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Liquid Gold: Outstanding sweet wines of the world

Once the most famed and coveted wine style in the world, sweet wines have the ability to inspire otherworldly experiences.

Outstanding examples divulge layers of complexity wrapped up in luscious texture yet are never cloying, with aromas and flavours that continue to develop gracefully with age.

Lying behind the term ‘sweet wine’ are centuries of history, tradition and varying production techniques, from grapes affected by noble rot or dried in the sun, to those left on the vine until frozen. Whatever the process, it’s often a labour of love that gives small quantities in return.

The quality and absolute joy of sweet wines is recognised annually during Decanter World Wine Awards, whereby hundreds of sweet wines from regions all around the world are rated by leading experts, invariably with brilliant results.

Scroll down to see 15 top-scoring sweet wines from DWWA 2023

The 2023 competition saw two of the Top 50 Best in Show medals awarded to sweet wines from Austria and Greece, with eight more awarded 97 points in the Platinum category.

From notable classics to new discoveries, a total of 41 sweet wines from 12 countries were awarded 95 points (Gold) or more, with wines from the Czech Republic, Portugal and China on quality par with the great sweets of France, Germany and Hungary.

‘The Decanter World Wine Awards has become a kind of international benchmark for the wine world,’ explains Co-Chair Andrew Jefford – and a look at results within a specific region, grape variety, colour or style category, as here, reflects this.

As an aperitif, a sweet treat to complete a meal, or savoured on its own, below discover the liquid Gold of the DWWA competition – this year’s global sweet wine benchmarks – with more to search and find at awards.decanter.com

Liquid Gold: Top-awarded sweet wines to try


Tschida Angerhof, Schilfwein Muskat Ottonel, Neusiedlersee 2021

Best in Show, 97 points 
£73.25/37.5cl Astrum Wine Cellars, Sociovino
Aromas of honeyed, musky enchantment: seduction exemplified. Palate-teasingly rich (308g/L sugars) yet never cloying, thanks principally to those head-turning perfumes and to a lesser extent to its subdued orange-decked acidity. Creamy and rich, and it leaves the mouth with a jasmine freshness. Resist it if you can. Alcohol 8%


Estate Argyros, First Release Vinsanto, Santorini 2015

Best in Show, 97 points
£45.55-£60/50cl Clark Foyster, Epinoia, Tanners, Wine & Greene
Waxy, incense-like aromas almost seem to evoke the interior of Orthodox churches. The flavours are deep, dense and close-knit, the balance riveting – extravagant sugars (250g/L) are offset by the distinctive acid cut of Assyrtiko and a ‘rancio’ oxidative tang and tannic grip, the legacy of long wood-ageing. Classic Santorini salinity adds a further layer to a unique wine experience. Alc 13%


De Bortoli, Noble One Botrytis Semillon, New South Wales 2019

Platinum, 97 points 
£21.95/37.5cl (2020) Eynsham Cellars, Gwin Dylanwad, WoodWinters
Big, unctuous and brimming with masses of honey, crystalline sugar, lemon rind and burnt orange. Lusciously sweet crème caramel texture, all held together by a succulent, cleansing acidity. Long, intense and mouthfilling. Divine. Alc 10%


Yajianggu Winery, Vidal Icewine, Tonghua, Jilin 2017

Gold, 95 points 
The nose displays lovely scents of flowers with notes of tropical mango and pineapple, caramel and fresh honey. Crisp and lemony on the palate. Alc 10.6%


Benvenuti, San Salvatore Muškat, Istria 2018

Gold, 95 points
A rich and intricate flavour profile features notes of raisin, caramel and dried apricot. Its texture is velvety smooth, with hints of peach and beeswax, the finish sweet and long-lasting. Truly impressive. Alc 11%

Czech Republic

Portz Insel, Cibulka Ryzlink Vlašský, Mikulovská, Moravia 2018

Gold, 95 points
Truly fabulous, showing elegant aromas of honeyed peaches, apple pie, orange peel and fresh citrus fruits. Sweet and unctuous, with harmonious and lively acidity. Alc 12%


Domaine des Petits Quarts, Clos des Melleresses, Bonnezeaux, Loire 2021

Platinum, 97 points
Has layers of sumptuous candied orange peel and rich honeyed citrus fruit. Caressingly rich and lavish with a hugely concentrated, mouthwatering texture and a seamlessly fresh, contrasting line of acidity. Delectable, delicious and endless. Alc 11.5%


Dr Loosen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling TBA, Mosel 2013

Platinum, 97 points 
POA ABS Wine Agencies
Waves of sublime honeyed apricot, dried pineapple, mango and marmalade with a luscious backbone of exotic saffron and rosehip bathed in vibrant acidity which cleanses the sweetness. Delightfully poised and pristine, incredible length. Alc 7.5%

Hans Wirsching, Iphöfer Julius-Echter -Berg Rieslaner TBA, Franken 2021

Platinum, 97 points
POA The WineBarn
Enticing, intense aromas of dried apricot, candied orange peel, marmalade, peach jam and pineapple dive into a sweet-sour tightrope of tension and delectable oily viscosity, with distinctive acidity and lifted, Angelica root-infused finish. Alc 7%

Korrell, Kreuznacher Paradies Riesling Eiswein, Nahe 2021

Platinum, 97 points
Emblazoned with mouthwatering honeyed peach and apricot fruit, lemon curd and dried blossom with a tingling knife-edge acidity and seamless minerality piercing through the staggeringly intense sweetness. An utterly mindblowing experience. Alc 6%


Gizella, Szamorodni, Tokaj 2019

Platinum, 97 points
£33.99/50cl Novel Wines
Smoulderingly rich with swathes of succulent apricot, honeyed white peach, dried mango and passion fruit encased in a penetrating lime and grapefruit freshness. Decadent, full and rapturously luscious with a wonderfully long and youthful finish. Alc 11%


La Colombaia Ville di Bagnolo, Torri della Colombaia, Vin Santo del Chianti, Tuscany 2009

Platinum, 97 points
Mesmerising shades of crushed walnuts, dried mango, peach and ginger spice are engulfed in a luscious caramel intensity. Deeply rich and sublimely sweet, a suggestion of toasty vanilla and a lipsmacking tang of refreshing acidity. Very long. Alc 15%


Companhia das Lezírias, Séries Singulares Colheita Tardia, Tejo 2021

Gold, 96 points
Absolutely impeccable. Heady and unctuous cut lime, pear, lychee, Turkish delight and butterscotch with a harmony of grapefruit acidity and a long, super- spicy finish. Alc 13%

South Africa

Paul Cluver, Noble Late Harvest Riesling, Elgin 2021

Gold, 95 points 
£22-£27.50/37.5cl Christopher Piper, Dunell’s, Frontier Fine Wines, The Oxford Wine Co, Vinvm
Thrilling layers of sundried mango, pineapple, honey and marmalade with a surge of crisp lime acid precision. Hugely generous and enticing with a very long finish. Alc 10%

Search all DWWA 2023 results

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