This year's Decanter World Wine Awards International Trophy for the Best in Show Sweet Fortified over £15 went to Blandy's, Malmsey, Madeira, Portugal 1988 (20%)

Tasted against:

  • Bacalhôa, Moscatel, Setúbal Roxo, Portugal 2002
  • Bodegas Robles, 1927 Selección de Robles Oro, Montilla-Moriles, Spain NV
  • Gérard Bertrand, Legend Vintage, Rivesaltes, Languedoc- Roussillon, France 1974
  • Graham’s, Quinta dos Malvedos, Vintage Port, Portugal 2001
  • L’Union de Cooperatives Vinicoles de Samos, Anthemís, Samos, Greece 2008
  • Lustau, Emilín, Moscatel, Sherry, Spain NV
  • Ramos Pinto, RP Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal 2009
  • Ramos Pinto, RP20 Quinta do Bom Retiro 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal NV
  • Stanton & Killeen, Grand Topaque, Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia NV


This was an excruciatingly close finish, with our judges debating for an age on which wine should win this International Trophy. Extra time was required to retaste two wines in particular in what was most definitely a photo finish. Ultimately, a Madeira came out on top to defend its 2013 crown in this category, our judges bowled over by its complexity and fresheness.

Blandy’s was founded in 1811 by John Blandy and more than 200 years later it is still a family affair, with his descendant Chris Blandy the current CEO. The company’s ongoing ethos is always to leave the business in a better state for the next generation, and recent investment in the vineyards plus a new winery continues that vision. (Interestingly, Blandy’s has an internal rule that forbids any family member working for the group without garnering at least four years’ experience in other companies first.)

This Trophy-winner is the first vintage release for five years and Chris Blandy knew they had something special when winemaker Francisco Albuquerque first brought it to them. ‘We immediately recognised its potential, but held onto it for a year after bottling to round out the prominent acidity. It has developed in the bottle to become what we believe is one of the great Madeira Malmseys of its time.’

It was aged for 25 years in American oak barrels on three different floors in Blandy’s lodges in Funchal, as their different temperatures have a huge effect on evaporation. Just 1,589 bottles. were made.

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Written by Decanter