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Gillman
03-14-2011, 19:19
Madeira is a famous wine made on the island of the same name, a possession of Portugal. It figured in early American history, as an off-shoot of the significance it had in the British world. It comes in different degrees of sweetness, but the sweeter types are generally the better known. Malmsey is an example.

It is reputed for never going bad, in that, part of its production involves exposure to extreme heat, either in warehouses or barrels being rolled in the sun or both. (Particulars are easy to find on Wikipedia and similar sources). This derived from experience gained on ships: when Madeira was exported to hot climates, it was noticed it came into perfection, so later they emulated these techniques in a warehouse or other static environment to produce the same taste.

Mareira is a fortified wine (like sherry and port), that is, brandy is added to stiffen and help preserve it. Still, it doesn't exceed 20% ABV generally.

I can attest to its remarkable powers of preservation. About 10 years ago, I blended a 3 year old Madeira with a 15 year old of a different make. Since then, the bottle, now only 1/3rd full, has been moved around countless times, sits part of each day in the sun in an exposed bar (rattan-type two-level affair), gathers dust and is otherwise treated in a heedless fashion.

And yet, this blending tastes fresh as the new-born day. It has a slightly smoky, raisin-like palate, and is either as good as the day I blended it, or better. Yet, it has never been pasteurized or dosed with chemicals, never seen the inside of a fridge. I once read that, being exposed numerous extreme elements in its gestation stage, you can't hurt Madeira, all the bad things that can possibly happen have already occurred! Only spirits such as whiskey can resist time so effectively, and even that will succumb, ultimately. Madeira never will, it lasts forever or practically so. No wonder it was admired by pre-1800's connoisseurs.

It is still made, and while old vintages are around that cost a fortune, you needn't spend so much. Buy a 5 or 10 year old bottle, and enjoy a taste of history. Due to its natural oxidative properties and balance of sweet and acid, you can pretty much do your will to it, and it will respond by only being better.

Gary

White Dog
03-14-2011, 20:11
Even very old versions won't cost a fortune. Pre-WWII Madeiras can be had for less than a bottle of VVOF. I recently had a 1910 bottling that tasted wonderfully fresh. I believe the retailer was selling it for $300ish. We also had a 1936 which was selling for much less. Under $200 I believe.(The retailer is a friend who happens to be very generous.):cool:

Yes, some Madeira can be immortal. Not all, but some. As a general rule, it will outlive even vintage Port.

TNbourbon
03-14-2011, 21:05
Even very old versions won't cost a fortune. Pre-WWII Madeiras can be had for less than a bottle of VVOF. I recently had a 1910 bottling that tasted wonderfully fresh...
And Gary himself tasted -- two years running -- from a bottle of 1933 Justino Henriques Malmsey/Malvasia imported by Broadbent a few years back, at Sampler time. About the only thing that changed between tastings was the color. It didn't cost an exorbitant sum.

Gillman
03-15-2011, 04:56
Yes I recall well that wonderful Madeira from Tim.

Indeed Madeira may be the last good value still available in vintage wines.

Recently I added a touch of it to a blend I made of Green Spot, regular Jameson and Irishman 70, and it worked extremely well to marry the tastes.

Gary

T Comp
03-15-2011, 06:15
How about when George Washington was President? I was fortunate and will brag about tasting a 1795 Madeira, Terrantez of Barbeito, at a downright decadent wine party featuring three centuries of wine. There was also a Madeira from the 1800's but don't remember the specific date. Tasting notes are a blurry memory but the 1795 was orange in color, mighty tasty and had no off notes. The hit of the party though, among many very old first growth Bordeaux's was a 1918 double magnum from Chateau Haut Brion. One fascinating phenomena was also how quickly some of the older red wines from the 1920's or so would fade quite abruptly after only 10 minutes or so of air time. This particular wine party, about 5 years ago, was posted about on the Parker wine forum site which is now a pay site.

White Dog
03-15-2011, 06:59
Yes I recall well that wonderful Madeira from Tim.

Indeed Madeira may be the last good value still available in vintage wines.

Recently I added a touch of it to a blend I made of Green Spot, regular Jameson and Irishman 70, and it worked extremely well to marry the tastes.

Gary

Myself, and many others in the wine trade, would tell you that German Riesling remains the greatest of all values. Most pros regard Riesling as the king of all grapes, due to it's ability to show terroir, it's ageability, and the way it works at the dinner table.

And since it is still completely out of fashion, you can obtain top wines from top producers for a song. Estate Spatlese and Auslese for under $30 are easy to find. But since Americans equate sugar with plonk...:rolleyes:

CorvallisCracker
03-15-2011, 13:19
I can attest to its remarkable powers of preservation.

Some years ago I sampled some from the 1850s (that's right 18, not 19). Still good.



No wonder it was admired by pre-1800's connoisseurs.


I read somewhere (which is not to say it's true) that it was popular in what was to become the USA because it was exempt from the tax the British had imposed on wines imported from Europe (Madeira isles were considered to be Africa and therefore exempt).

Gillman
03-15-2011, 13:28
Very interesting and it is stunning to think that some people have tasted wines made back in the 1800's, amazing.

Gary

squire
03-15-2011, 18:06
This is one I never think about, maybe it's time.

wadewood
03-15-2011, 18:47
Trina & I were friends of a girl who was dating a member of the Cullen family (no not the Twilight Cullens, but think the Rockefeller's of Houston). On her birthday party dinner, we wound up back at his house and he opened a 150 year old Madeira, followed by one that was even older. This was 15 years ago - I know I would appreciate it way more today. Still, it was likely the most expensive drink that ever crossed my lips.

Josh
03-30-2011, 18:36
I've been a fan of Port for a few years now and I'm just starting a tiny collection of Vintage Port (I have a 2003 and I just picked up a 1994 for a very good price today). I've tried some Madeira but I've had mixed results.

All that to say...Any recommendations Gary, or anybody else?

Gillman
03-30-2011, 22:59
I like port a lot but have had only limited experience. In the vintage area, I think I have never had them really old enough.

Gary

Josh
03-31-2011, 04:15
I like port a lot but have had only limited experience. In the vintage area, I think I have never had them really old enough.

Gary

Sorry, I meant Madeira Recs. Anybody have any?

Gillman
03-31-2011, 04:37
Oh for that I have tried different producers, Justino Henriques is one and well-represented here. I'd go more by style and age than producer. A good blend at say 3 or 5 years old is a good start and probably these wines contain much older Madeira. Then I try some of the style classifications, there are 4 main ones ascending in order of sweetness, I like the last two, Boal or Malmsey. The old ones that last best are in either category, e.g., a 1960 or 1980 Boal by any producer should be a very interesting wine.

This is now making me think of bringing some of my blend of 3 and 15 year old Madeira to the next Sampler. I know I've mentioned different things I'd like to bring (part of the fun is thinking what to bring), but only 2 or 3 can come realistically so it may end up being the Madeira, a malt whisky blend, and a Sazerac blend, something like that.

Gary

DanG
07-20-2011, 00:48
Sorry for reviving another old thread, but it's on the first page, so...

I had the chance to visit Madeira back in April... if you can do it, I can't recommend it enough. The island is beautiful, and if you go into one of the Madeira wine houses, they let you try any wine you want for free before you pick the ones you want to buy. The food is also great there, with lots of fresh fish. And they have an interesting cocktail called a Poncha (sp?).

I only got to visit d'Oliveiras when I was there, but I've also had a Henriques&Henriques 10yo Boal (which I wasn't crazy about). I tasted a bunch of wines from 3 years to over 20 years on Madeira. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd even say it's worth trying the 5yo ones. They're okay, but you can get better port for less, in my opinion. Above 10 years, the wines increase greatly in complexity. The sweet Malmsey and Boal taste less sugary, revealing more of the grape... whereas the dryer Sercial softens a little bit and also releases more complexity.

Gillman
07-20-2011, 03:42
Sounds very good. Is that cocktail a mix of cocoa powder, Madeira and beer? Michael Jackson wrote of such a combination in one of his books. The chocolate powder was probably an attempt at duplicating a dark beer as I imagine originally the beer base was porter or dark lager. Port has been added traditionally to porter in England, so this may have have been a local variation. I think he said it was a fisherman's drink.

Gary

DanG
07-22-2011, 08:06
No, actually there's no wine in it at all. It does come from the fishing village near Funchal, though, so it is a fisherman's drink. I found a recipe here:
http://www.madeira-island.com/interactive/forums/read.php?1,1438,10500

but that's not how they made it in the bar to which our driver took us. As I recall, the ingredients were white rum, sugar (not honey), lemon, and fresh passion fruit. I think they put the sugar, lemon, and passion fruit in, and mashed it up with a wooden mallet before adding the white rum. It has a sharp and tangy flavor to it... it's absolutely delicious. The aguardente, as I guess the rum is called, is quite tasty too, even on its own.

Gillman
07-22-2011, 10:14
I wonder if that is some type of young brandy, distilled from grapes. But anyway it sounds much like a Caribbean punch (e.g. ti-punch in Saint Martin) made with a young, congeneric white rum. Makes sense because sailors probably carried these drinks around the world...

Gary

DanG
07-23-2011, 13:03
I think Madeira used to produce a lot more rum back in the day than it does now (though it still makes some). Apparently, it used to be the biggest sugar exporter in the world for some time in the 16th century. Now it's half bananas, half grapes. They do also have their own brewery, though. I guess when you live on a little island out in the Atlantic, you need you some drink!