OkieWineGirl

A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Madeira: My ‘Wow’ Wine Moment

Last evening, we attended a tasting at our local wine shop hosted by The Rare Wine Co. They specialize in old vintage wines and were pouring 6 offerings with the help of their rep Master Sommelier Anthony Anselmi. I throw his name out there encase anyone knows him. I adore name dropping whenever possible. 

All of the wines were Old World which gives me immediate recall issues on the where, whom and why but once I get my bearings on a wine I can sometimes remember. My brain picks up New World better. Anyway, my poor memory became irrelevant once I tasted the last wine poured. 

 

The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Charleston Sercial Madeira NV

19.5% Alc. Retail $50

This was my first Madeira and it hopefully won’t be my last. It’s produced by Vinhos Barbeito from the Island of Madeira, Portugal. 

It’s deep golden in color and powerfully aromatic.  So powerful on the nose that bourbon came to mind and I hesitated in tasting. Strong drink gives me a tummy ache. I braved it and took a sip.

And time stood still. I’m not joking. You all felt it right? Who else has experienced this after one sip? 

In that moment, I had my first ‘Wow’. It was magical. I’ve been fortunate to taste a few good wines over the years. Nothing of the famous cult variety but still very good. However, that little sip topped them all. Stupefied and stunned, I just kept looking at the glass.  Sniff and look. Sniff and look. I was clueless at that point as to where Madeira was located but I knew I was in love. The taste was nothing like the nose. Soft and dry with what I first thought was butterscotch but turned out to be caramel and a touch of saltiness. Delicious.

We had crammed the wine tasting in between a busy work day and rushing to a class at church but once I sipped the Madeira all thoughts of hurrying were gone. I wanted to draw out finishing it as long as possible and savor the moment. I’m making a note for future wine tastings to keep the schedule clear just in case a wonderful wine happens.  

This particular bottle is part of The Rare Wine Co. Historic Madeira series produced by the Barbeito family. The wines are named for U.S. cities where Madeira was super popular in the 18th and 19th century. They chose two cities in the south, Charleston and Savannah, which are drier Madeira and two cities in the north, Boston and New York, which are sweeter. Having a southern mama, I would have picked Charleston for sweet but historically the South preferred dry. 

Here’s a few info-bites I hastily gleaned about the wine I am now designating as the gift to give for all future weddings I might get to attend:

  1. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Madeira is a fortified wine which means it practically lasts forever making it a great anniversary tradition to save and sip each year. 
  2. High in alcohol. It can have between 19 – 22%. Another reason you might not finish the bottle in one sitting although it’s tempting. 
  3. As a landmass, Madeira is a mountainous island with mild temperatures. 
  4. The four current global Madeira wine producers survived by buying and stockpiling vintages during a 13 year phylloxera outbreak. The one we tasted was in barrel for 22 years. 
  5. Apparently, Japan really likes Madeira and buys lots of it. 
  6. It goes well with duck. (Thank you, Amy) 

Actually, it apparently goes well with lots of dishes for that matter. I’m thinking for Thanksgiving it’s goodbye Prosecco and Hello Madeira. The only thing stopping me is the price. Well, and the alcohol content. Other than that “if I were a rich man . . . yada yada yada” 

Cheers! 

6 Comments

  1. I have much more to learn. Only tasted a little and am inspired to explore further. Cheers!

  2. Great post! I haven’t tasted much Madeira but you’ve inspired me to put it on my list! Last month at the SWE conference I attended a session on wines from the Azores islands, which are similar in style. They were bright, complex wines that totally surprised me!

  3. I had that same wine after a marvelous dinner one night and I really enjoyed it. One just has to keep trying new wines.

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