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Tasting Report: Madeira Wine 2018

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It’s been two years since we took a deep dive into Madeira, but recently representatives from this unique, fortified, island-grown wine style arrived in San Francisco with their latest wares in tow. This includes some classic brands and one new one — a cooperative of all-female winemakers called CAF being the first new winemaking operation on Madeira since 1946.

To refresh your memory, you’ll find a wide range of Maderia styles out there, all named for the primary grape used in the wine, ranging from the dry sercial to the ultra-sweet malvasia. Various blends are also available.

Thoughts on all wines tasted at the event follow.

Tasting Report: Madeira Wines 2018

1989 D’Oliveiras Sercial Madeira – big apple notes, mild spice. B+
1990 D’Oliveiras Malvasia Madeira – fresh, almost creamy, tons of fruit. A-
1977 D’Oliveiras Boal Madeira – more acid than I expected, caramel, apples, baking spices. A-
1988 D’Oliveiras Terrantez Madeira – quite a lot of acidity, some sourness, heavy herbal notes. B+
1929 D’Oliveiras Malvasia Madeira – not a typo, and one of the most glorious Madeira wines I’ve ever tried. Beautiful with caramel apple and seductive, light spice notes. A+

2004 Rare Wine Co Vinhos Barbeito Malvasia Madeira – raisiny, Portlike, with herbs, spice, and a slight vegetal tone. A-
NV Rare Wine Co Vinhos Barbeito Sercial Madeira 20 Years Old – tastes youthful, pungent at times with sour notes. B

NV Broadbent Verdelho Madeira 10 Years Old – amazingly lively, fresh fruit, mild florals. A
NV Broadbent Boal Madeira 10 Years Old – lots of coffee, husky-dusky. B
NV Broadbent Malmsey Madeira 10 Years Old – a bit leathery, some spice. B+
1999 Broadbent Colheita Madeira – seductive and austere, woody. B+
1998 Broadbent Colheita Madeira – much bolder fruit profile, cherry and raisin notes abound. A
1997 Justino’s Broadbent Colheita Malvasia Madeira – this one carries the Justino’s sub-branding and is made from Malvasia; sweet and citrus-heavy, with lingering toast notes. A-

NV CAF Fenix Madeira – the dryest of these four blends, clean fruit and fresh linen. A-
NV CAF Poios Madeira – medium dry; a touch of sugar, light leather. A-
NV CAF Citrine Madeira – medium rich; quite similar to Poios, lightly raisiny. A-
NV CAF Sobremesa Madeira – the richest of the wines; a bit over-sugared. B+

NV Henriques & Henriques Sercial Madeira 10 Years Old – brisk, citrus and spice, red apple notes. B
NV Henriques & Henriques Terrantez Madeira 20 Years Old – more oxidation, bold apple notes. B
NV Henriques & Henriques Boal Madeira 15 Years Old – clean caramel, vanilla. B+
NV Henriques & Henriques Saveiro Madeira – Madeira finished in used bourbon casks, giving this a whole new dimension; much sweeter, with a big vanilla kick; unique but quite delightful. A
NV Henriques & Henriques Malvasia Madeira 20 Years Old – clean finish, lively with sweet fruit. A-

NV Blandy’s Verdelho Madeira 10 Years Old – acidic, lightly sour; green apple note. B+
NV Blandy’s Sercial Medeira 10 Years Old – quite dry, a bit funky. B
NV Blandy’s Miles Colheita Tinta Negra Madeira 10 Years Old – apples, cherries, light wood. B+
2006 Blandy’s Miles Colheita Tinta Negra Madeira – pushy and sour. B+
1996 Blandy’s Miles Colheita Tinta Negra Madeira – much brighter and fruit-forward; fun caramel finish. A-

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Christopher Null

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content company.

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