London's BFT (Big Fortified Tasting) could just have been a great idea. As it happened, it was a great event too (writes Sarah Jane Evans MW). The idea was that fortified wines are always the poor relations at a big tasting: they get left until the end of the afternoon and then forgotten altogether, or given cursory attention. Here in London's Fishmongers Hall, 52 producers showed between 2 and 12 wines each. There were Ports, Sherries, Madeiras, but also Vins Doux Naturels and Californian treats. It was a great fair for the too often forgotten wines such as the Rutherglen Muscats, Marsala and Setubal. There was also the occasional elderly surprise, such as an old Palo Cortado from Barbadillo's Reliquia collection, redolent of mahogany. The room was full of fortified fans, and it was a perfect opportunity for Master of Wine students busy revising for June's examination: there has never been such an opportunity to taste so many fortified classics together, and to understand what makes an old Oloroso different from an aged Madeira, or a Quady Californian 'Starboard' from a Port. There was also a chance to talk to brand owners - those who had made it through the volcanic ash. The big guns turned out - Tío Pepe had news of their newest project, to release Tío Pepe en rama, straight from the butt; Noval had their new 'ready to drink' port, Noval Black; the Port producers generally had good news of declarations. There was a surprisingly low turnout from the producers of Collioure and Banyuls and SW France in general. Hopefully this will be remedied next year, in what should become an annual event.

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Written by Decanter