Madeira: One robust tipple – The wine that defies time

Madeira: One robust tipple

The Founding Founders lifted a glass of Madeira to toast the Declaration of Independence.

“Madeira played an important part” in early U.S. history, said Dave McIntyre in The Washington Post. Named for a Portuguese archipelago, this sweet fortified wine served as ballast for many early trans-Atlantic voyages, and the Founding Founders lifted it to toast the Declaration of Independence. Madeira is famed for its “indestructibility.” Cooked at 115 degrees when young, it lasts indefinitely after it’s opened.

1996 Broadbent Madeira Colheita ($50). This aged Madeira is “gorgeous and sweet,” with hints of orange peel and toasted hazelnut.

Broadbent Madeira Reserve 5 Years Old ($25). A wine that’s “richer than the 1996,” and nearly as complex.

1994 Blandy’s Madeira Colheita Malmsey ($48). Flavors of caramel and lots of nuts make this a particularly delightful choice.


Madeira: The wine that defies time

To keep their wines from spoiling, Portugese farmers added a little brandy to the barrel.

There’s a good reason that Madeira is nearly synonymous with old-fashioned reliability, said Elin McCoy in Portuguese farmers have been tilling “steep mountain vineyards on the eponymous volcanic island” off Africa’s coast since the 1700s.

To keep their wines from spoiling during long ocean deliveries to Europe or the Americas, they “fortified” them, dosing each batch with brandy during fermentation. The result was a virtually “indestructible” beverage that could keep seemingly forever.  For a splurge, here are three bottles that prove Madeira can still taste exquisite decades—even centuries—later. You can find a dealer through

1825 Leacock Seco ($450)
This Madeira starts with a nose of hazelnuts and reveals layers of tangy candied fruit.

1912 D’Oliveira Verdelho ($350)
This “toffee-nosed” Madeira reminded me of “ethereal Kenya coffee.”

1922 D’Oliveira Bual ($350)
This powerful Madeira has sweet notes that taste like “essence of fruitcake.”


From “The Week” postings April 2010 and Mach 2012


About Cecilio Augusto Berndsen

Information Technology, Management, Project Management and Public Administration are areas I am familiar with. I am also interested in photography, wine, sailing, politics, economics, and economic development.
This entry was posted in Magazines and Books wine related, Wine - Vino - Vinho. Bookmark the permalink.

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