Madeira - 2023 Bottlings
BY NEAL MARTIN | JULY 31, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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