This year's winner of the Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show Sweet Fortified over £15 went to Barbeito, 20 Años, Lote 12089 Malvasia, Madeira, Portugal.
Barbeito, 20 Anos, Lote 12089 Malvasia, Madeira, Portugal NV (19%)
Spicy, figgy nose on a nutty, vibrant style. Dried orange peel, smoky oak richness, caramel and toffee with slightly bitter notes. Loads of weight and complexity, and an almost dry, nutty finish. Delicious.
UK £98; BBR, Ryn
Tasted against • Graham’s, Quinta dos Malvedos, Port, Portugal 2004 • Yaldara, 20 Year Old Tawny, South Australia NV • Bacalhôa, Moscatel de Setúbal, Portugal 2000 • Sandeman, 40 Year Old Tawny, Port, Portugal NV • Domaine de Rancy, Rivesaltes Ambré, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 1993 • Finca Moncloa, Tintilla de Rota, Cádiz, Spain 2009 • Lustau, VORS Pedro Ximinez 30 Years Old, Sherry, Spain NV
For four years out of the past six, Australians have won this International Trophy, despite the stream of Old World contenders. This time it’s Madeira’s turn.
Ricardo Diogo has carved out a distinctive niche among Madeira shippers. Inheriting the family company from his mother in 1990, Diogo bravely set about changing its direction, ending shipments of bulk wine, eschewing caramel as colouring, and turning to younger wines. The company’s turnover immediately fell by half but quantity is now more than made up for by quality.
Diogo says that he was heavily influenced by lateharvest wines from other parts of the world and felt that he could put Madeira on the same track. As a result, Barbeito’s wines are paler, fresher, subtler and somehow more expressive than those of other shippers.
Only 1,020 bottles of the 20-year-old Malvasia were made. It is comes from vineyards at Arco de São Jorge on the north side of the island and at Fajã dos Padres on the south where some of the best and sweetest Malvasia is grown. The wine was aged in French oak casks in the ambient heat.
Diogo explains that ‘I chose to blend younger wines with older ones obtaining a wine that, at the beginning, has a very moderate impact on the nose but is then followed by an explosion of elegant flavours, where the long acidity at the end in the mouth really stands out.’ A truly great wine.
Written by Decanter