After basically telling Tim I didn’t really have much, but suggesting a few things to look for (basically telling him to shop at a competitor – OMG!), I decided to liven up, not only my Madeira section, but the dessert section as well.
And in so doing, I chose my wine to write about for WBW: The Blandy’s Almada 5 Year Madeira ($16.98, 500 ml), a renegade Madeira of sorts, created by the blending of both Bual and Malmsey (Malvasia) grapes - something unheard of until 2002.
The wine undergoes fermentation in stainless steel tanks, followed by fortification with grape brandy. From there, it sees 5 years in American oak barrels, all while going through the old maderization (where wines are intentionally exposed to oxygen and heat) process called “Canteiro.” This process sees the barrels stored in the lofts of the aging lodges, without any climate control. Over the years, the barrels are rotated to the middle floors, and inevitably to the ground floors, where it is eventually blended and bottled.
The end result is a totally unconventional wine, dried apricots, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and elements of toasted oak and toffee abound in both the aromas and flavors. It is rich and lusciously textured, yet possessing slight hints of acidity for a balanced wine that would pair well with baked tarts, roasted almonds or bitter chocolates.
The Blandy’s Alvada 5 Year is a terrific introduction to Madeira, and once you try, you too will be seduced by this unsung wine.