Best Dessert and Fortified Wine List

The sweet and savory highlight of the excellent wine program at Studio Laguna Beach is a part of the list that is all too frequently overlooked by sommelier and customer alike. Indeed, so good is the range of dessert and fortified wines in this ocean-side restaurant, said World’s Best Wine Lists senior judge Tom Stevenson, “it’s hard to find any weaknesses.”

The two sections are equally wide-ranging, with the dessert wine list comprising extensive selections from all of the leading sweet-producing regions. There is Sauternes of course (including, but not confined to, several vintages of Yquem). But the great Bordeaux region is joined by top bottles from other French regions (Alsace, the Jura, the Loire, Monbazillac) as well as the United States, Canada, South Africa, Italy, Australia, Austria, Hungary, and Germany—even the Ukraine (the legendary Massandra, 1940 and 1948).

That leads into the wonders of the fortified list, an all-Portuguese affair starring mature vintages from the top Port houses and Madeira producers, with bottles of the latter dating back to an 1875 Blandy’s Malmsey. All of which threatens to overshadow the rest of the list, but it doesn’t: sourced with the same magpie, international approach, the 2,500-strong selection of unfortified and dry wines, offers diverse, three-star-quality pleasures throughout.