Dessert Wine 2016

Best Dessert Wine - 2016

The Fifty Best Dessert Wine Tasting of 2016


The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 12 international and domestic dessert wines with 12 members of our wine judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Ports were tasted together separately as a group. Each of the wines were poured into fresh wine glasses from new sealed bottles and served at room temperature. Only ice water and white peasant bread were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each wine on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The appelations are identified for each brand. Prices do not include sales tax.


Peller Estates
2008 Oak Aged Vidal Blanc Icewine

(Niagara Peninsula, Canada) $43 per 200ml bottle

For this wine, naturally frozen Vidal grapes were hand-harvested from Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyards. The grapes were pressed frozen, with fermentation at cool temperatures, then aged in stainless steel.

Aroma: Apricot, dried apricots, dried fruit, dried dates, candied orange, orange blossom honey, brown sugar, caramel, sauternes, barrel, hint of whiskey.
Palate: Apricot, yellow peach, orange, lemon, dates, raisins, dried fruits, mead-like, honey, maple, hibiscus, nutmeg, sweet, velvety texture.
Finish: Poached peaches, peach cobbler, orange peel, honey, clean, elegant, delicious.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Peller Estates Oak Aged Vidal Blanc Icewine


De Miranda 2012 Asti Spumante DOCG

(Italy) $20

This wine was made from 100% Moscato grapes grown in the town of Canelli. Following harvest the grapes were fermented in low pressure stainless steel tanks and aged on its lees (“wasted yeast”) for two years in stainless steel tanks. It has an alcohol content of only 8%.

Aroma: Tangerine, lemon, lime, grapefruit, citrus, apple, apricot, papaya, melon, muscat, sweet grape juice, honey, 7-Up, gardenia, floral, very aromatic.
Palate: Apricot, white peach, pineapple, pear, ripe melon, tropical fruit, green apple, apple sauce, tangerine, lemon-lime, citrus, honey, mead-like, tart, slightly acidic, hint of sparkle.
Finish: Green apple, toasty, well-balanced, not too sweet.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

Contratto De Miranda Asti Spumante


Taylor Fladgate
10 Year Old Tawny Porto

(Portugal) $28

This wine is made from a blend of ports aged for an average of 10 years. It makes a good accompaniment to fruity pies, like apple and blueberry, as well as aged cheeses.

Aroma: Peach, melon, dried fruit, candied fruit, caramel, honey, dark chocolate, burnt sugar, cola, nutty, almond, musty herbs, tobacco, leather, sweet wood.
Palate: Bright cherry, dark cherry, concentrated cherries, black raisin, burnt candied fruits, peach, honey, cola, sherry, cinnamon, spice mix, nutty, oak, round, well balanced, rich.
Finish: Plum, cherries jubilee, caramelized brown sugar, honey, honeysuckle, leather, sweet and dry balance, needs a cigar.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Porto

Ziraldo Estate Winery
2014 Riesling Icewine 'Victoria Vineyard'

(Niagara Peninsula, Canada) $89 for a 375 ml bottle

This wine was made from Riesling grapes grown “sustainably” on a vineyard planted in 2007, on the original site of Inniskillin Winery.

Aroma: Yellow peach, baked peaches, stone fruit, apple, apple sauce, citrus, lemon, lime, dried fruit, burnt sugar, honey, ginger, flowers, jasmine.
Palate: Apricot, yellow peach, pear, honeydew melon, sweet lemon, apple sauce, white raisins, candy apple, sweet candy, honey, complex, interesting, rich texture, round, velvety.
Finish: Peach, orange, applesauce, bittersweet fruit cocktail, green raisins, sugar candy, honey, good acidity.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Ziraldo Estate Winery Riesling Icewine 'Victoria Vineyard'

Reserve Tawny Porto

(Portugal) $25

This wine was crafted from a blend of ports aged for over 7 years in seasoned barrels.

Aroma: Bing cherries, plum, dried fruit, butterscotch, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, cola, almond, nutmeg, black onion seeds.
Palate: Black cherry, plum, figs, raisins, dried fruit, chocolate, toffee, caramel, molasses, honeycomb, vegetal, tobacco, sherry.
Finish: Candied apples, burnt orange, tart cherry, chocolate, brown sugar, honey, cumin, dry oak, memorable.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Croft Reserve Tawny Porto

Grgich Hills Estate
“Violetta” Late Harvest 2013

(Napa Valley, California) $85 for a 375 ml bottle

This wine was made from certified organic grapes (a blend of primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, with a small amount of Gewürztraminer) grown at the American Canyon Estate Vineyard. At harvest the grapes were coated with “noble rot” (botrytis cinerea), which imparts a honeyed flavor to the wine. Following harvest and fermentation, the wine was aged for 18 months in French oak prior to bottling.

Aroma: Orange rind, lemon, grapefruit, citrus, lemon zest, lemon seeds, lemon drops, pineapple rind, subtle stone fruits marmalade, honey, cinnamon, toast.
Palate: Clover honey, pineapple, balance of fruit and sweetness, good acidity.
Finish: Juicy, hint of cocoa, touch of tannins, oaky, impressive.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Grgich Hills Estate “Violetta” Late Harvest

Bin No. 27 Porto

(Portugal) $19

This wine, produced since 1972, is a blend of port wines of different vintages, primarily from the Cima Corgo area of the Duoro. Following blending, the wine is aged for an additional 4 years in wooden vats. It mates well with chocolate and fresh berries.

Aroma: Sweet cherries, light cherry, currants, plum, dark fruit, light grape-ness, dates, raisins, licorice, dried herbs.
Palate: Cherry, tart cherry, ripe plum, blackberries, berry, raisins, strong herbal, hint of spice, licorice, tobacco, earthy, light oak, oak barrel.
Finish: Dried cherry, light berry, subtle orange rind, earthy, ash, smooth, needs chocolate.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Fonseca Bin No. 27 Porto

Marchesi di Barolo
Zagara Moscato d’Asti

(Barolo, Italy) $13

This wine is fashioned from 100% Moscato grapes from hillside vineyards that feature soil with a rich mineral content. Following harvest, fermentation took place in refrigerated tanks, which was stopped to provide 140 grams of sugar per liter. The wine pairs well with fresh fruit and mild cheeses.

Aroma: Crisp pear, white grape, lemon, light lemon-lime zest, honeysuckle, floral, flower petals, chardonnay, spearmint, nutty, earthy.
Palate: Strawberry, apricot, papaya, pineapple, ripe peaches, melon, pear, apple, lemon, lime pith, white grape, green grape, honey, elderflower, balanced acidity, semi-sweet.
Finish: Melon, 7-Up, lively acidity, soft, smooth, pleasant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

Marchesi di Barolo Zagara Moscato d’Asti


Carol Shelton
Black Magic 2014 Late Harvest Zinfandel

(Sonoma, California) $20 for a 375 ml bottle

This 100% Zinfandel wine was made primarily from grapes grown in Sonoma County (90%) that were harvested in late September/early October, and fermented and aged in small temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The alcohol content is 15.4%.

Aroma: Dark cherries, sweet cherries, sour cherries, dark berries, blackberry, plum, grapes, cherry candy, tobacco, cabernet sauvignon, cedar.
Palate: Dark cherries, blackberry, plum, dark fruit, pear, cherry pie, tart candy, licorice, tobacco, leather, dry cabernet, subtle tannins, oak.
Finish: Baked cherries, dark cherries, cherry pit, pepper, tobacco, oak, nice sweetness.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Carol Shelton - Black Magic Late Harvest Zinfandel

Senhora Do Convento
2011 Vintage Porto

(Portugal) $56

This wine was made from Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz varietals. Following hand-harvesting, the grapes were cold-macerated for 3 days and then underwent fermentation, which was stopped on the third day with the addition of brandy. Aging took place in stainless steel tanks.

Aroma: Blackberry, boysenberry, plum, very dark fruit, light cherry, floral, violet, pepper, toasted oak.
Palate: Ripe cherry, rich blueberry, plum, rhubarb, dried fruits, jam, fruit candy, violet, understated licorice, chocolate, sharp tobacco, cherry wood, oak, elegant.
Finish: Bitter almond, dry tobacco, very tannic, robust tannins, soft, beautiful, would go great with dark chocolate.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Senhora Do Convento 2011 Vintage Porto

Taylor Fladgate
Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2011

(Portugal) $25

This wine was made from a field blend of grapes from a single vintage grown in the Duoro area of Portugal and aged in wood for almost 5 years (as opposed to “Vintage” port that’s aged in wood for only 20 months to two years). Different from ‘vintage” port, “Late-Bottled” port is ready to drink upon purchase and rarely contains any sediment.

Aroma: Dark cherries, concentrated blueberries, blackberry, plum, subtle dried fruits, prunes, cabernet sauvignon grape, sweet beets, dark chocolate, slight leather.
Palate: Dark cherries, raspberry, blueberry, plum, dried fruits, vanilla, licorice, leather, cigar box, tannins, late bottled vintage port.
Finish: Cherry, soft dark cherry, slight blueberry, sharp cinnamon, coffee, oak, smooth, sits in the mouth well, good finish.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2011

Bodega Norton
Late Harvest Malbec 2016

(Mendoza, Argentina) $11

Founded in 1895 and located in the sunny foothills of the Andes Mountains, this winery features vineyards aged 30-80 years old and wine fashioned by the award winning winemaker Jorge Riccitelli. This wine was made from 100% Malbec and mates well with braised meats and blue-veined cheeses.

Aroma: Cherry, cherry juice, black currant, blueberry, Concord grape juice, rhubarb, mixed fruit, dried fruit, leather.
Palate: Cherry, blueberry, Concord grape juice, citrus, raw wood, not very sweet, easy to drink.
Finish: Cherry wood, dry fruitiness, mellow, good with vanilla ice cream.

Silver Medal
Silver medal

Bodega Norton Late Harvest Malbec



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