Category Archives: Madeira

Madeira: Wine World Glory/ Patriotic July 4 Choice

One of my single favorite types of wine comes from a volcanic island 400 miles off the coast of North Africa that has belonged to Portugal since its “discovery” by Europeans in the 1400s. It is a fortified wine that comes in a variety of styles—from very dry to very sweet—but that is always supported by lively acidity. Older versions are among the world’s most complex wines, with very long finishes, that inevitably leave a big impact on a first-time taster. They also, apropos of our upcoming July 4th holiday, were, by far, the most popular wine in the American colonies. Continue reading

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Visit from the Wine World’s Greatest Island: Madeira’s Top Five Producer/Exporters

During the course of the day, I tasted 41 Madeiras from five of the island’s major producer/exporters. The oldest was the stunning and powerful 1912 D’Oliveiras Verdelho. Fifteen of the wines were vintage Madeiras–wines that must spend at least 20 years in cask, and that often spend decades more than that in old neutral oak barrels before being bottled for release. We also tasted many blended Madeiras, from Rainwater to five, 10 and 15 year old bottlings, and special proprietary blends. The day’s tastings verified my opinions of some of these producers, whose wines I’ve sampled many times before, and gave me some new insights into what’s happening in the tiny but incredibly special world of fortified wine production on the volcanic island that lies much closer to the coast of North Africa than it does to Portugal and Europe. Continue reading

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Book Review: Expanded 2nd Edition of Noël Cossart’s Madeira: The Island Vineyard

I just received a copy yesterday of the expanded second edition of one of my all-time favorite wine books, Noël Cossart’s Madeira: The Island Vineyard. This second edition contains new material by Emanuel Berk, including a lengthy new introduction and several new, informative appendices. Continue reading

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Lifetime Top Wines

To date, my top 15 wines, wines that I’ve rated 99 points or higher, are dominated by some of the world’s priciest first growth Bordeaux, rare vintage Madeira, and powerful, great Rhônes. There’s six Bordeaux, four vintage Madeiras, and three from the Rhône. There’s also one Napa Cab on the list–the ’93 Screaming Eagle–and a single Port, the exquisite 1994 Quinta do Noval Nacional. Continue reading

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Top 21 Wines of 2010

I have been a very, very lucky guy this year. Out of the 4,923 wines on which I’ve recorded notes, 21 were so extraordinary I gave them scores of 97 points or higher. That’s less than half a percent of the wines I tasted this year, but what an amazing, memorable collection of wines they were. One of them, the 1994 Quinto do Noval Nacional, rated a perfect score. Another rated 99, while six merited 98 points and 13 more received 97s. Continue reading

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Salute to American Independence Day: A Vintage Madeira Mystery

I had the opportunity this afternoon, thanks to K&L’s Gary Westby , to sample a couple of very old bottles of vintage Madeira: an 1880, and an 1842 Terrantez. Since vintage Madeira was very popular amongst wine drinkers in the American colonies at the type of the Revolutionary War, and it is said that the Declaration of Independence we celebrate on July 4th was toasted with it, I thought that sampling two vintage Madeiras (albeit mysterious ones) on the eve of the 4th of July was a particularly auspicious way to begin this particular holiday weekend. Continue reading

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Visit to 2 Small Madeira Producers: Fajã dos Padres and Fernandes Family

On our last full day in Madeira on Roy Hersh’s FTLOP 2010 Fortification Tour, we visited two very small traditional Madeira producers who are still making fantastic vintage Madeira the old fashioned way, from older plantings of the traditional noble varietals. Continue reading

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