Three fortified wines for Christmas 2015
Most countries in the world produce a fortified wine: a wine that is strong, and often sweet, made by adding some brandy spirit to the wine. For many people Christmas is the one time of the year when they will buy such wines, so here is a round-up of three fortified wines from classic European centres of excellence for this style:
Blandy's, Alvada 5-Year-Old Madeira, Portugal
From the Atlantic island of Madeira, a modern style of Madeira in a 50cl bottle that has a rich tawny colour and delicious aromas and flavours of walnuts and rich prune and raisins, but also a dark, Seville orange marmalade cut. Tangy, yet sweet, it's delightful to sip but would match Christmas morning mince pies so well. £11.49, Mumbles Fine Wine. From £11.99 in Ocado and see all stockists on wine-searcher.com.
Quinta do Noval, Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009, Portugal
From one of the Douro Valley's great estates and a fine producer of the LBV style, where the wines are given long aging in barrel so they are approachable immediately on release. This is infused with chocolate and dark fudge-like aromas, but on top sit all sorts of lifted, kirsch and floral nuances, lovely ethereal glimpses of all sorts of exoticism. In the mouth it is sweet, solid and chocolate-rich, with excellent acidity and tannin balance for drinking now or cellaring. Around £20 - £24, Ocado, Oddbins and see all stockists on wine-searcher.com. Note that Berry Bros sell a similar 2009 LBV made for them by Noval at £16.99.
Barbadillo, Pedro Ximénez Sherry, Spain
PX is a very special style of Sherry, made not from Palomino but from Pedro Ximénez grapes which are also partially dried so that in fact the wine is made from raisins, meaning it is dramatically dark, rich, thick in texture and filled with lusciously sweet flavours. From walnuts and orange to prunes and plump, liquidised raisins, it is fabulous stuff and a small glass goes a long way such is its decadence. Have it with your Christmas pud. £10.75, The Wine List Company, but see all stockists on wine-searcher.com.