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Winner Details

Sweet Wines

2019  GOLD: 6             SILVER: 9         BRONZE: 2       COMMENDED: 15
2018  GOLD: 3             SILVER: 7         BRONZE: 2       COMMENDED: 8

Ah, that rush of sugar at the end of a day’s tasting. Is there anything quite like it? Apparently not. We regularly have to rein in our tasting teams here, otherwise our wine list would look like Usain Bolt’s trophy cabinet.

But this year our half-dozen Golds ranged from a super-sweet icewine through Tokaji and botrytised Marlborough Riesling to a lighter Cape Muscat and a nutty, sherry-like Sardinian Vernaccia. It was, in other words, a stimulating and well-balanced selection.

Certainly, it was better balanced than some of the entries. Super-sweetness without back-up acidity was the biggest failing of those that didn’t make it to the medal stages. The only other negative? However good these wines are, they’re not an easy sell.


‘It’s difficult to pair sweet wines during the meal, though we used to do a tasting menu only with sweet wine, and it was really well received.’ Raphael Thierry, Street XO

‘Sweet wines can be quite difficult to sell. People don’t like them when they’re too sweet.’ Elisa Soggia, Kai Mayfair

‘You’re looking for acid, not too full-bodied, something that drinks like a wine.’ Ian Howard, consultant

‘The non-botrytis wines could work as a sipping option instead of a dessert – but you couldn’t match them with sweet foods, it’s just too much.’ Martin Lam, team leader

‘This was a stupendous selection of icewine from around the world. These wines come at a certain price tag but are well worth trying. They might not be in high demand in restaurants, but deserve to be revisited.’ Olivier Gasselin, Hakkasan

‘Sweet wines are generally at very high price points, and when I’m pricing flights they come towards the end of the budget. It’s hard to find value.’ Jim Bass, Scarlet Hotel

Award winners

Found 32 wines

Sweet Wines

Disznókö, Late Harvest (50cl) 2017, Tokaj, Hungary

Gold medal winner

‘Quality!’ began team leader Jan Konetzki, echoing the sentiments of the judging panel as this was awarded Gold, and going on to describe ‘tropical fruit salad notes, smokiness, a honeyed sweetness and rich texture’. ‘Quince jam, orange skin and camomile,’ added Street XO’s Raphael Thierry, who found it ‘very luscious, but with good freshness, too’. The Gilbert Scott’s Juan Manuel Marcos Perez described ‘apricots and marmalade’, and remarked on the ‘balance between sugar and acidity’ here.

£10.59 Size: 50cl González Byass

Szepsy, Szamorodni (50cl) 2013, Tokaj, Hungary

Gold medal winner

A variety of tasting notes from our judges underlined the complexity of this Gold winner. ‘Layered with orange marmalade peel, mango, honey and sweet, ripe saffron pear, this wine has great length,’ wrote team leader Jan Konetzki, while Street XO’s Raphael Thierry picked out a ‘lemon curd and coriander nose with apricot and quince on the palate’. All of which made it, according to team leader Laurent Richet MS, an ideal match for ‘apricot and almond tart with lime sorbet’.

£38.09 Size: 50cl Top Selection

Framingham, Marlborough Noble Riesling (37.5cl) 2018, Marlborough, New Zealand

Gold medal winner

As judges unanimously proclaimed this Gold, Street XO’s Raphael Thierry spoke highly of its ‘lemon curd nose with a rich, sweet and complex palate showing quince, lemon tart and Asian pear, leading to a long, balanced finish’. The Gilbert Scott’s Juan Manuel Marcos Perez found ‘ripe mango and lychee, with a beeswax finish’, while for Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants, its ‘luscious, opulent tropical fruit’ made it ideal for serving with ‘mango and passion fruit pavlova’.

£12.99 Size: 37.5cl Liberty Wines

Fairview, La Beryl Blanc (50cl) 2017, Coastal Region, South Africa

Gold medal winner

As judges handed over a well-deserved Gold medal, Bianca Potenza of Bluespoon Andaz Hotel - Amsterdam spoke highly of this South African sweet wine’s ‘beautiful sweetness, but not too much, with elderflower and honey, and a slight nuttiness, too’. Team leader Jade Koch was impressed by its ‘great concentration of fruit, and really good balance’, while Cavalry & Guards Club’s Andre Luis Martins further described ‘perfumed tropical notes with gentle mango aromas, leading to a full-bodied palate and a long finish’.

£13.95 Size: 50cl Liberty Wines

Inniskillin, Riesling, Icewine (37.5cl) 2017, Ontario, Canada

Gold medal winner

A hit with our judges and undoubtedly a candidate for Gold, this had, according to Hakkasan’s Olivier Gasselin, ‘very bright, floral and crystalline notes of lemon balm’ and was ‘juicy, pure and zesty, and not too cloying at all’. For Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group, meanwhile, it had ‘a nose of pure orange marmalade and maple flowers’ that led to a palate that featured ‘richly dried apricot and dates’.

£41.34 Size: 37.5cl Liberty Wines

Silvio Carta, Vernaccia di Oristano, Riserva 1968, Sardinia, Italy

Gold medal winner

This remarkable 1968 Vernaccia di Oristano, aged in chestnut barrels, was led to the Gold podium as judges painted an intriguing picture of a wine ‘with a sherry nose’, according to team Leader Martin Lam, who also praised its ‘delightful acidity’. Shane McHugh of Adam Handling went on to describe notes of ‘coffee, nuts and chocolate’, while team leader Jade Koch described it as ‘crunchy’, and commented on its ‘deep brown colour’.

£246.35 Size: 75cl Eurowines

Leduc-Piedimonte, Ice Cider (37.5cl) 2011, Quebec, Canada

Silver medal winner

‘A very rich, bruised apple nose, reminiscent of Calvados,’ began team leader Nigel Lister. He described ‘roasted pear and apple flavours with dried fruit, raisin and fig and a distinct truffle note’ and said he ‘would love to try it with good pork crackling’.

£18.03 Size: 37.5cl Top Selection

De Trafford, Straw Wine 37.5cl NV, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Silver medal winner

‘Orange peel, honey and marmalade, spice,’ said Adam Handling’s Shane McHugh. ‘Perfumed with ripe nectarine fruit, a complex, rich body and a refreshing finish,’ added Cavalry & Guards Club’s Andre Luis Martins.

£26.53 Size: 37.5cl Bibendum

Inniskillin, Cabernet Franc, Icewine (37.5cl) 2016, Ontario, Canada

Silver medal winner

Chiara Sieni of Bottles Group loved ‘the amazing colour’ of this Cabernet Franc. With its ‘amazing nose of chestnuts and honey with a long buttery finish’, she described it as ‘a treat’. ‘Strawberries stewed in a red wine syrup’ offered team leader Nigel Lister, while fellow team leader Tom Forrest came up with ‘toffeed raspberries’.

£46.59 Size: 37.5cl Liberty Wines

Negro, Birbet Brachetto 2018, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

‘Pink, ruby and frothy – delightful-looking in the glass,’ remarked team leader Angela Reddin, describing it as ‘brimming over with notes of strawberry, pomegranate and cherry’, before concluding that ‘this is good wine’. ‘Perfect with chocolate and cherry mousse,’ offered Scarlet Hotel’s Jim Bass.

£11.90 Size: 75cl Enotria&Coe

Château de Fesles, Bonnezeaux (50cl) 2014, Loire, France

Silver medal winner

Elisa Soggia of Kai Mayfair noted that the ‘high acidity really balances this complex wine’, and thought that the ‘baked apricot, orange marmalade, vanilla and honey mix throughout the palate with twist of white pepper on the finish’.

£23.52 Size: 50cl Les Grands Chais de France

Saint Clair, Godfrey's Creek, Noble Riesling (37.5cl) 2016, Marlborough, New Zealand

Silver medal winner

Consultant Ian Howard thought this had ‘a delicate style with good length and acidity’, and added that ‘the wine shows candied lime, honeycomb with a lovely stone fruit palate of nectarine’. ‘Lemon peel candy,’ said team leader Jan Konetzski, ‘with caramel, pastry and a ripe, grapey palate.’

£15.16 Size: 37.5cl Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Errazuriz, Late Harvest, Sauvignon Blanc (37.5cl) 2017, Casablanca Valley, Chile

Silver medal winner

Team leader Jan Konetzki described ‘peach, ripe pineapple and candied lemon’, adding that ‘the honeyed sweetness is tempered by good acidity and decent length’. ‘Vibrant with good acidity,’ echoed Kai Mayfair’s Elisa Soggia, who detected notes of ‘green apple, dried apricot with vanilla and white pepper’.

£6.98 Size: 37.5cl Hatch Mansfield, Matthew Clark

Michele Chiarlo, Nivole, Moscato d'Asti (37.5 cl) 2018, Piedmont, Italy

Silver medal winner

‘Lightly spritzy peach and apricots flavours with hints of beeswax,’ said team leader Angela Reddin, with ‘sweet mouth entry and a long, expressive apple pip finish’.

£7.38 Size: 37.5cl Hallgarten & Novum Wines

Château d'Aydie, Pacherenc du Vic-Bihl Moelleux (50cl) 2017, South West France, France

Silver medal winner

‘Honeyed, sweet apricot, with hints of gooseberry and a white flower fragrance,’ began team leader Jan Konetzki, further describing it as ‘very ripe with good acidity and freshness’.

£11.99 Size: 50cl Enotria&Coe

Príncipe de Viana, Vendimia Tardía (50cl) 2017, Navarra, Spain

Bronze medal winner

‘Refreshing acidity lifts this floral, structured wine to a refreshing finish with a medicinal note,’ said Carolina W Seibel of Moio Restaurant.

£13.02 Size: 50cl Bodegas Príncipe de Viana

Cline Cellars, Late Harvest Mourvèdre (37.5cl) 2016, Contra Costa Valley, California, USA

Bronze medal winner

Andre Luis Martins of Cavalry & Guards Club thought that ‘the palate is complex with bramble sweetness and a herbaceous note: mint, rosemary and thyme’. He further described it as ‘meditation wine with intensity and personality’.

£12.95 Size: 37.5cl Boutinot

Stratus, Riesling, Icewine (37.5cl) 2016, Ontario, Canada

Commended medal winner

£21.84 Size: 37.5cl Bibendum

Château La Sabatière, Monbazillac 2015, South West France, France

Commended medal winner

£10.43 Size: 75cl Enotria&Coe

Il Cascinone, Palazzina Moscato Passito (37.5cl) 2014, Piedmont, Italy

Commended medal winner

£5.95 Size: 37.5cl Boutinot

Gizella Pince, Szamorodni 2017, Tokaj, Hungary

Commended medal winner

£43.32 Size: 50cl The Wine Rascals

Peter Lehmann, Botrytis Semillon 2016, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia

Commended medal winner

£16.68 Size: 37.5cl Liberty Wines

Inniskillin, Gold Vidal, Icewine 2017, Ontario, Canada

Commended medal winner

£69.08 Size: 37.5cl Liberty Wines

Pithon Paille, Les 4 Vents Coteau du Layon 2016, Loire, France

Commended medal winner

£22.75 Enotria&Coe

Francesco Candido, Aleatico di Puglia 2012, Puglia, Italy

Commended medal winner

£22.26 Size: 50cl Enotria&Coe

Perdeberg, Dry Land Collection, Longevity, Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2017, Paarl, South Africa

Commended medal winner

£7.60 Size: 75cl Boutinot

Béres, Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2008, Tokaj, Hungary

Commended medal winner

£31.05 Size: 50cl Matthew Clark

Silvio Carta, Vernaccia di Oristano, Riserva 2001, Sardinia, Italy

Commended medal winner

£63.55 Size: 75cl Eurowines

Lenz Moser, Prestige Beerenauslese 2015, Burgenland, Austria

Commended medal winner

£22.06 Size: 37.5cl Inverarity Morton

Peller, Riesling, Icewine 2015, Ontario, Canada

Commended medal winner

£65.22 Size: 37.5cl Enotria&Coe

Peller, Cabernet Franc, Icewine 2016, Ontario, Canada

Commended medal winner

£77.88 Size: 37.5cl Enotria&Coe

Peller, Vidal, Icewine 2016, Ontario, Canada

Commended medal winner

£57.32 Size: 37.5cl Enotria&Coe