ROSE Murray Brown runs down twelve of the best dessert and fortified wines for Christmas 2013
TOP SIX SWEETIES
Spain ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL MUSCATEL DE VALENCIA (£5 for 75cl, Asda)
This Spanish bargain caused a sensation at a recent tasting for its value for money. Light, fresh, fragrant with gentle sweetness. An incredible price. Well done Asda.
Chile TABALI LATE HARVEST MUSCAT 2011 (£4.95, hf bt, The Wine Society, www.thewinesociety.com; £7.49, Virgin Wines, www.virginwines.co.uk; selected Waitrose stores)
Another incredible sweet bargain. Made from pink muscat, it has floral, musky notes with gentle sweetness.
New Zealand SEIFRIED SWEET AGNES RIESLING 2012 (£13.99, hf bt, Harvey Nichols; selected Waitrose stores; www.vintagemarque.com)
Rich sweet notes of passion fruit and lime are balanced with a fabulous high acidity and minerality. A multi-award winner – with no less than 12 international trophies.
France HUGEL GEWURZTRAMINER VENDANGE TARDIVE 2007 (£33, The Wine Society; Inverarity One to One, Glasgow; www.vintagemarque.com)
This late harvest gewurztraminer makes an unusual sweet wine with lychee, mango and light spicy undertones. It is richly sweet, but not too dense and cloying.
Hungary DISZNOKO TOKAY ASZU 5 PUTTONYOS 2007 (£26 for 50cl bt, Waitrose; Ocado)
Tokay is always my family’s top pick for the Christmas meal: it’s so fresh, elegant and richly sweet.
Italy DONNAFUGATA ‘BEN RYE’ PASSITO DI PANTELLERIA 2010 (£36.95, hf bt, Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh)
This dried grape wine from the island of Pantelleria off Sicily caused a sensation at our Italian tasting. Rich, dense and raisiny with unctous sweet notes and fresh acidity. A revelation. STAR BUY
TOP SIX FORTIFIEDS
Spain EMILIO LUSTAU LOS ARCOS DRY SOLERA RESERVA AMONTILLADO (£12.85-£14.50, Berry Bros & Rudd, London; Fortnum & Mason, London; Corks Out; Luvians, Cupar)
A nutty gem from the Emilio Lustau stable. This Amontillado started life under a veil of Fino yeasts, so it has a typical yeasty, sherried bouquet, but its palate is rich and soft with notes of walnuts and hazelnuts.
Spain OLD DRY PALO CORTADO (£7.49, Marks & Spencer)
Another little sherry bargain made by Emilio Lustau. It’s dry enough to match with charcuterie and mellow enough to match with fruit cake.
Portugal SANDEMAN’S 20 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT (£35, Waitrose)
Tawny port is a must at Christmas with dried fruit and nuts by the fireside. This soft 20-year-old tawny shone at our tasting. No decanting required.
Portugal QUINTA DO NOVAL LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE 2007 (£19, Justerini & Brooks, Peckham’s, Glasgow)
Deep, dark, mouthfilling sweet damson fruits with great fresh acidity and grip. Good price for this quality. Remember it is an unfiltered LBV, so needs decanting before serving.
Portugal TAYLOR’S QUINTA DE TERRA FEITA VINTAGE 2001 (£23, reduced from £28, Majestic)
A single vineyard vintage-style port with figs, plums, cherries and sweet spice. The perfect way to finish your Christmas meal. Decant before serving.
North East Victoria, Australia CAMPBELLS RUTHERGLEN LIQUEUR MUSCAT (£11.49, hf bt, Waitrose)
Rich, golden, raisiny notes, deep honeyed sweetness, treacly undertones – it is very sweet (and high in alcohol at 17.5 per cent) so perhaps a touch too much for the figgy pudding, but it is delicious with fruit cake or just drizzled over vanilla ice cream as a dessert.
• Join Rose’s Pinot Noir Dinner at The Peat Inn restaurant, Fife on Friday 21 March: £90 (4 courses & 8 wines), email@example.com