x
  • Country ranking ?

    7
  • Producer ranking ?

    1
  • Decanting time

    2h
  • When to drink

    now to 2050

The Story

The roots of Madeira's wine industry dates back to the Age of Exploration when Madeira was a regular port of call for ships traveling to the New World and East Indies. By the 16th centuries, records indicate that a well established wine industry on the island was able to supply these ships with wine for the long voyages across the sea. The earliest examples of Madeira, like port, were unfortified and had the habit of spoiling at sea. Following the example of port, a small amount of distilled alcohol made from cane sugar was added to stabilize the wine by boosting the alcohol content. (The modern process of fortification using brandy did not become wide spread till the 18th century). 

 

The Dutch East India Company became a regular customer, picking up large (112 gal/423 l) casks of wine known as pipes for their voyages to India. The intense heat and constant movement of the ships had a transforming effect on the wine, as discovered by
Madeira producers when one shipment returned back to the island after a long trip. It was found that customers preferred the taste of this style of wine, and Madeira labeled as vinho da roda (wines that have made a round trip) became very popular. Madeira producers found that aging the wine on long seam voyages was very costly and began to develop methods on the island to produce the same aged and heated style - typically by storing the wines in special rooms known as estufas where the heat of island sun would age the wine.

 

Madeira's greatest grape variety, Terrantez, is almost extinct. It was introduced on Madeira in the late 1600's, and in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced what I consider (and so do many experts) the greatest wines of the island. But it has a very thin skin, and is very susceptible to rot and to mildew. This is a particular problem in   Madeira, which has a hot and humid climate. The 1852 oidium outbreak destroyed most of the Terrantez vines, followed  phylloxera, which wiped out the rest. When the vineyards were replanted, Terrantez was abandoned, just as Folle Blanche was largely abandoned in Cognac. After the second world war a few small patches were replanted, but even today, less than 500kg of Terrantez grapes are harvested each year, so it is as good as forgotten.

Pre-phylloxera Terrantez Madeira is the same kind of thing as pre-phylloxera Folle Blanche cognac - something that is really
gone for ever, except on the tiniest scale.

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Vintage 1795

Parker 92 points / This is my second encounter with the famous 1795 from Barbeito that was bottled on a number of occasions. I must confess that I preferred the example that I tasted on the island, which came from the final 23 bottles in 2006. The nose is less composed than the sample’s from the earlier tasting, with dried honey, a touch of freshly ground coffee and more dustiness than I was expecting. With aeration there is an intriguing menthol note, although it seems to distract from the focus. The palate is well-balanced and is still cohesive, however the volatility is more pronounced compared to the previous bottle. Whereas that was full of packed full of flavour and demonstrated razor-like precision, this rather stumbles over the finish line.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep and Healthy

ending

Long and Flavorful

flavors

Honey and Nutty

nose

Intense

recommend

Yes

taste

Complex, Rich and Elegant

Written Notes

1795 Madeira is not your everyday wine. As a wine, it does not rank with any of the best wines I tasted this year, last year, or the year before. But as a glass of liquid contemplation, blended with a history lesson, it remains unequaled. This is 4 centuries old! In 1795, all the Founding Fathers were alive. George Washington was president, John Adams is Vice President and Thomas Jefferson resigned as Secretary of State. France adopts a new Constitution, Napoleon makes himself known, and Madeira had a great vintage. It only takes a glass with a bit of 1795 Madeira to make it all come alive again.

The dried fruits, brown sugar, piquant orange with bitter chocolate, roasted tangerine, burnt caramel and sharp acidic character neither add, or subtract from the fact that this is oldest wine I have ever tasted. It is more interesting than pleasurable. But it was truly a great experience, regardless.

Pale amber, deep golden rim. Apples, cinnamon, raisins, minerals, floral, roses, rose hips, coffee and caramel. Extremely complex. Perfect acidity/ sweetness balance, exceptional wine, kind of tender for a Madeira, the balance is out of this world, some teak, vanilla, oil, aftertaste for several minutes. Perfection.
  • 100p

Information

Origin

Portugal

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