There's perhaps no better time of year than the holiday season to open and enjoy fortified wines with friends and family. Forget the chocolates, cakes and pies, these top-rated, award-winning Platinum and Best in Show wines are sure to satisfy and impress during this most festive time of year.
The below fortified wines have been awarded the top accolades in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards. Platinum medal winners have been blind tasted and re-tasted three times and Best in Show four times by top wine experts from around the globe.
Top DWWA 2019 fortified wines
See full wine details and stockist information by clicking on the wine of interest.
Best in Show
Light, glinting amber in colour, this pristine 30 Year Old Tawny is fragrant, fresh and refined. Mint, fresh cherries, lemon verbena and creamy vanilla combine alluringly in the aromas, while the palate is silky, soft, subtle and lingering, with cherry and soft plum flavours filled out by the barley sugar sweetness of the wine, but also engraved and given relief by the subtle, oxidative characters which are the legacy of its long lodge years. Drink 2019-2020.
Black in colour with a green rim, this wine antique looks like liquid ebony. It’s heavy and languid in the glass, and you barely need to shake it before its powerfully sweet scents come rolling out like a mist: sweet, fragrant, invasive and citrus-laden. This is a hugely weighty wine in the mouth, as any liquid containing 400g of sugar per litre must be, but time and creative scrutiny have brought limitless finesse: burnished treacly richness, the salt of the ages, polished waxed wood, menthol and root spice. Drink 2019-2020.
Verdelho is surely the most versatile of all classic Madeira styles, as this outstanding example illustrates. One sniff, and the refined, cask-burnished hinterland triggered by classic Madeira ageing opens up in front of you: ripe dry fruits, a spice warehouse, rich brown sugar, old furniture, beeswax polish, a treasured library packed with leather-bound volumes. On the palate, the wine has all of the vital acid balance so typical of Madeira while those age-derived complexities are amply in evidence too – yet the tempered sweetness of the Verdelho style contrives to make this both fresh and charming. The main challenge is to make the bottle last. Drink 2019-2026.
This magnificent Colheita celebrates its 40th birthday this year with extravagant, fruitcake-like perfumes mingled with the dust and sackcloth notes of long lodge ageing. In the mouth, it is vital, yet rich and lavish too, with the sweetness of fig and raisin melting softly into dried apricot and peach-skin fruit essences. It is full in texture (much fuller than an equivalent 40 Year Old Tawny is likely to be) thanks to its ageing trajectory. This is choice, deft and still generous in girth, despite its time-burnished refinements. Drink 2019-2023.
This venerable Oloroso betrays its purity and unsullied nature by the lightness of its pale russet colour. It’s deeply aromatic, yet finely composed in terms of its aromatic profile, with dried apricot, peach and even mango combining with an orange peel tang and a basmati-rich cereal sweetness. The palate is coruscatingly dry and hugely concentrated; all of those aromatic notes harmonise with almost elixir-like force. This is a hugely exciting Oloroso with which to challenge any wine lover who doesn’t yet understand the treasures which linger and lurk in the sherry region. Drink 2019-2020.
For sheer aromatic power and penetration, almost no class of sherry can rival authentic Amontillado; it seems to remember the pungency of its fino youth, but multiply that tenfold using the power of its post-flor ageing. This orange-gold Amontillado perfectly reflects that: nuts, apricots, bung hessian and scented bodega dust come charging from the glass, while the wine dances on the palate with the force of its aromatic charge and the inner electricity and tension wrapped up in its flavours. Limitlessly dry and refined. Drink 2019-2020.
Late Bottled Vintage Port is rarely adequate as a description without some knowledge of the producer’s approach to this variable style. At its best, of course, it offers unrivalled port value – as here. This dark, black-red wine is scented with Darjeeling tea and crushed orange-peel freshness, while the palate is packed with vivacious, succulent plum, damson and sloe fruits. Fine-grained tannins bind those fruits and lend them seriousness. It makes wonderful drinking now, but would still age and improve well for half a decade. Drink 2019-2025.