Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday #51 (Baked Goods) gets some 89s

Following is a re-post of this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday from Our fearless 89 Project leader pointed out there there are 2 wines in my write-up that are 89-pointers (I'd not checked any scores before obtaining the wines that I reviewed):

"Wine Spectator - December 23, 2005

BLANDY'S Sercial Madeira 5 Year Old NV (89 points, $21)
Dried apricot, golden raisin and smoky flavors fill this fresh and lively Madiera. Balanced, and edged with lush spicy notes, which linger on the creamy finish. Try on ice as an aperitif. Drink now through 2010.

-Kim Marcus

Blandy's Malmsey 10 Year

KM Wine Spectator 12/31/05

These wines (especially the Malmsey) were very good, and certainly worthy of attention (no matter what the WS score...). Enjoy!

Welcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday #51(WineDude)!
Dude here is hosting the 51st edition of the venerable WBW, and today's theme is "Baked Goods" - reviews of wines that are deliberately heated (aka "Madeirized"), and we're also allowing reviews of sweet Fortified wines to be included. For the scoop on how Wine Blogging Wednesday works, check out the WBW site. More details on the background of the theme can be found here.

Now... let's get this funk started!

I love Madeira. Love is a strong word. And I love Madeira.

It's often sweet, incredibly tasty, high in refreshing acidity, and because it's already been exposed to oxygen and heat (which would utterly destroy normal wines), it's virtually indestructible.

A Madeira wine from 1935 will pretty much taste the same today as it did in 1935, even if opened and enjoyed tablespoon by luscious tablespoon from then until now. Not only is it tasty, indestructible, and food-friendly, it also boasts an abv of 19% or more. It's a bad-ass wine!

Normally, I'd expound on the storied history of Madeira, and give you background on the traditional styles of Madeira, food pairings, etc.


Rather than take you through the history of Madeira wine - which I figured might be covered by one or more of the other fine WBW participants anyway (and if not can easily be found in detailed play-by-play on the web) - I thought I'd instead show you, by way of comparison, just how bad-ass Madeira actually is.

Let's compare kick-ass, indestructible Madeira to the so-called "Invincible" IRON MAN:

"Invincible" IRON MAN

Totally Kick-Ass
Indestructible Madeira


Superhuman strength, Repulsor-ray technology, Genius-level intellect

Intense aroma

, Mouth-watering acidity

, Ass-kicking 19%+ abv
Edge: Madeira


Bullet-proof, temperature-resistant armor - TIE

Impervious to hot ovens, attic temperatures, and long, perilous sea voyages



Stan Lee

The Dutch Armada

Edge: Madeira

The Mandarin
, Alcoholism
, Soft spot for Pepper Pots
, Very large magnets


Cork Taint

Tastes Like

Metal alloy

Nuts, caramel, dried figs. -
Edge: Madeira

Result of



Characteristics of nuts and honey

Edge: Madeira

No contest: Madeira totally trumps IRON MAN, 5-2.

Anyway, traditional Madeira comes in four flavors of grapes, each chosen to highlight a particular style of the wine, examples of which I tasted in comparison (witness below).

Notice how the color of each wine gets darker? This is a key to the style, which range from dry and nutty to lusciously sweet and caramely (is that a word...?):

Blandy's Dry Sercial (Aged 5 Years in oak): Made from the Sercial grape, grown in the cooler high-altitude regions of the Madeira island. Sherry-like, nutty (almonds, baby!) with searing acidity. Pass the hors d'oeuvres!

Blandy's 5 Year Vedelho: Made from Verdelho (also grown in the cooler Northern part of the island) - Sherry-like, but this time its darker and more 'Oloroso-ish'; the oak is more pronounced, and there's touch of sweetness balancing the acidity.

Cossart Gordon Medium Rich Bual (15 years): From the Bual grape (probably my favorite) from the warmer southern portion of Madeira, it ripens to higher levels so it can be made into a sweeter style. And sweet it is - as in sweet fig, vanilla, and hazelnut, with a long nutty finish.

Blandy's Malmsey 10 Year: Malmsey is the malvasia grape, grown in the warmest and lowest-altitude regions of Madeira. These wines can become ultra-indestructible and typically have a near-perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. In this case, the wine is bursting with burnt caramel, rum, honey, and smoke, with a smooth, luscious mouthfeel.

Now do you see why I use the word "love" when I'm talking Madeira?

Just don't tell Mrs. Dudette... she might get jealous...


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