See Sorting through the assortments for a guide to the collections of tasting notes already published and those yet to come.
More than 70 sweet and strong wines here for our seasonal delectation. An array of great sherries first, then a wide variety of sweet wines of many different strengths, and finally some ports. A collection of tasting notes on mouthwatering madeiras will follow next month.
Within each group, the wines are listed in order of descending score.
Young wine from the 2010 vintage but it may well be refreshed in future. Palomino from Sanlucar – exactly the same as Mas Alla but fortified to 18% and aged in 600-litre sherry casks and more recently in Bordeaux casks.
Pale brassy colour. Very umami on the nose! Vibrant and rich and super-tangy. Fabuloso. Rich yet lively and bone dry on the end. Real energy.
Deep gold. Really tangy and with wonderful depth. Bone dry and very firm. Long and serious.15%
Best dry fortified, Wines From Spain Awards 2014.
Toasted nuts, acrid smokiness, expansive complexity on the palate and huge persistence. Incredibly savoury, with tons of umami character. Quite incredible length. (RH)
Bottled Oct 2013 from Perez Barquero. PX not Palomino and probably unfortified. About 20 years old.
Dark copper. Really tangy nose. Notably fruity nose. Broad and very fresh. Wonderfully earthy. Mushroomy. I’d love to drink this with a savoury dish with a creamy mushroom sauce.
Saca of March 2014. Not yet on sale in the UK yet but should be from Feb next year. It’s a Fino in answer to the I Think Manzanilla bottling for Bibendum, Australia!
Really impressive on the nose. Lovely balance. Limpid and salty. Really lovely and perfectly balanced. Firm and fine. Solid and salty.
Much more convincing than their Fino: complex, rich, nutty, caramelised character. Full, almost heavy body. Long spiced finish. Big and bold and very satisfying. (RH)
Raisins, roasted nuts, prunes. Potent, concentrated, chewy. Very salty and intense – a great, uncompromising Oloroso. (RH)
Average 20 years old. Pale orange. Toffee nose with a strong green streak. Pungent and rancio and a silly low price. So clean. But I suspect the supermarkets are challenging it with even lower prices for old wine.
Pale yellow tawny. Very clean and fresh. Super pure. Nutty. Bring on the nuts and cheese! So pure. GV20%
Best own label fortified, Wines From Spain Awards 2014.
Salty, dried mushrooms, dried fruits, bitter chocolate. Yeasty and fiercely dry, but no less drinkable for that. (RH)
Minty, saline, herbal, fennel, rich and broad and fungal. Really great – deep and long but retaining lightness. (RH)
Chunky, dense, saline. Loaded with dried, figgy fruit. Thick, rich, satisfying. (RH)
Viscous, thick, salty, almost searing. Impressive but overbearring. (RH)
From the cask on the end. Pale greenish tawny. Sweetish hint on the nose. Then hugely tart on the palate but less demanding. Essence and hard work.15%
Saline, iodine and dried nuts – very serious and boldly flavoured. Spot on in terms of style, and with loads of satisfying, dry persistence. VGV (RH)19%
Saca of October, 2010. Deep coppery colour. Lots of evolution – very different on the nose – and actually tastes as though it had a bit of oak age! Full and satisfying with just as much refreshment as the 2014 bottling but with less freshness. You could love this with food. Whereas the 2014 bottling is an aperitif wine.
Saca of October, 2014. Just arrived. Latest release of something that started with the 2010 release intended for Oddbins initially. Sells very well in the US and Australia. Pale. Lots of tang and then like a feather brushing the palate. Lightly nutty and flattering. Probably about four years average. Bone dry and yet revitalizing. Very, very clean. Bone dry.
Pedro Ximénez from Perez Barquero. Maybe 25-30 years. Deep lustrous golden tawny. Just a little syrupy on the nose. It’s easier to see that this is Pedro Ximénez. Vibrant but a little bit heavy underneath.
Milder than their Amontillado, but no less complex – nutty, dried fruits, dried mushroom, salt. A remarkable amount of flavour for under ten pounds. (RH)19%
Gentle, layered textured, chewy. Subtle but not thin. (RH)
This is from a cask you’re not allowed in – with padlock! Comes from a stock that was forgotten about. Greenish brownish mid tawny. Rancio nose. Super tangy fragilistic. Quite extreme and extraordinary. Hard work! Should be an ingredient rather than a wine, I feel. Fruit left this long ago… For interest only.15%
Nutty, doughy, raisined with some charry, smoky character. A little bit loose on the finish – dusty and almost sour. (RH)
Pure apple fruit, gentle palate, soft and easy drinking. Beginner's sherry – nothing wrong with that! (RH)
Delicate, spicy, soft, rounded. Good, classically styled stuff. (RH)
Best dry fortified, Wines From Spain Awards 2014.
Classic, unmistakable salted nut character and green apple. Finishes with that mushroom funkiness so typical of Sherry. (RH)
Dry, smooth, quite tart. Pretty dilute – somewhat unsatisfying finish. (RH)
Organic. Elegant tall bottle and attractive pale orange colour and some rancio notes on the nose but a little soft, raisiny and dull on the palate. Not expensive but not thrilling.16.5%
Pretty one-dimensional palate, brief finish. (RH)
Somewhat subdued nose: bitter, sour, almost citric. Has an almost emetic sourness. (RH)
Subtle, floral, semi-sour. Perfectly nice if a little simple. (RH)
Compact, bready, a little salty, fine and refreshing – but a tad short. (RH)
Rich, thick, demerara sugar, milky coffee and caramel. All sugar of course, but it just about gets away with it somehow. (RH)15%
Rich and scented but also TCA tainted, it seems. Dirty barrels? Certainly infected by something somewhere along the line. (RH)
White currant, leafy, lots of character on the nose already!
Honey, marmalade, lemon juice. Sumptuous, indulgent, exotic and thoroughly delicious. Crystallised ginger, floral character, citrus peel. Great length. And miraculously fresh on the finish. Masterful. (RH)
Deep orange tawny. Apricot syrup.
Not much Gewurztraminer aromatic identity on the nose. Mint, caramel and orange marmalade on the palate – thick but not heavy, somehow – a lovely trick! No oxidative character at all, incredible length and beautiful fragrance. (RH)
Sun-dried Moscatel de Alexandria, six months in French oak. Deep burnished gold. Intensely aromatic – marmalade, bitter orange and caramelised apricot. Still manages to be fragrant even though it is so intense. Super sweet and tangy but complex too – the oak is in the background giving just a touch of spice. Very long and delicious with an aftertaste of honeyed apricots. (JH)
Racy with definite botrytis. Spritz. Very fresh and light. Very racy. Filigree with still some chew.
Late harvest. Marmalade, lime curd, caramelised nuts and a heavenly, fabulous succulence. Just a touch of vegetal character to finish. Wonderful! (RH)11%
Petrol and oil – the very picture of mature Riesling, and seems much more like Mosel than Alsace on the nose. Some charming sweetness on the palate, but it’s not luscious. Honeyed fruits with allspice and a little grapefruit freshness to finish. (RH)
RS 200 g/l, approximately.Rich gold. Minty, marmalade, ginger. Really sweet and very unctuous. Superb richness and texture; superb volume of flavour. I’d actually like to see a little more new oak here, for even more complexity. (RH)12.5%
Pale gold. Intense and inviting aroma of very ripe apricots plus pineapple and a note of honey. Gewürztraminer's classic rose-like perfume is just discernible, more so on the palate, but the botrytis apricot and orange dominate. Some delicate almond character too. Unctuous and deeply sweet but with the acidity to keep it balanced. Viscous without being heavy. Delicious and with the potential to age further. (JH)
Golden orange colour. Unusual nose: chamomile, hay and apricots. Honeyed and gorgeous on the palate. I'd love to try this with some hard cheeses. Silky texture, viscous but no heaviness. GV (JH)10%
Bergerac blend of botrytised Muscadelle, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Round, golden and very sweet without masses of acidity but at its peak and deliverer of huge pleasure. At its peak now. GV11.5%
Deep gold. Aromas of stewed – reduced to intensity – apricot, tangy marmalade, and similarly intense and tangy on the palate, with very good freshness and a gently warming finish. Delicious and finely made. (JH)13%
Lots of fun, almond essence and freshness. I think any household would wallop this over Christmas. So bright. Maybe it is walnuts…?!
100% Merlot. First vintage 2009. They wanted to make a wine that would go with chocolate. Bought-in fruit. Sun-dried grapes (rather than late harvest) so that the acidity was retained. 4 months in French oak – 1 to 2 years old. 15-18 days' ferment. RS 115 g/l RS.
Aroma of orange and spice and doesn't really smell sweet. Very slight hint of raisins. Nice dry tannins to keep it dry with sweet cherry in the middle. Cherries and fig. Works with game and with chocolate figs, apparently. Very good and definitely a food wine thanks to the tannins.
Pale orange and relatively low in acidity but with lots of depth, richness and complexity. Cheese, please! But this is really a candidate for the cellar rather than the table for the moment.
Deep purple-crimson. Perfumed and rich. Wild dark berries and cassis, with sage and juniper notes looming up on the finish. Real tang and intensity, despite the opulent sweetness of the wine. A purple explosion! Really quite delicious and a rather good lower-alcohol alternative to port. (TC)13%
Pale strawberry red. Heady raspberry pop on the nose. Almost smells syrupy. Very sweet and frothy. Like liquidised strawberry mousse. Not astringent but a real challenge for food matching because it is too light for most sweet foods. Just sliced strawberries? A curiosity…6.5%
Not 100% clean and fresh but with great sweet apricot compote fruit. Very sweet. At the end of a meal people may not notice the lack of 100% purity. GV12.5%
'Muffa nobile' means noble rot. The Calcaia vineyard has a particular microclimate which means that it is affected by thick fog on autumn mornings.They harvest five or six times during November and December, with a very long slow fermentation. Grechetto, Trebbiano Procanico, Sauvignon Blanc.
Pale amber and smells of marmalade. Surprisingly light on the palate, layers of clementine peel, white currants and honeybush tea. Lots of orange. A slight hole towards the finish, but it would be great with a slice of lemon drizzle cake! (TC)
Honeyed apricots. Rich, juicy, sweet and finely balanced. There's a slight grip to enhance its food friendliness. GV (JH)13%
Semillon and Gewurz blend. Much, much richer and more convincing than the 2013. Deep-flavoured even if far from subtle. A little sticky but the balance is ok.12.5%
Picked at -7 ° C. RS 210 g/l. Rich and sweet but a bit thick and jagged. Sherbet elixir.
Pale gold. Toasty, floral, Very sweet but not very deep-flavoured. Just a bit simple. I can't really see the grace of Petit Manseng here.11%
100% Moscato Bianco. 12 months in stainless steel. TA 5.6 g/l, RS 140 g/l. In a 500 ml bottle.
Pale amber. Lusciousness balloons out of the glass, peach and plum dripping with honey. Tastes not unlike a teaspoon of liquid apricot jam. Very rich and a lovely expression of fruit, but it does seem to lack a bit of acidity, giving it a somewhat cloying finish. You'd tire of this after a very small glass. (TC)
Golden, scented with barley sugar and almond paste. Fat on the palate and lacks freshness to balance. (JH)13.5%
Screwcapped half bottle. Rather tired nose and watery on the palate. Where's the Chenin cut? Light toastiness but pretty dull really.12%
Best sweet wine, Wines From Spain Awards 2014.
Not hugely sweet, not hugely interesting either. Good acidic freshness, but precious little complexity. (RH)
Light and crisp and floral. Lacks intensity. Just (quite) sweet and simple. Fast fade.12.5%
A blend of Grenache, Mataro and Shiraz. Matured in a solera.
Pecan brown. Not unlike an Oloroso on the nose – more so than a tawny port. Gingerbread and toasted coconut and almonds. A spicy savoury nose that reminds me of sawmills and old furniture shops. Molasses and cola, dried figs, more coconut and cedar spice. Layered and just as savoury tasting as it smells despite that fig-syrup note and the rich slow texture. Clean finish. Very well made! (TC)
Quite luscious and almondy but still a little astringent. Baked-apple character.12%
Not much nose but fabulous balance of tang, acidity and sweetness. Foie gras wine? So direct and revitalising. VGV13.5%
Pretty sweet, rosy tawny colour with more depth than Graham's and Taylor's 20 Year Olds. Great depth and toffee and real age. Sumptuous, complex.
Frosted bottle. Vegy, savoury, not that sweet and refined. Lots of fun. Silky smooth.20%
Seems a little raw after three 20 Year Old Tawnys! But correct and very fine. Sinewy and with great integrity, but quite dry.
Squat bottle. Nutty and very sweet. Tart and lively and fresh. Almost raw!20%
Bricky colour. Spirity on the nose. Full of lovely tawny flavours – plums, spice, but a little bit hard on the finish. (JH)20%