Vintage Madeira Offering back to 1795 and Priorat Tasting Review

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But now the days grow short

I’m in the autumn of the year

And now I think of my life as vintage wine

>from fine old kegs

>from the brim to the dregs

And it poured sweet and clear

It was a very good year


 


Frank Sinatra


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Madeira is an island off the coast of Morocco that belongs to Portugal. Historically, it was a popular port of call for ships on the trade routes between Africa, Asia and the Americas. The original Madeira wines were made as a powerful white wine, however to protect them during transport they were fortified - alcohol is added before fermentation is complete, which stops the process and leaves residual sugar in the wine. Sea Captains discovered that long ocean voyages actually improved casks of Madeira. Unlike other wines, heat and oxidation are essential to Madeira and so the wine is virtually indestructible.



During the 18th and 19th century, Madeira was America’s wine of choice and most fashionable drink amongst hi-society. When the Declaration of Independence was signed they toasted with Madeira, when Betsy Ross knitted the first flag she was sipping on a glass of Madeira, and when Ben Franklin was tinkering with his many inventions he indulged in a cup of this wonderful elixir. Unfortunately though over the past 150 years, it has sank from its preeminence as America’s favorite wine for several reasons. In the 1850s, powdery mildew a fungal disease destroyed most of Madeira’s vineyards. It was not long after a treatment was discovered for powdery mildew when phylloxera struck devastating the remaining vineyards. By the 20th century, Madeira had recovered but at its American market had disappeared due to Prohibition. And lastly, Portugal’s 1974 popular revolution dealt yet another blow by dismantling the remaining large estates.


 


There are four major types of Madeira - Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, and Malmsey (Malvasia). The difference lies in the grape varieties from which each was originally made, and the respective sweetness levels of the finished wines. Sercial is the driest style, containing up to 1.5 percent residual sugar and known for its hi-acidity. Similar to fino and manzanilla Sherries, Sercial is great served as an aperitif. Verdelho is semi-dry with up to 2.5 percent residual sugar, lending the wine greater richness. Bual is sweeter still at 3.5 percent residual sugar, however it is balanced by sharp, tangy acidity. Malmsey, made from Malvasia grapes, is the richest and darkest-colored style with up to 4 percent residual sweetness. Buals and Malmseys are often compared to tawny Ports; they typically show even more richness and concentration, depending on cask aging.


 



Vintage Madeira from our Collection:


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1795 Barbeito Terrantez Madeira

Price: $4650.00           Sale $4092

Quantity in Stock: 1


 


Tarrantez is a very rare varietal and produces one of the most profound of all the wines that I have tasted from Madeira. It is not quite as sweet as the Bual or Malmsey but would be considered one of the sweeter styles. Volatile aromas of toffee, all-spice, dates and sundried raisins on the nose incredible amount of fruit remaining on the nose, exotic spices. Wow still incredibly fresh on the palate, this wine is the smoothest on the palate and has an impression of silk with sweet dates and fig with fudge like notes and some fresh ground coffee very exotic and again wonderful freshness, a lemon zest like quality on the finish. Finish 50+ KILLER!! George Washington was president of the U.S. when this wine was born!


1802 Acciaoly Terrantez Madeira


1802 Acciaioly Terrantez Vintage Madeira

Price: $5250.00           Sale $4620

Quantity in Stock: 1


Tarrantez is a very rare varietal and produces one of the most profound of all the wines that I have tasted from Madeira. It is not quite as sweet as the Bual or Malmsey but would be considered one of the sweeter styles. Thomas Jefferson was president of the U.S. when this wine was born.


Michael Broadbent 5 Star, Roy Hersh (99 Points) Perfect Perfound, bottled in 1980's one of the greatest of all the Madeira, Extremely rare, very few bottles still exist of this wine and we are going to drink one on November 30th at our vintage Madeira tasting!!


1830 Quinta Do Serrado Malmsey Madeira


1830 Quinta Do Serrado Malmsey Madeira

Price: $2250.00           Sale $1980

Quantity in Stock: 1


This estate was one of the key players in all of Madeira in the 1700s and 1800s, as their vineyard sites were perfectly located on the South shore of the Island. The Serrado from this vintage was stored in demijohns until the 1980s, and Rare Wine made a fantastic purchase of the remaining bottles in the mid-1990s. Please look closely at the picture of this bottle. Instead of stenciling that has been used for ages, this bottle was actually hand painted and is a true rarity. The only other time I have had the 1830, I felt extremely privileged to drink such a legendary wine such as this. This is truly one of the most celebrated and rare Madeiras and one of the very few I have ever had from this producer. In 2003, I had a bottle of the 1827 Quinta do Serrado Bual which was a wonderful treat, but I liked this 1830, even better. It shows a dark black tea like color with a beautiful amber hue on the edge. What a nose, depicting butterscotch, burned sugar and caramel that really was incredible. As much as I loved nosing this beauty in the glass, it was even more expressive on the palate. In possession of thick and almost syrupy viscosity, it had plenty of acid to keep things focused. I was most impressed by the velvety caramel and sweet hazelnut nuances along with the concentration and structure which showed the greatness of this wine, with layer upon layer of unctuous nectar. The complexity was not lost after the mind blowing mid-palate, as this delivered a wonderfully rich and intense finish. For my palate, it was clearly the greatest Madeira of the tasting. 98 pts. Wow! - Roy Hersh


Andrew Jackson was President when this 1830 was born.


1832 Acciaioly Terrantez Special Reserve


1832 Acciaioly Terrantez Special Reserve

Price: $2550.00           Sale $2244

Quantity in Stock: 1


Tarrantez is a very rare varietal and produces one of the most profound of all the wines that I have tasted from Madeira.


1837 Acciaioly Special Bual Reserve Madeira


1837 Acciaioly Special Bual Reserve Madeira

Price: $2100.00           Sale $1848

Quantity in Stock: 1


Bual is the English name for the Portuguese Boal. Bual is a white variety producing a medium sweet wine. The name was used for a whole group of grapes but today is usually connected with the Bual de Madeira also known as Boal Cachudo. Grown on the north side around São Vicente and on the south side at Campanário and Câmara de Lobos, it took over for Malmsey in many vineyards.  Michael Broadbent 5 Stars


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1864 Solera Gran Cama de Lobos Madeira Blandy

Price: $600.00 Sale $528

Quantity in Stock: 1


Abraham Lincoln was president when this wine was born.  This style of Madeira is pretty much extinct as the laws have changed regarding Solera in Madeira.  Today you have to bottle the entire Solera after the 10th time that you withdraw from the cask.  This Madeira was made similar in fashion to the wines of Sherry and in this case the oldest wine in the SOlera is 1864.  So this wine was bottled at several different times and it is always interesting to compare the Solera wines to the Vintage Madeira.  To me the solera wine has the best of both worlds- great acidity and immediate drinkability.  Cama do Lobos is the name of the fishing village that this wine comes from and this Madeira have several bottling and they do not list the type of Madeira that it is because it is not known for sure but this wine is thought to be a Bual or a Malvasia because of the sweetness level and it very well could be a blend.  Lovely brown spice, figs, dates and fudge notes on the nose.  Still quite fresh on the tongue with notes of coffee and dried tobacco on the finish, very elegant and smooth.  Most Excellent


1899 Blandy AO-SM Terrantez Vintage Madeira


1899 Blandy AO-SM Terrantez Vintage Madeira

Price: $2250.00           Sale $1980

Quantity in Stock: 1


 Tarrantez is a very rare varietal and produces one of the most profound of all the wines that I have tasted from Madeira. William McKinley was president when this wine was born.


1907 d'Oliveiras Malvazia Reserva Madeira


1907 D'Oliveiras Malvasia Reserva Madeira

Price: $1050.00           Sale $924

Quantity in Stock: 1


Theodore Roosevelt was president when this wine was born.  There is no such thing as -great" vintage in Madeira for the wines as they undergo such a radical transformation that when you put them into casks it could take 50-100 years or more for the wines to come out of their shell.  The two 1907 wines were crowd favorites on this night and I really liked them as well.  Bitter orange and noticeable Rancido character, VA, aka bottle stank, with an abundance of brown spices, figs and fudge on the nose.  Excellent +


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1910 Barbieto Sercial Madeira

Price: $412.00 Sale $363

Quantity in Stock: 7


William Taft was president when this wine was born.  Spicy savory orange peel, a bit of VA, well Madeira is off the charts with VA and some are well over the legal limit of 1.5% and Manny has been trying to get that limit raised to 2.0% as he has had issues getting certain bottles past the authorities.  This VA is a function of all the time that this wine spends in wood.  Notes of coffee and fudge and lovely freshness on the savory finish.  Excellent +


 


1912 D'Oliveiras Verdelho Madeira

Price: $575.00 Sale $506

Quantity in Stock: 1


Spicy savory orange peel, a bit of VA, well Madeira is off the charts with VA and some are well over the legal limit of 1.5% and Manny has been trying to get that limit raised to 2.0% as he has had issues getting certain bottles past the authorities.  This VA is a function of all the time that this wine spends in wood.  Notes of coffee and fudge and lovely freshness on the savory finish.  Excellent +


 


1914 Barbeito Bual Madeira

Price: $350.00 Sale $308

Quantity in Stock: 1


Bual is the English name for the Portuguese Boal. Bual is a white variety producing a medium sweet wine. The name was used for a whole group of grapes but today is usually connected with the Bual de Madeira also known as Boal Cachudo. Grown on the north side around São Vicente and on the south side at Campanário and Câmara de Lobos, it took over for Malmsey in many vineyards.


 


1920 Cossart Gordon Malmsey Madeira

Price: $1200.00           Sale $1056

Quantity in Stock: 1


 The Malvasia Candida grapes used to make this wine were grown at sea level (where these Malvasia Candida grapes once thrived) on an outcropping shelf lying directly beneath a steep vertical cliff. This cultivar was extinct as of the mid-20th century. A few years ago, one single vine of the Candida was discovered in a patch of cactus. The 1920 Cossart-Gordon shows a light maple color, mild and engrossing VA, dry tea, toffee and sweet caramel aromas. Big, bold, balanced and elegant. Plenty of acid and an incredibly long and lively finish with a touch of butterscotch. This wine will outlive my grandchildren (my daughter just turned two years old). 97 pts. - Roy Hersh


 


1920 Blandy Bual Madeira

Price: $975.00 Sale $858

Quantity in Stock: 1


Michael Broadbent: "Amber; crème brûlée, vanilla and mint; medium-sweet, delicate, fragrant." (05/90)


 


1922 D'Oliveira Bual Madeira

Price: $531.00 Sale $467.28

Quantity in Stock: 1


The company of Pereira D’Oliveira (Vinhos), Lda. was founded in 1850 by Joao Pereira d’Oliveira. He started as a partidista who produced wines to later sell them to other shippers. For example part of the famous 1908 Bual was sold to the MWC and so today this wine is offered under the Cossart Gordon label as well. Since 1974 Pereira D'Oliveira have started to market their wines themselves. Associated are Joao Joaquim Camacho and Augusto Cunha; from both companies very few bottles made it into the 21st century.


Pereira D’Oliveira (Vinhos), Lda. today is a small size family company that is still run by the descendents of the founders family. The current annual production of wine is 1.500 hectolitres; the winemaking is done in Sao Martinho. The company owns some vineyards but most of the grapes are bought from selected farmers. Part of the ageing wine is also stored in the Rua dos Ferreiros where the company has its lodge with sales room and office.

Madeira Wine Guide


 


1927 Leacock's Bastardo Madeira

Price: $1800.00           Sale $1584

Quantity in Stock: 1


This is the only black grape that we had on the table as almost all of the noble Madeira varietals are made from white grapes.  After years in cask it is hard to tell the color of the varietal as all of these wines will turn and amber brown color. 


 


1944 Barbeito Madeira Malvasia

Price: $541.00 Sale $476.08

Quantity in Stock: 3


Malmsey, made from Malvasia grapes, is the richest and darkest-colored style with up to 4 percent residual sweetness.


 


1948 Barbeito Malvasia Madeira

Price: $295.00 Sale $259.60

Quantity in Stock: 3


Malmsey, made from Malvasia grapes, is the richest and darkest-colored style with up to 4 percent residual sweetness. 


 


1954 Barbeito Malvesia Madeira

Price: $292.00 Sale $257

Quantity in Stock: 4


(93 Points) Though not forthcoming in aroma, displaying butterscotch and hints of herbs, this has a seamless integration of components on the palate, balanced and harmonious, with vibrant acidity weaving throughout. Long finish, adding just a hint of dryness at the end. Gentle, with inner strength. Drink now. –BS Wine Spectator Issue: Apr 30, 1999


 


1968 D' Oliveira Bual Madeira

Price: $192.00 Sale $168.96

Quantity in Stock: 1


Broadbent: “****. Glorious nose, rich yet delicate, touch of vanilla. Flavour to match. Sweet, excellent acidity.”


Some everyday Madeira:


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Blandy's Madeira Verdelho 5 Year

Price: $27.00   Sale $23.76

Quantity in Stock: 8


"Gorgeous full-bodied mouth feel on the palate with slightly smoked rich creamy flavours and tones of honey, introduced by luxurious warm full orangey aromas. Simply delightful." International Wine Challenge


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Blandy's Madeira Bual 5 Year

Price: $27.00   Sale $23.76

Quantity in Stock: 4


 


“The Madeira Wine Company's bid for post- modern Madeira works surprisingly well in its flashy shocking pink-labeled 50cl bottle. They deliberately use shaved oak casks to increase the oaky component. Quite light but very vibrant and edgy and very, very definitely Madeira. Sappy, bright, you could drink this with some foods too”. Jancis Robinson


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Blandy's Madeira Alvada 5 Year (500 ml)

Price: $19.50   Sale $17.16

Quantity in Stock: 1


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Rare Wine Company Madeira Charleston Sercial

Price: $50.75   Sale $44.66

Quantity in Stock: 9


93 points Wine Enthusiast: "The Historic Series are simply great Madeiras at reasonable prices. The Charleston Sercial is the driest of the collection, offering nutty aromas tinged with honey, caramel and maple syrup. Dried figs, honey and candied citrus flavors mark the palate, which is wonderfully smooth. The long finish features racy yet balanced acidity. Editors' Choice."


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The Rare Wine Company Savannah Verdelho

Price: $50.75   Sale $44.66

Quantity in Stock: 10


The RWC historic Series Madeiras are a collaboration between The Rare Wine Company and Vinhos Barbeito. The goal here is to produce wines that evoke the mature vintage Madeiras of days long past. The various wines in the series are made up of a blend of younger varietal wines and older stocks. The Savannah Verdelho is the newest wine in the series. Produced from a blend of 10 year old Verdelho mixed with small quantities of 40-60 year old Tinta Negra Mole by Ricardo Freitas, grandson of the founder Mario Barbeito, this amber gold colored wine is barely sweet with rich walnut/almond aroma and flavor. Toasted barrel character on the finish adds to the complexity of this Madeira.


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NV New York Malmsey Maderia

Price: $54.00   Sale $47.52

Quantity in Stock: 2


This Malmsey has the deep color and classic toffee and caramel notes that make Malmsey such a favorite among Madeira lovers. It’s a perfect wine with which to finish a meal, and is fabulous with rich desserts, including chocolate. Production: 500 cases/yr.


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NV The Rare Wine Company Boston Bual Madeira

Price: $50.75   Sale $44.66

Quantity in Stock: 4


This elegant Bual shows the classic notes of citrus peel and cinnamon. Its moderate sweetness, combined with good acidity, makes it not only a wonderful after-dinner wine, but versatile for dessert pairing. Production: 400 cases/yr.


 


 A brief description of the different types of Madeira


Sercial

The English name Sercial is used for the Portuguese Cerceal, but the grape used on the island of Madeira is not to be confused with the Cerceal do Dao. Sercial was not grown very much after Phylloxera, but the number of vineyards with Sercial is growing again. They are the vineyards with the highest altitude, situated in Seixal and Ribeira da Janela on the northern coast of the island. Some people say that because of the high level of acidity Sercial is the same grape as the German Riesling, but this is certainly wrong from an ampelographic point of view.


The grapes are very compact, about 18cm long, weighing 170grams. This variety ripens late, producing a wine with volatile fruit and good, sometimes burning acidity. The medium-size leaves have a hairy undersurface and are made of three main parts in the middle with one smaller part to each side.


The high level of acidity makes Sercial almost undrinkable in its youth. In the 16th century, this wine was called "Esgana Cão" - dog-strangler. To obtain a maximum aroma as a counterpart, Sercial is harvested as the last of the grapes, often as late as the beginning of October. Sercial has to mature for a long time, before it is drinkable. The minimum of twenty years in cask for vintages will just be enough to soften the piercing acidity. Once this wine has found its balance, it makes a perfect aperitif but it can also hold its own very well. On the island, Sercial is often served with soup, nuts, crackers or other snacks. The cocktail "Madeira on the Rocks" is made of 2/3 dry Madeira of a lesser quality and 1/3 Campari. Sercial also goes well after Champagne.


A vintage Sercial wine usually has a color of a golden tawny, similar to old German Riesling wines. The nose might display some high volatile acidity. Young Sercials often have a range of fruit aromas with a focus on orange and lemon, but as the wine matures this can shift to a more nutty and turpentine like taste, again similar to old Rieslings. A high level of acidity will be present in most Sercials, which will make this wine a good before-dinner drink. Also I prefer it after a meal to cleanse the palate.


Verdelho

Verdelho is also a white grape, the taste being medium dry, tasting between Sercial and Bual. Just like the other Castas Nobres it was very little grown until 1980, when it began being planted again. Verdelho, also known as Gouveio in Portugal, gives a medium dry wine. The grape is also cultivated in Australia. There also is a red variety of Verdelho, the Verdelho Tinto. Verdelho is grown on the south side of the island from Funchal west to Estreito de Câmara de Lobos. On the north side it is grown in the more sheltering pergola style in Ribeira de Janela and São Vicente.


The grapes are larger than Sercial, about 20cm long. They are good table grapes and give a mild wine with slightly nutty flavor, becoming drier as it matures. The vine is very strong and relatively high and difficult to cultivate. The leaves are of medium size with small hairs on both surfaces.


Verdelho is the main ingredient of a medium dry light wine called "Rainwater" which is very popular in the United States. The cheaper qualities are made from Tinta Negra Mole. The legend around the name tells that the contents of a shipment to Savannah, Georgia, were diluted when a heavy rain hit the casks still standing on the beach. The recipient of the shipment liked the lighter taste and ordered more. Verdelho is also used to make the Atlantis White, one of the two official table wines made on the island.


The color of Verdelho is about the same of Sercial, sometimes a little darker. It does not have the piercing acidity of Sercial but displays a more rounded taste. The nose has dried fruits and honey that are also evident on the palate and sometimes there are also a little coffee and chocolate.


Bual

Bual is the English name for the Portuguese Boal. Bual is a white variety producing a medium sweet wine. The name was used for a whole group of grapes but today is usually connected with the Bual de Madeira also known as Boal Cachudo. Grown on the north side around São Vicente and on the south side at Campanário and Câmara de Lobos, it took over for Malmsey in many vineyards.


The grapes are large, heavy and are good table grapes because of their sweet aroma. The medium sized vine has three-part leaves like the Sercial.


Bual is a good start for those having their first experience with Madeira wine. It is medium sweet but not to sticky, very aromatic with some acidity balancing the sweetness. Do not let yourself be fooled by the color which tends to be the darkest of all Madeira wines. The nose has richness and aromas of barley sugar and the palate often has some additional caramel and coffee aromas as well as dried fruits like orange peel or apricot.


Malmsey

Malmsey is the most famous Madeira wine for sure. The English name Malmsey is used for the white Malvasia grape which has its roots in the Greek islands. Malvasia, or more precise, Malvasia Candida spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and went down in numbers in the Baroque period. However, around the world sweet and fortified wines are still made from all sorts of different members of the Malvasia family, like the white Malvasia Bianchi di Chianti, Malvasia Toscana, Malvasia Istriana, Malvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia Sarda, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia Candida, Malvasia Rei, Malvasia Bianca and the greek Malvazia as well as from the red Malvasia Nera and Malvasia di Carsorzo.


The large grapes with small elliptic berries weigh up to 400 grams and are grown on high and solid vines. The grapes are liked for their sweet aroma as table grapes. The variety ripens fast but can stay on the vine for a long time as they do not easily rot. The vineyards are the lowest in altitude, about 250 m above sea level. The grapes are grown in São Jorge and Santana on the north coast and in Câmara de Lobos and Estreito de Câmara de Lobos on the south coast. The leaves are made of five parts equal in size.


There are many stories around Malmsey which was exported as early as the 15th century. On the European continent the widely grown Malvasia of the Middle Ages had already found many friends like Martin Luther and minnesinger Oswald von Wolkenstein. In times when sugar was not known, this golden and sweet liquid sun fascinated the people. When later the more robust Madeira Malmsey entered the market, it was a complete success. It combined sweetness and aroma with good keeping and easy handling like no other wine.


In 1478 the Duke of Clarence preferred death by drowning himself in a cask of Malmsey to the death by sword. In the works of William Shakespeare's you can find many hints to Malmsey. In "Henry IV" Poins accuses the Prince of Wales to have sold his soul for a glass of Malmsey and a chicken leg. One of John Falstaff’s drinking friends is named after his Malmsey-reddened nose. Even Napoleon, stopping over on the island on his way into exile on St. Helena in 1815, took some Malmsey to brighten his days. Before, on his military operations, he had also carried some Malmsey with him. In the 19th century Malmsey really came en vogue. There was the "Morning Malmsey" to begin the day and many other rituals revolving around the golden wine. Even today, long after Oidium and Phylloxera, a good Malmsey crowns a perfect meal like no other wine. It also makes a good vino da meditazione. The combination with coffee, cookies or nuts is classical, as is the taste together with a very good bitter chocolate. But also on its own, Malmsey itself is an excellent desert. António Batalha Reis said: An elixir to be drunken by the gods, no drink for mere mortals! Even Goethe used to sip on his Malmsey, sitting in the cellar of the famous -Elephant" hotel in Weimar.


An old Malmsey vintage will just be a little lighter in color than Bual. The nose is all toffee, vanilla and sometimes even beef bouillon. The palate has toffee and vanilla as well, added by marmalade sweetness and -some say- a distinctive taste of cough syrup.


Terrantez

This white, medium dry, sometimes rather sweet variety is hardly grown anymore. You can sometimes still find it in old vintages or soleras. Unfortunately the total harvest of Terrantez does not even fill a complete cask of wine, usually containing a little above 500 liters. Efforts are underway to replant this grape, but since it is difficult to work with and yields rather low quantities, the growers are not very enthusiastic about replanting it. The Terrantez vintage wines mainly come in two different styles. One style is on the rich and rather sweet side, as used by the Madeira Wine Company. The other style is very dry, still rich though, a little like a rich Sercial, but without the strong lemon flavor. A characteristic of Terrantez is a certain bitterness at the end of the finish that reminds me of burnt coffee and ashes. A Portuguese proverb says "As uvas de Terrantez, não as comas nem as dês, para vinho Deus as fez." meaning: The grapes of Terrantez are not for eating, nor to give them away, but for wine god created them.

The Terrantez grape is my favorite variety for Madeira wine, because with this particular grape, Madeira wine seems to be at its best. Examples like the Acciaioly 1802 or the Blandy 1846 show the enormous potential of the grape, the caleidoscope of aromas and the ability to gain in complexity over the centuries.


Bastardo

This variety is still widely grown in Portugal and is identically with the French Trousseau. It is also a grape in the Douro valley used for Port. It is the only red grape among the Castas Nobres and nowadays you can only find it in old vintages and soleras. To my knowledge only miniscule amounts are grown these days. But some glorious old vintages do exist and of course there is the vintage of 1927 which produced excellent Bastardo wines. Even though Bastardo is a sweet grape, the style of the vintage wines is often on the dry side. It also has some bitterness at the end of the finish.


Moscatel

Moscatel is the white wine of the Moscatel of Alexandria grape, one of the lower quality varieties of the Muscat/Moscatel family, counted among the castas boas. It is apparently no longer grown in significant quantities, but you can still find it in some old vintages. Pereira D´Oliveira has a few different Moscatel vintages and some vintages of other producers are still around at auctions from time to time.


Listrão

Listrão is one of the authorized varieties for Madeira wine and is cultivated in small quantities on the neighboring island of Porto Santo. Barros e Sousa makes a five year old fruity wine of Listrão.


Old Wine

This does not name a grape variety but a vintage that does not consist of one single grape variety as the rules of the IVM say. This happens, when a year was good enough to declare it as a vintage but the yields of the different varieties were not enough to put them in cask and mature them at an affordable cost. In this case, as an example Bual and Malmsey will be matured together as "Old Wine" since the regulations don't know a Bual-Malmsey vintage. Sometimes Tinta might be added as well. Blends of different grape varieties are not uncommon anymore. The Alvada wine of the Madeira Wine Company is a blend of Malmsey and Boal. The Barbeito company has also made some wonderful blended wines from different grape varieties.


Tinta Negra Mole

Tinta is a red grape and is very versatile. Often called the working horse amongst the different varieties, it is one of the reasons for the decline of Madeira wine in the 19th and 20th century. It is counted among the Castas Boas, the good varieties. Tinta or TNM is grown around Funchal, São Vicente and Câmara de Lobos and is the most widely grown grape on the island. About 3/4 of the total production is Tinta. Depending on the height of the vineyard and the processing of the wine it can imitate the other varieties to a great degree. This makes Tinta so tempting for many producers, but the class of the other traditional varieties is said to be not fully reached by Tinta. The grape is a cross of Pinot Noir and Grenache. Some vineyards with Tinta are cleared today and replanted with other traditional vines, but it is still widely used, especially for the three year old blends.


However Tinta is not of low quality, as many good three, five and even some ten year old blends show. According to many wine professionals it simply does not quite reach the excellent quality of the other grapes. My personal belief is that it has great potential as long as it is well cared for. Some of the modern colheitas and harvest wines are made entirely of Tinta grapes and they show the great abilities of this grape very well. Also it has been added to vintage Madeira wines throughout the 19th and 20th century in small amounts up to 5 percent, since the wine made from TNM offered a certain neutrality that made it easy to add, without changing the original wines nose and palate. Since it is easy to grow, more wine of the medium qualities like older blends and the non-frasqueira vintage wines will be made from Tinta. I think we are going to be very surprised in the future about how good Tinta can really be.


The vine is robust with durable wood, medium size leaves and small black berries. The must is red at first but the estufagem procedure clears the color so that it acquires a green-white shine. Besides being used for blends, selected Tinta grapes from Campanário are also used for the Atlantis Rosé.


 


Line-up for our Vintage Madeira Tasting on Friday November 30th


 


1910 Barbieto Sercial Madeira

Price: $412.00


Spicy savory orange peel, a bit of VA, well Madeira is off the charts with VA and some are well over the legal limit of 1.5% and Manny has been trying to get that limit raised to 2.0% as he has had issues getting certain bottles past the authorities.  This VA is a function of all the time that this wine spends in wood.  Notes of coffee and fudge and lovely freshness on the savory finish.  Excellent +


 


1802 Acciaoly Terrantez Vintage Madeira

Price: $5250.00


Tarrantez is a very rare varietal and produces one of the most profound of all the wines that I have tasted from Madeira. It is not quite as sweet as the Bual or Malmsey but would be considered one of the sweeter styles.


Michael Broadbent 5 Star, Roy Hersh (99 Points) Perfect Profound, bottled in 1980's one of the greatest of all the Madeira, Extremely rare, very few bottles still exist of this wine and we are going to drink one on November 30th at our vintage madeira tasting!!


 


1864 Solera Gran Cama de Lobos Madeira Blandy

Price: $600.00


This style of Madeira is pretty much extinct as the laws have changed regarding Solera in Madeira.  Today you have to bottle the entire Solera after the 10th time that you withdraw from the cask.  This Madeira was made similar in fashion to the wines of Sherry and in this case the oldest wine in the Solera is 1864.  So this wine was bottled at several different times and it is always interesting to compare the Solera wines to the Vintage Madeira.  To me the solera wine has the best of both worlds- great acidity and immediate drinkability.  Cama do Lobos is the name of the fishing village that this wine comes from and this Madeira have several bottling and they do not list the type of Madeira that it is because it is not known for sure but this wine is thought to be a Bual or a Malvasia because of the sweetness level and it very well could be a blend.  Lovely brown spice, figs, dates and fudge notes on the nose.  Still quite fresh on the tongue with notes of coffee and dried tobacco on the finish, very elegant and smooth.  Most Excellent


 


What I Drank Yesterday  -  Priorat Wine Tasting Review


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This tasting is an annual event and it has been a few weeks now since the event but once again the wines from this Prehistoric region of Spain have gained some new fans here at the Wine Watch.


A special thanks to Mark Diamond from Christopher Cannon Selections and to Tal Cohen from what is formerly known as Selected Brands for helping out with this event.


For those of you that could not make it here are some of my tasting notes on the wines.


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2011 Herencia Altes Garnacha Blanca      

Price: $11.75 Sale $10.34 Case $120


Garnacha Blanc 100%.  A chalk like mineral nuance to the green melon and white floral notes, light and simple bouquet, very pleasant.  A fresh and clean wine on the palate with green apple and lime citrus leaves the tongue salivating for food nice freshness and a hint of salt on the finish.  Finish 35+          Very Good


 


2008 Terroir Al Limit Pedra De Guix Priorat      

Price: $64.50 Sale $56.76 Case $658


A blend of Garnacha Blanca, Pedro Ximinez, and Macabeo. It is sourced from vines ranging in age from 48-78 years. The wine is aged for 24 months in 500-liter casks and bottled without fining or filtration.  Made in partnership with Eben Sadie from South Africa.  Licorice spice, anise, dried pineapple on the nose very complex array of aromas and very concentrated on the palate with a texture of cream and a long finish spicy and long with excellent freshness.  Finish 45+ Most Excellent


 


2009 Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica 

Price: $11.75 Sale $10.34 Case $120


Notes of raw meat, ripe cherry fruit and pretty rose petal floral notes.  A very fruity rose but still finishes bone dry with red cherry, rose petal and light spice very pretty stuff.  Finish 35+       Very Good +


 


2009 Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica "Old Vines"  Monsant         

Price: $12.75 Sale $11.22 Case $130


A blend of 80% Garnacha and 20% Syrah aged for 9 months in French and American oak.  Fresh berry pie nose, cherry, cranberry and red plum with pretty floral and fresh earth notes, light but somewhat complex, also a bit of toasty oak, nicely balanced aromatics.  Light red berry fruit on the tongue with silky smooth tannins and nice freshness some of those herbal and floral notes showing on the finish a bit dry but nicely balanced.  Finish 35+            Very Good


 


2010 Bula Monsant  

Price: $12.50 Sale $11 Case $128


A blend of Mazeulo, Grenache and Syrah.  Lots of black plum and black cherry fruit on the nose with a charred wood note and espresso and black licorice.  A big wine on the palate with quite a bit of tannins and some of that animal from the Mazuelo or Mourvedre as it is known as in France, some perfumed floral notes to the finish, incense, very pretty and nicely balanced but a bit dry on the finish.  Finish 40+        Very Good +


 


2010 Altes Garnacha Negra Terra Alta     

Price: $11.75 Sale $10.34 Case $120


This region is the south west corner of Catalunia, this wine is 100% varietal and has a wild and gamey note to the red cherry and roasted game like quality.  Smooth and round on the palate with zesty acidity making it seem a bit light but has lots of flavor, that smoky meaty notes on the finish and light red cranberry like fruit.  Finish 40+  Very Good +


 


2008 Celler de l'Encastell Marge Priorat

Price: $21 Sale $18.48 Case $214      


Marge is made up of 60% Garnacha with the balance Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 8 months in French and American oak.  A bit of a gravelly musty like nuance to the nose, cherry and currant berry fruit on the nose some exotic spice and floral notes showing on the nose.  Bright and fresh on the palate with a good amount of that floral perfume and fresh slate like earth showing through the finish.  A light and easy drinking wine.  Finish 40+            Very Good +


 


2006 Mas Doix Salanques Priorat  

Price: $32.75 Sale $28.82 Case $334


The Salanques cuvee is the second wine of Celler Mas Doix, a barrel by barrel declassification from Mas Doix itself this wine is usually one of the best entry level Priorat wines available for under $30.  The 2006 Salanques is a blend of 65% Garnacha, 15% Carinena, and the balance Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 14 months in French oak.  Richly concentrated bouquet of dark cherry, asphalty, black licorice and that slate llicorella soils shining through the glass along with fresh flowers and dark spices, a bit hot but is still savory at the end- it wears it well.  Finish 40+       Excellent +


 


2007 Mas D'en Compe Planots Priorat      

Price: $102 Sale $89.76 6pk $520


Celler Cal Pla’s 2007 Mas d’En Compte Planots was sourced from a single 100+-year-old vineyard. The wine is composed of 50% Garnacha and 50% Carinena aged for 16 months in new French oak.  A very well endowed wine on the nose with smoke and a minty herbal nuance to the blackberry liqueur like fruit soy and dark spices very complex bouquet.  Wow- big and spicy on the tongue but still has a good amount of acidity leading into a tangy finish echoing that dark spice and floral/herbal nuance on the nose through the finish.  Finish 50+ Most Excellent


 


2005 Cellers Ripoll Sans Closa Batllet Grattalops

Price: $110.25 Sale $97.02 Case $1125


A good amount of that slate like minerality here with fresh flowers and exotic spices, black raspberry liqueur like fruit very well endowed bouquet of aromas.  Very rich on the palate with an almost liqueur like quality to the texture, a bit hot and syrupy but still has good freshness those exotic spices echoing through the finish along with a roasted game like quality.  Finish 45+            Excellent +


 


2008 Mas Doix Costers Vielle Vigne Priorat         

Price: $127.50 Sale $112.20 Case $1300


Dark cherry liqueur and a dried plum almost prune like character along with licorice spice and a host of exotic spices to the nose sweet black soy, Asian spices and dark earth, slate like mineral.  Thick and chewy on the tongue with liqueur like concentration and a host of fresh bouquet of flowers and mineral slate like nuance very intense but still quite fresh and savory on the finish, this wine needs a bit of time but has real potential.  Finish 50+          Most Excellent


 


2009 Familia Nin-Ortiz Planetes de Nin     

Price: $45                    Sale $39.60     Case $459


A bit of a roasted game and a clay like minerality to the raspberry coulis and fresh flowers on the nose very pretty.  Smooth and round on the tongue with ripe tannins, a very drinkable style, typical Priorat perfume and floral notes and incense like spice.  Finish 40+      Excellent


 


2008 Clos Figueras Font de la Figueres     

Price: $37.50               Sale $33                      Case $383


Thick blackberry and black raspberry coulis like fruit on the nose with slate and fresh earth black spice, soy and exotic spices.  Thick and chewy on the tongue with ripe round tannins, concentrated and rich on the tongue with dark spices and a long fresh finish.  Finish 40+          Excellent


 


2007 Clos Figueras Clos Figueres   

Price: $88.50               Sale $77.88                  Case $903


Very pretty nose, lavender floral notes with strong slate mineral notes to the blackberry liqueur like fruit, exotic spices licorice.  Big and chewy on the tongue but still lovely freshness balanced and long finish very rich but balanced with an array of floral notes and spice through the finish.   Finish 45+      Excellent +


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2008 Clos Mogador Priorat

Price: $96                    Sale $84.48                 Case $979


The flagship 2008 Clos Mogador.  It is made up of 40% Garnacha, 20% Carinena, with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  Dense and rich with lots of exotic spices, black cherry liqueur, licorice and bitter chocolate, espresso and more very complex array of aromas.  Smooth and silky on the tongue with layers of spice and that slate like minerality showing through the finish very long and layered, with excellent freshness and balance.  Finish 50+            Most Excellent

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