Last up at the Food & Wine Society, New York, was this "off list" item. From 2005, the purpose was to demonstrate that decent Madeira doesn't have to break the bank. Clearly it's nothing compared to some of the grandees tasted earlier but it is lively, fresh, good depth, and enough complexity to make it interesting. Not bad, in a pinch. — 4 years ago
I loved this one. Blandy's 1920 Bual was just gorgeous. Dark brown. Very rich, and viscous in texture. Orange peel comes through in abundance. Incredible length, complexity. Slightly bitter at the end of the finish. Gorgeous. (One of the reasons why I like tastings like this one from the FWS is that I'm not going to race out to drop $1100 on a bottle like this. But it's such a thrill to have a taste. Maybe I'll split one with 20 friends and we'd have a 1920s themed dinner... now that's an idea.) — 4 years ago
Upon opening there's wonderful raisin on the nose. Great whiskey or brandy smell to it. Very smooth with a long finish, complex raisin and citrus, like pineapple and lemon. Definite acidity. Had never tried a Madeira before, and was expecting a sherry or port experience, but this was more complex and more alcoholic than expected. Very nice! — 4 years ago
Next up was the 1968 from Periera D'Oliveira, which was bottled in 1996. And wow. Dark amber. Spice cake on the nose with dried apricots too, which carry on in the flavors on the palate. Initially spices are most distinct, but through the long finish the pitted fruit elements emerge. It is midweight and beautifully balanced. The orange peel at the end of the finish adds freshness, and the acidity gives a youthfulness to it. I think this wine is still in the market. If not too expensive, I might pick up a bottle and start my Madeira collection... — 4 years ago
The 1870 Boal from Joao Romao Teixeira was a contender for wine of the night. Brown with amber rim. Almonds on the nose. Unsurprising then that marzipan is on the palate with spices, licorice and nutmeg. Great freshness and a touch of menthol and more acidity than the other wines in the lineup. Just stunning. Andrew Jones of the Food & Wine Society did a great job bagging this from Christie's back in the day. — 4 years ago
Back in February I went along to a Madeira tasting hosted by The Food & Wine Society, New York. Entitled Two Centuries of Boal, the wines were from the cellar of Andrew Jones, who is quite the authority when it comes to Madeira.
We kicked off with the 1861 Boal from Shortridge Lawton & Co (which became part of the Madeira Wine Association). With Madeira, the key thing is how long it aged in barrel. Once it is in the bottle, the aging stops. So had the 1861 been bottled in 1871, it would still be a 10 year old Madiera. This wasn't the case here. Instead Jones tracked its bottling to sometime after 1965.
Such long aging did well for this wine. While 1861 was considered a poor vintage at the time, this Madeira was stunning:
Brown with yellow rims. Rich on the nose with caramel and raisins. Incredible richness on the palate, with an intense burst that sustains. Faded sweetness with dried fruits and sandalwood, and especially dry on the finish, that seems to go on forever with evolving complexity. Gorgeous. A beyond rare treat. — 4 years ago
The 1954 Bual from Henriques & Henriques was one of the weaker ones of the night. Mahogany and fairly dark. Very floral on the nose. Dried apricots on the palate. Mid length finish. Not especially complex. Enjoyable by any standards, but fell short here. — 4 years ago
The Madeira that had the lowest number on the label was the 1845 Solera from Cossart. The last top up was apparently 1953, so this really wasn't nearly as old on average as some of the others. Dark brown with copper edges. Soapy on the nose. Quite short but attractive orange peel and spices. It might not be the oldest of the bunch, but it is rather past it. — 4 years ago
Next up in this extraordinary Food & Wine Society, New York tasting was the 1863 Welsh Brothers Boal, which was bottled in 1978. This producer was also acquired by the Madeira Wine Company.
Mahogany with a golden rim. Not much on the nose. Some imperfections on the nose. Super concentrated on the palate, with treacle notes. Sweet turning bitter. Alcohol comes through quite aggressively. — 4 years ago