Madeira Fest (from the 2000s back to the 1960s)

The following wines were sent to me in 20cl sample bottles by the Madeira Wine Company (MWC), producers of Blandy and Cossart Cordon madeiras (among others). They are all wines that have been bottled over the last two years and recently released for sale. I tasted them together over a weekend and re-tasted some of them two weeks later before writing up these notes, which are presented in the order they were tasted in. Where relevant I have included analytical information and retail prices in the UK. It is a great line up of wines and very encouraging for the future of Madeira to find relatively young wines of such a high calibre.  

Blandy’s Colheita Sercial 2002 ***/****

From a low yielding, late harvest, aged for 12 years before bottling in 2014: pale, orange tinged amber; fragrant, caramelised oranges on the nose with a touch of orange blossom and barley sugar; spirit very noticeable initially, gentle and rather less expressive on the palate than on the nose, piercing, dried apricot and lime marmalade finish. (54.6 g/l residual sugar).  A very pure expression of Sercial if lacking much of the complexity that comes from age in cask.  £46 for 50cl.  16.5

Blandy’s Colheita Bual 2003 ***

Pale-to-mid orange tinged amber; dusky floral and candied peel aromas, toasted round the edges; toast and marmalade character on the palate, savoury richness balanced by a streak of acidity (92 g/l residual sugar). A bit abrupt on the finish. Good wine, well balanced but still a youngster.  £46 for 50cl. 16       

Blandy’s Colheita Malvasia 1999 ****

Aged for 16 years before bottling in 2015, spending 5 years on the warmest top floor (the Sotão de Amendoa), 7 years on the second floor and 4 years on the cooler lowest floor, 8,000 bottles in total: mid-deep mahogany with an green-tinged amber rim; rich, gently lifted, figgy but not especially expressive on the nose; similarly rich and raisiny on the palate (130 g/l residual sugar), dates and dried figs with some depth and textural concentration from age in cask, rich yet fresh, clean finish. 17  

Cossart Gordon 1987 Bual ****/*****

 Lovely bright mid-deep amber hue with a touch of olive green on the rim; beautifully lifted butterscotch and malt aromas, richness and intensity of age evident with just a touch of rancio-like complexity underlying; reassuring Werther’s toffee and fudge richness offset by a beautiful streak rising in the mouth and extending all the way through to a long, pure, slightly smoky finish. Multi-faceted and very beautiful wine.  £147.62 for 75cl. Halves, magnums and double magnums also available. 18.5 

Blandy’s 1980 Terrantez ****

Terrantez is a real rarity on Madeira, particularly a wine of this age with the grape variety having been driven close to extinction in the 1970s. Lovely bright mid-amber colour; quite subdued on the nose with a slightly singed leafy aroma combining dates, dried figs and a touch of toffee; gentle initially on the palate with slightly singed crystallised fruits and a savoury-malty richness offset by a rising streak of acidity and a characteristic bitter-sweet twist on the finish. Beautifully clean yet with the complexity of age. £193.33 for 75cl.  Halves, magnums and double magnums also available.   18  

Blandy’s 1979 Verdelho ****

Bottled in 2015 after 36 years in cask, 5 years on the warmest top floor, 25 years on the second floor and 6 years on the coolest lower floor. Mid amber with a glint of red-mahogany; lifted but seemingly quite rich on the nose for verdelho with a touch of toffee and malt; smooth and suave initially (80.9 g/l residual acidity) with sub-tropical pineapple fruit acidity rising on the palate leading to a slightly dusty-astringent finish. 17.5  

 Blandy’s 1977 Terrantez ****

Bottled after 36 years in cask, 7 years on the warmest top floor of the lodge, 10 years on the second floor and 21 years on the coolest lower floor:  mid-deep amber with a reddish glint; lifted, caramelised orange aromas backed by a touch of rancio; quite rich and suave in style, especially for Terrantez (80.2 g/l residual sugar), the marmalade richness offset by a lovely streak of acidity leading to a powerful tangy finish with that characteristic bitter sweet twist. 17.5 

Blandy’s 1975  Sercial  **** / *****

Bottled in 2015 after spending 40 years in cask with 5 years on the warmest upper floor of the lodge, 20 years on the second floor and the remaining 15 years on the coolest lower floor: lovely bright, pale orange-amber colour; very fine, piercing Sercial aromas and flavours, grapefruit marmalade tang with a slightly smoky, savoury toasty edge, this is one of the purest and most expressive Sercial wines that I have tasted from this generation.  With 54g/l residual sugar, though seemingly just off dry on the finish, beautifully balanced and very finely poised. 18.5     

Blandy’s 1966 Bual  ****

Bottled in 2015 after spending 49 years in cask, with ten years on the warmest top floor of the lodge, 20 years on the second floor and 19 years on the coolest  lower floor: mid-deep amber with a thin olive green rim; rich and heady on the nose, dates and dried figs,  powerful concentration of age; similarly rich on the palate, dates, sultanas, raisins and a touch of Manuka honey, the richness offset by a streak of acidity extending all the way through the finish which is long  and fine. 18

Blandy’s 50 Year Old Malmsey  ****

A fascinating blend of wines including 1952, 1964, 1975 and 1978 taken from the demi-john collection, producing just 700 bottles in total: deep amber to mahogany in colour; rich butterscotch and thick cut marmalade character on the nose, not very expressive initially but coming out beautifully in the glass; similarly rich thick cut marmalade tang on the palate, just a touch of treacle (114.6 g/l residual sugar) combined with the finesse and freshness of a beautiful streak of acidity, powerful and multi-faceted.  18

Cossart Gordon 1962 Bual *****

Mid-deep amber in colour with a lovely, bright orange glint; gloriously expressive and heady on the nose, singed quince and barley sugar; similarly expressive on the palate, quince marmalade richness balanced by wonderful zesty acidity, beautifully clean and fresh on the finish, a wine with near perfect poise.  Outstanding.  19. 

Scoring

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