Blandy's Madeira Tasting and Dinner with Bordeaux Index

The following wines were all served though a dinner organized by Bordeaux Index (now officially called BI) at Pied-a-Terre in London. I arrived with all the symptoms of a really heavy cold but, being madeira, the wines managed to penetrate this. As a result my notes are a bit sketchy and, my judgement impaired, I did not award marks, but there were some impressive wines helped by some innovative food pairings. My late father-in-law, Richard Blandy, always used to advocate drinking Bual with a curry but the food on offer at this dinner was considerably more sophisticated. Terrantez with roast quail (being a touch caramelised) was a revelation. I think that the flight of Bual wines with blue cheese was perhaps the weakest partnership – maybe a curry would have been better in my circumstances that night!  The main course (herb encrusted venison) was accompanied by a rather good Quinta do Vesúvio 2011 Douro red, a magnificent vintage for Port and unfortified wines throughout Portugal.  The wines are listed in the order they were served with the food pairings below each flight.  It goes to show that madeira is a much more versatile wine than it is often made out to be.

I am very grateful to friend and fellow madeira fan Tom Chadwick of BI for inviting me to this dinner and I am sorry if  my demeanour did not quite live up to the occasion.   

Blandy’s 10 Year Old Verdelho 

Mid-amber colour; clean, gentle, demure toasty aromas, similarly gentle on the palate, crisp acidity with a touch of pepper and spice

Blandy’s 1998 Colheita Verdelho

Pale-to-mid-amber; gentle toffee and butterscotch on the nose; seemingly quite sweet in style with toffeed richness offset by penetrating acidity, long, linear and refined. 

Blandy’s 1984 Verdelho (bottled 2010) 

Deep red-tinged amber; rancio nose, rather cheesy (brie and biscuits), quite powerful and pungent; rich, thick cut marmalade flavours with a bitter-sweet finish. Better on the palate than on the nose.  

All of the above served with Celeriac, Apple, Walnut, Belper Knolle and Truffle Salad.

Blandy’s 20 Year Old Terrantez

Pale amber; fragrant and floral with a touch of toffee underlying; quite soft initially on the palate, very clean with zesty lemon and lime marmalade character.  Long and lithe.

Blandy’s 1977 Terrantez

2000 bottles of this wine were bottled in 2015 and given new look by Blandy’s with each bottle numbered and identified lodge no.1 sul, Cask nos 24213 & 24207.  Deep amber with a reddish tinge; rich, lifted caramelised aromas; soft, suave and mellifluous with a spicy-sweet finish and a bitter-sweet candied lemon peel twist. This wine also showed very well blind at a tasting for the World of Fine Wine (yet to be published).  

The above wines served with Norfolk quail, wild mushrooms, beetroot, goats cheese mousse. 

Blandy’s 30 Year Old Bual 

A blend of 7 wines varying from 15 to 49 years old: wonderfully lifted on the nose; sweet, richly textured yet lithe with acidity cutting across. Delicate and long. Very fine.  Outstanding in fact. 

Blandy’s 2002 Colheita Bual

Spirit still showing through on the nose with a touch of malt whisky character; soft, rich and suave on the palate. Lovely balance. 

Blandy’s 1966 Bual 

708 bottles filled in 2015: mid-deep amber/mahogany in hue; lovely, soft, quite rich, lifted / high toned aromas, crystalised fruit character with a hint of molasses, very fresh, long and linear in style.

All the above served with a selection of blue cheeses. 

Blandy’s 1996 Colheita Malmsey

Mid-amber in colour; soft and nutty, dried fruit, rich and suave in style. Very easy to drink and a lovely desert wine.

Blandy’s 1988 Malmsey

Mid-amber/mahogany; touch of rancio complexity on the nose with singed autumnal leaves, pungent and powerful with ravishing acidity to offset the raisiny richness. Long, fine and beautifully poised. 

The above served with Caramelia delice, pedro ximenez, honeycomb and vanilla ice cream. 

Blandy’s 1887 Verdelho 

One of 9 wines from the so called ‘demi-john selection’ bottled straight from glass demi-johns in 2013 with most wines being sold at Christie’s in London, in total just 300 bottles: deep red-tinged amber; lovely, lifted, slightly burnt, smoky aromas, thick-cut marmalade richness, yet quite dry in style with crisp, lithe acidity cutting across the richness and depth that comes with age, long and still remarkably fresh for a wine that is just post-phylloxera. Magnificent. I have a note that the wine made £450 at auction in December 2013.


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