddin said: 'Lemongrass, honey, fennel and purity. Essence of heaven.' £31.85/37.5cl

£31.85 Matthew Clark

Gaia, Vinsanto, 2005, Santorini , Greece

Silver medal winner

Dark, with plenty of raisin notes on the nose, this is a high-toned sweetie. 'Very lifted with a rich core of sweetness and lots of toasty oak,' began team leader Annette Scarfe MW, concluding: 'Multi-layered, well focused and interesting.' £23.52/50cl

£23.52 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Badia di Morrona, Vin Santo del Chianti, 2010, Tuscany , Italy

Silver medal winner

Andrea Domenicucci of Whatley Manor was in his element here, enjoying this wine's 'tobacco, noisette, cacao and raisin, and great finish'. 'Intense and complex, great dried fruit character, lovely!' agreed Richard Brooks of Caroline Catering. £16.60/50cl

£16.60 Eurowines

Mission Estate, Late Harvest, 2014, Hawke's Bay , New Zealand

Silver medal winner

Team leader Annette Scarfe MW highlighted an unusual combination of flavours: 'Lovely rich, ripe apricot fruit with moderate acidity, lychee tropical notes and Turkish delight with hints of ginger,' while fellow team leader Martin Lam praised the 'great purity, a super-ripe stone fruit nose, and good acid-sugar balance'. £8.57/37.5cl

£8.57 Cockburn & Campbell

Ziraldo, Riesling Icewine, 2012, Niagara Peninsula , Canada

Silver medal winner

Consultant Claire Love found this to be a 'very complex style', showing 'concentrated orange and some thyme and honey notes on the finish', while Cheese at Leadenhall's Robert Mason noted: 'Petrolly, candied citrus, honeyed nuts, fresh acidity and depth.' £28.33/37.5cl

£28.33 Perfect Cellar

Ziraldo, Vidal Icewine, 2012, Niagara Peninsula , Canada

Silver medal winner

'Full-on, honeyed sweetness but savoury too, totally mirabelle plum,' said team leader Anne Krebiehl MW, while Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants found it 'luscious, clean with good acid, plenty of fruit and a fresh exuberance'.

£25.83 Perfect Cellar

Michele Chiarlo, Nivole, Moscato d'Asti, 2015, Piedmont , Italy

Silver medal winner

Aurélien Constant of Galvin La Chapelle found this wine to be 'fresh with a fine fizz', noting: 'Elegant notes of elderflower and rose, and touches of exotic fruit and white flowers leave the palate nice and clean.' Team leader Annette Scarfe MW, said: 'Delicate, frizzante style, well balanced and not too sweet. Perfect with dessert.' £11.26/37.5cl

£5.63 Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Cascina Castlet, Avié, Moscato Passito, 2009, Piedmont , Italy

Bronze medal winner

Richard Brooks of Caroline Catering enjoyed its 'very liquorous texture, lovely intensity and length', while Tobias Brauweiler MS of Hakkasan Group noted: 'Nice apple, pear and dried lemon fruit, cut by good acidity with hints of spice and marmalade.' £14.58/37.5cl

£14.58 Alivini

Varone Vins, Blandice, Blanc, 2012, Valais , Other

Bronze medal winner

'Some complexity here, with dried fruits and just a touch of nut, good value,' began Stefano Pirondi of Bread Street Kitchen, with team leader Annette Scarfe MW adding: 'Sweet but not cloying, creamy with lees work and very fresh.' £9.30/50cl

£9.30 Alpine Wines / Nick Dobson

Antinori, Muffato della Sala, 2009, Umbria , Italy

Commended medal winner

Willi Opitz, Goldackerl, Welschriesling/Scheurebe, Beerenauslese, 2012, Burgenland , Austria

Commended medal winner

£25.48 Matthew Clark

Amand Wine Exports, Royal Tokaji, Mézes Mály, 6 Puttonyos, 2007, Tokaj , Hungary

Commended medal winner

£67.23 Bibendum Wine

Compagnie Médocaine, Château du Levant, Sauternes, 2012, Bordeaux , France

Commended medal winner

£16.02 Bibendum Wine

Willi Opitz, Muskat Ottonel, Schilfwein, 2010, Burgenland , Austria

Commended medal winner

£29.51 Matthew Clark