Wednesday, December 6, 2017

More John Adams & Blandy's Madeira Wine - 10 Year Old Malmsey and Sercial

“I drank Madeira at a great Rate and found no Inconvenience in it.” — John Adams Diary 1774. Thursday. September. 22.
The founding fathers sure enjoyed their Madeira, a fortified dessert wine produced in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. Our second President was extremely fond of this beverage and recently A Museum Just Uncovered 221-Year-Old Wine Meant to Honor John Adams's Presidency. One reason behind their affection for Madeira was that the wine was also able to travel long distances without spoiling. And in fact, the long sea voyages actually transforms the flavor of the wine by exposing it to heat and movement.

One historical producer is Blandy's Madeira, a family owned winery that has been operating continuously for over two centuries. In 1989 they partnered with the Symington Wine Family to form the Madeira Wine Company (MWC).  MWC utilizes two maturation processes. The first is called Armazém de Calor where the wine is "stored in large wooden casks in a specially designed room outfitted with steam-producing tanks or pipes that heat the room, creating a type of sauna. This process more gently exposes the wine to heat, and can last from six months to over a year".  Second, during the aging process the wine is aged " in seasoned American oak casks in the traditional ‘Canteiro’ system, whereby the casks of this wine are gradually transferred from the top floors of the lodge, where it is naturally warmer, to the middle floors and eventually to the ground floor where it is cooler. During this totally natural ageing, the wine underwent regular racking before finally being bottled".

I recently received samples of two Blandy's wines, both crafted using the "Canteiro" system and fermented using natural yeast which was halted after four days with the grape brandy fortification. There are several approved grape varieties for Madeira wine such as Tinta Negra, Sercial, Verdelho, Terrantez, Bual (Malvasia Fina), and Malvasia (usually Malvasia Branca de São Jorge).

The first wine was the Blandy’s 10 Year Sercial Madeira ($30). The light copper color foreshadows a lighter bodied wine that does contain a surprisingly abundant supply of salty nuts and dried fruit followed by fresh acids. I envision a nightly apéritif.

The second was their Blandy’s 10 Year Old Malmsey Madeira ($30). The wine is named after the vat of wine that the Duke of Clarence drowns in in Richard III. And it clearly satisfies the founders affinity for Madeira wine. Dried fruits is the initial dominant flavor, followed by raisins, nuts, and subtle chocolate. The sweetness is neither gritty or jammy and the tangy acidity balances the sugar seamlessly. A nightcap for sure. Cheers
Post a Comment