The Big Fortified Tasting – a big thumbs up

Nine out of 10 vegetarians miss bacon and I still hanker after BLT sandwiches.  Happily a similar new acronym, BFT – short for Big Fortified Tasting – has entered my vocabulary and I feel well compensated! The name pulls no punches.  With over 300 wines at today’s inaugural tasting, it provided a unique opportunity to compare and contrast fortified wines from different countries and, across region, to bottom out different producers’ house styles.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing up the highlights in regional reports, starting with Australia’s Rutherglen liqueur muscats, tawnies and tokays, about which I was treated to a masterclass by Stanton & Killeen’s Chief Winemaker, Brendan Heath (pictured below).  Next up, I’ll be focusing on Portugal reporting on Port and Madeira of course, but also some lesser known Portuguese fortifieds: a Carcavelos, Vinho Licoroso Estremadura, Moscatel do Douro from Niepoort and a vertical of Moscatel de Setubal plus the rarer Roxo and Superior Moscatel de Setubal.

Heath and I have been limbering up to today’s event over the last week judging fortifieds for the International Wine Challenge.   One of last week’s IWC highlights was a flight of 2005 LBV Ports, the best of which really punched above their weight, showing marvellous fruit purity and finely structured tannins –  a real testament to the huge investment that’s been made in the Douro in recent decades.  As the BFT’s Danny Cameron and Ben Campbell-Johnson pointed out in the forward to the BFT catalogue, the quality of fortified wines has probably never been higher, yet many of the prices have never been lower.   Let’s hope this tasting raises the category’s profile and becomes an annual fixture. I tasted some beautiful wines today that really merit our attention – look forward to telling you all about them!