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Winner Details

Other Fortified Wine

2019  GOLD: 6             SILVER: 6         BRONZE: 0       COMMENDED: 3
2018  GOLD: 4             SILVER: 5         BRONZE: 3       COMMENDED: 6

From oddball Turkish aromatised wines and high-class Vinsantos to aristocratic Madeiras and super-intense Aussie liqueur Muscats the colour of engine oil, all manner of life is here in what must be one of the most fascinating sections of the competition.

It’s very easy to throw Golds around like confetti here, but our teams restrained themselves admirably this year – six is about average. And, crucially, they mixed it up a bit stylistically, with half a dozen really interesting – and very different – wines.

One category to look out for in the future: vermouth. Five years ago, we had none. Now we’re starting to get a few every year. But it’s a growing trend in the on-trade, and we’d expect to see more of them going forward. On this evidence, our tasters would be super-happy about that.


‘[Liqueur Muscats] are an exciting category of underrated wines. There’s great value here. You can put these on by the glass, and you can keep them almost forever, and use them for cocktails as well.’ Alan Bednarski, Texture

‘Liqueur Muscats are not old fashioned. There’s a good market for them, not only to pair with dessert, but also after coffee to finish a dinner.’ Chiara Sieni, Bottles Group

‘When these wines are good, it’s not about how good they are, but how well you can integrate them and get them in front of people in the restaurant. That sweetness and fortification gives it that length.’ Hamish Anderson, team leader

‘The price points are never going to be cheap, but you can serve them by the glass. Of course, if you’re only serving one glass it has to be really good.’ Nigel Lister, team leader

‘It [the Anatolian aromatised wine] was just fantastic. It had caramelisation and cola as well as a herbal flavour, while being earthy but elegant. You could see it in a tall, thin glass, with lots of ice, maybe at the end of a meal. Unusual, balanced and not what you’re expecting.’ Antoin UaRuairc, UK Midland Sommelier

‘The vermouths were wonderful – and we sell more and more of them. We would definitely have a market for these. I’d put some of these on as a pairing with dessert.’ Sue Jones, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

‘The Madeiras were interesting, from the entry level up to the high-end wines. They were very concentrated, balanced and practical.’ Markus Dilger, Dilger Sommelier Selection

Award winners

Found 15 wines

Other Fortified Wine

Capezzana, Vin Santo di Carmignano 2011, Tuscany, Italy

Gold medal winner

This was deserving of Gold, according to team leader Hamish Anderson, for its ‘extraordinary depth and sweetness, yet so balanced, with sweet toffee, spice and clove, and that typical uplifting bite of high acidity’. Ieva Markaityte of Portuguese Concepts spoke highly of its ‘caramel and apricot notes on both the nose and palate, as well as a petrol note’, while Prestonfield House’s Dave Cushley concluded that it was ‘a lovely wine, rich, herbal and spicy’.

£62.48 Size: 37.5cl Liberty Wines

Morris of Rutherglen, Classic Liqueur, Muscat (50cl) NV, Victoria, Australia

Gold medal winner

‘A dark, richly seductive wine, with an intense, fragrant nose,’ began Dave Cushley of Prestonfield House as this was awarded a well-deserved Gold medal. Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group found ‘coffee on both the nose and palate, with flavours of mocha and chocolate, dried figs and dates, with a long finish’, while Giuseppe Longobardi of The Cross Kenilworth, Simpsons & Edgbaston appreciated its ‘fresh palate and warm, toffee finish, with toasted nuts’.

£18.66 Size: 50cl Liberty Wines

Casa Ermelinda Freitas, Moscatel Roxo de Setúbal (50cl) 2010, Setúbal, Portugal

Gold medal winner

This earned praise from judges, and a Gold medal, for its ‘elegant, fruity style, yet with nuttiness, caramel, spice and bitter chocolate, as well as lifted acidity’, according to team leader Nigel Lister, while Markus Dilger of Dilger Sommelier Selection described notes of ‘green tea leaves and exotic fruits, like ripe mango’. An impressed Janusz Sasiadek of Bottles & Battles went on to find ‘lovely dried fruits and medicinal herbs, with cooked apple too’.

£29.50 Size: 50cl Atlantico UK

Diren, Mahlep NV, Eastern Anatolia, Turkey

Gold medal winner

‘So much going on!’ began an impressed Daniel Loughlin of 20 Stories as judges unanimously named this Gold, before going on to describe ‘earthy beetroot, dried roses, cinnamon, salted caramel’ and more, and praising it for its ‘balanced sweetness and fresh acidity’. Team leader Tom Forrest described ‘sweet, herbal fruit notes’ as well as ‘marzipan and toffee’, while Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants found ‘eucalyptus, menthol and sweet spice, with a long finish of cherry and almonds’.

£7.94 Size: 50cl Taste Turkey

Albourne Estate, 40 Vermouth NV, West Sussex, England

Gold medal winner

This Gold medal-winning English vermouth featured complex notes of ‘pineapple, lychee, coconut and potpourri’ for Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, while Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants thought its ‘sweetness well balanced, with bruised apples and pears’, describing it as ‘elegant until a punchy finish’. Woodhead 17’s James Fryer went on to praise some ‘herbal and quinine notes, with some grapefruit bitterness’, before declaring it ‘incredibly complex and interesting, and amazing over ice with fresh lemon’.

£14.38 Size: 75cl Sheridan Coopers / The Winehouse, South Downs Cellars

Cazes, Ambré de Cazes (37.5cl) 2004, Roussillon, France

Gold medal winner

For team leader Hamish Anderson this earned its spot on the Gold podium for its ‘beautiful purity and smoky depth, with some tangerine fruit, roasted nuts and soft brown sugar notes’, while fellow team leader Nigel Lister found it ‘excellent, with rich toffee, dark fudge and dark chocolate’. Dave Cushley of Prestonfield House added praise for its ‘honey, dried apricot and orange notes, leading to a chewy, rich palate with good texture and acidity’.

£14.53 Size: 37.5cl ADVINI

Morris of Rutherglen, Classic Liqueur, Topaque (50cl) NV, Victoria, Australia

Silver medal winner

‘Expressive notes of coffee beans, ripe fig and caramelised orange zest, with refreshing notes of dry bergamot too,’ began Alan Bednarski of Texture, going on to describe ‘a rich, sweet palate with soy sauce, Christmas spices and a very long finish, with a refreshing citrus aftertaste’.

£18.66 Size: 50cl Liberty Wines

Morris of Rutherglen, Old Premium, Rare Liqueur, Muscat (50cl) NV, Victoria, Australia

Silver medal winner

‘Complex layers of cocoa and tonka bean, with hints of burnt vanilla on the nose, with layers of citrus, including ripe orange, underneath,’ began Suave Wine’s Joseph Lunn, who found the palate to have ‘more citrus, with hints of candied pears, and a little banana’.

£64.56 Size: 50cl Liberty Wines

Casa Ermelinda Freitas, Moscatel de Setúbal NV, Setúbal, Portugal

Silver medal winner

Markus Dilger of Dilger Sommelier Selection described notes of ‘citrus, hazelnuts and raisins, with a sweet, herbal character on the palate’, while team leader Hamish Anderson found it ‘perfumed and floral, with some cinnamon and Christmas cake notes too’.

£8.60 Size: 75cl Atlantico UK

Ruffino, Serelle, Vin Santo del Chianti (37.5cl) 2013, Tuscany, Italy

Silver medal winner

Team leader Hamish Anderson found this to have ‘a huge nose of walnuts, candied orange and caramel’, while fellow team leader Nigel Lister’s first impression was ‘spicy fruit chocolate compote’, further describing ‘dark chocolate with raspberries, and some very rich prune notes, as well as figs and Christmas cake’.

£13.96 Size: 37.5cl Matthew Clark

Casa Mariol, Vermut Blanco (1L) NV, Catalonia, Spain

Silver medal winner

For Savvas Symeonidis of Gymkhana Restaurant this had ‘a clean taste, with mint and menthol, balanced by sweetness, like French bonbons’. Team leader Tom Forrest, meanwhile, appreciated its ‘floral, herbal and sweet spice aromas, with sweet orange peel and ginger on the palate’.

£15.45 Size: 75cl Top Selection

Casa Mariol, Vermut Negre (1L) NV, Catalonia, Spain

Silver medal winner

Sue Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn found this Spanish vermouth to be ‘alluring, with cinnamon, nutmeg and cola notes’, while team leader Tom Forrest also found ‘some sweet cola’, as well as notes of ‘aniseed and liquorice root’.

£15.45 Size: 75cl Top Selection

Clos Cabriere, Pierre Jourdan, Ratafia 2018, Western Cape, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£12.10 Size: 37.5cl Hard To Find Wines

La Pigeade, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2018, Rhône, France

Commended medal winner

Madeira Vintners, Malvasia 5 Anos NV, Madeira, Portugal

Commended medal winner

£16.57 Size: 75cl Cooperativa Agrícola do Funchal, CRL