These are the latest releases from Blandy’s range of Colheitas, a category that is increasing in significance by presenting a dated wine well before the twenty years required to qualify for frasqueira (vintage). The wines come from the 1998 harvest which, I am informed, was was defined by the pruning date. Those whom pruned early experienced a reduction in volume of around 30% compared to those who pruned in late March. The overall production of the Sercial and Verdelho varieties was very low, particularly on the north side of the island, but warm weather and low humidity ensured that fruit grown high in the mountains (Sercial) on the south side of the island benefitted from perfect ripening conditions.
Both these wines are from numbered American oak casks and aged on the traditional canteiro, being stored initially on the warmer second floor of the wine lodge until November 2009 before being transferred to the first floor. The wines were bottled in 2013 and have just been released.
Blandy, 1998 Colheita Sercial ****
Made from Sercial grapes grown in Seixal on the north side of the island and Jardim de Serra at 720 metres above sea level on the south: pale, golden amber colour; fine, clear, lifted aromas, gentle and leafy (characteristic Sercial); seemingly quite sweet for Sercial initially with a touch of toffee apple, then the brisk limey acidity cuts in, extending right across the palate, all the way through to a beautifully clear, clean filigree finish. A very fine, delicate expression of Sercial. 18
Blandy 1998 Colheita Verdelho ****
Produced from fruit sourced in the Raposeira area on the south side of the island at about 500 metres above sea level, an area know for producing some of the best Verdelho. This wine comes from the vintage ageing programme and after bottling 3,000 50cl bottles of this wine in 2013, the remaining wine has been left in cask to be bottled later as a vintage Madeira. Pale amber colour; fresh and delicate though not as yet very expressive on the nose; soft and quite rich initially, dried apricot fruit with the lovely texture and mouthfeel from cask age, the richness offset by exquisite acidity leading to a long, pure slightly honeyed finish. A lovely wine (this is perhaps the better of the two) with great potential as a vintage but if anything, still just a bit too young (hence my slightly lower score). 17
19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)
17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)
15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)
13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)
10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)
8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)
Below 8 Faulty