Blandy’s Madeira - 2023 Bottlings


As is customary every year, I report on the latest Madeira releases from Blandy’s, though readers should note that the 1995 Malmsey is under the Cossart Gordon label. I broach these from dry to sweeter styles.

The 2010 Colheita Single Harvest Sercial contains 50g/L residual sugar and is limited to 2,828 bottles for their 2023 release. The mellowness on the nose is endearing, with dried honey commingling with burnt apricot and linseed oil notes. The palate has a potent line of acidity, bitter lemon intermixed with orange rind, marmalade and stem ginger. It needs a bit more cohesion to bind it together on the finish. A bit uncompromising, chill this right down to serve as an aperitif with grilled nuts or even a strong blue cheese. 20% alcohol. 88/Drink 2023-2033. The 1990 Sercial was matured for 32 years in old casks and contains 55g/L residual sugar, limited to 1,206 bottles. Burnished amber in color, it has an appealing bouquet with hazelnut, smoke, light oxidative scents and a background note of pressed white flowers. The palate is well balanced with sour lemon, Seville orange marmalade and penetrating lemongrass notes that fire up the front of the tongue, mellowing toward a cohesive and prolonged finish. Maybe a bit more grip would not have gone amiss; nonetheless, this Sercial is delightful. 91/Drink 2023-2036.

The 2010 Colheita Single Harvest Verdelho was aged for ten years in very old oak casks and contains 75g/L residual sugar. The nose offers dried peach skin, melted candle wax and wood varnish scents, well-defined and demonstrating a little more focus than its Sercial counterpart. The palate is superb. Seamlessly constructed with a pitch-perfect line of acidity, this just feels complete and effortless. This Verdelho comes highly recommended with gorgeous mandarin, dried honey, hazelnut notes and a slight oxidative edge on the finish. 2,523 bottles produced. 94/Drink 2023-2040. The 1982 Verdelho contains 108g/L residual sugar and was aged for 40 years in very old oak casks. Deep amber in color, it has a well-defined, mellow bouquet with mahogany antique bureau, crème brûlée, singed leather and bonfire aromas that cohere nicely in the glass. The palate is very well balanced with fine tannins and just the right amount of acidity to counter that sweet edge on the finish. This feels like an animated Verdelho, with impressive tension and real finesse coming through toward its slight oxidative finish. This is a classy offering. 1,206 bottles produced. 93/Drink 2023-2045.

The 2010 Colheita Single Harvest Bual has 92g/L residual sugar and was aged for ten years in old oak casks. Despite encouragement, this is quite straight-laced on the nose and doesn’t feel the need to “come out and play.” The palate is mellifluous on the entry with a lovely texture, very smooth with judicious lemongrass and stem ginger that combine nicely with the marmalade and Clementine notes, but this is just a bit short on the finish. Fine. 2,933 bottles produced. 88/Drink 2023-2033. The 1976 Bual was aged for 46 years in very old oak casks. This bottling is limited to 983 bottles plus assorted larger formats. It has a generous bouquet with a lovely warmth. Allspice intermixes with cardamom, curry leaf, dried honey and light wood varnish scents that become more prominent with time. The palate is beautifully balanced with heart-warming purity. With fine tannins and a gentle grip, this is very harmonious, with just the right amount of spice to enliven the finish. Not the most outgoing Bual you will find, almost low-key in a way, yet you’ll keep coming back for another sip. Divine. 94/Drink 2023-2045.

The 2010 Malmsey was aged for ten years in old oak casks and contains 112g/L residual sugar. It just doesn’t quite do it for me on the nose, missing a bit of presence and cohesion, somehow a bit ephemeral, which is not what I seek from a Malmsey. The palate is well balanced with modest weight, though it attenuates a little on the finish. I prefer the drier styles this year. 2,933 bottles produced. 86/Drink 2023-2030. The 1995 Malmsey, under the Cossart Gordon branding, was aged for 27 years in very old oak casks and contains 128g/L residual sugar. It has an elegant bouquet with cloves, ginger, mandarin and a very slight acetic touch that just gives it a bit of lift. The palate is viscous on the entry with tangy marmalade and quince, desiccated orange peel, allspice and stem ginger. With fine grip and depth on the finish, this should drink well for two or three decades at least. Excellent. 1,337 bottles produced. 92/Drink 2023-2040. The 1991 Malmsey from Blandy’s was aged 31 years in very old oak casks and contains 135g/L residual sugar. Quite pungent on the nose, it offers Seville orange marmalade, wood varnish, light sea spray scents and persimmon hints on the nose. This is well-focused with fine delineation. The palate is superb: mellifluous from the get-go, with a dash of Szechuan pepper that gets the tongue tingling. Lively, tensile with a wonderful unctuous finish. This feels long, powerful, and yet paradoxically tender. Highly recommended. 1,485 bottles produced. 95/Drink 2023-2045.

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