Jane McQuity, Best Buys, Sunday Times, Oct 2015
About this WINE
Madeira Wine Company
The Madeira Wine Company (MWC) is owned and managed by the Blandy family of Madeira, an institution which in 2011 celebrated its bicentenary.
Within the MWC brands, Blandy’s, Rutherford & Miles, Cossart & Gordon and Leacock`s have all been synonymous with quality Madeira wine.
The Blandys are unique in being the only family of all the original founders of the Madeira wine trade to still own and manage their own wine company and the family has played a leading role in the development of Madeira wine throughout its long history.
In 2000 the MWC led the way with the introduction of a high quality but affordable Madeira of a single year (known as "Colheita" in Portuguese); "Blandy's Malmsey 1994 Harvest". This was the first dated Madeira ever launched other than the very expensive and rare Vintage Madeiras. Since then many other Madeira producers have again followed the MWC lead by introducing younger dated wines, thus creating an important new category of premium Madeira.
In July 2002, Blandy’s MWC again launched a completely new style of Madeira with a radical presentation, "Blandy's Alvada". The wine is different to anything that has been produced before as it combines 2 noble grape varieties, Malmsey and Bual to arrive at a superbly balanced wine that combines the rich flavours of the Malmsey with the more complex and drier structure of the Bual.
The company is again leading the way in the re-establishment of Madeira as one of the world's great wines.
Sercial is a white grape and a corresponding style of Madeira wine, one of the four recognised styles of this fortified wine, along with the medium-dry Verdelho, the medium-sweet Bual and Terrantez and the lusciously sweet Malvasia (aka Malmsey).
Sercial is the driest style of Madeira, containing up to up to 1.5 percent residual sugar; Verdehlo (a medium-dry style) has up to 2.5 percent residual sugar while Bual has 3.5 percent and Malmsey Malvasia has more than four percent residual sugar.
Sercial is the last of the white grapes to ripen in Madeira, often as late as mid-October, and is characterised by a high level of acidity. A minimum of 20 years ageing in cask is required for vintage Sercial Madeiras, to ensure that its razor-sharp acidity has softened. Once mature, it makes a perfect apéritif but it can also hold its own very well.
A vintage Sercial Madeira resembles a Tawny Port in colour, yet the nose has pronounced citrus fruit aromas, and as the wine ages the aromatic profile becomes similar to old Rieslings.
Tinta Negra Mole
Tinta Negra Mole (aka Tinta de Madiera and Negra Mole all meaning “black soft/suave”) is a versatile red grape variety used in the production of Madeira wine. it was created over 200 years ago as a crossing of Pinot Noir and Grenache. Plantings are found mainly around Funchal, Câmara de Lobos in the south and São Vicente in the north.
The grape dominates the island’s plantings (60% of the vineyards). The variety’s emergence to the spotlight came in the wake of the phylloxera epidemic of the 1860s, when it was used to replant the other traditional Madeira grapes (Sercial, Bual and Terrantez) that were ravaged by phylloxera. Its prolific yields, often at the cost of of fruit quality, served well the local wine industry at the times of high demand.
In the 1980s it was recognised as a 'Noble' Madeira grape variety, but it is commonly used as a component of the Madeira blends, where typically 15% or less is Tinta Negra Mole, with the remainder being Bual, Sercial, Malvasia or Verdelho . If the label does not state one of the 4 aforementioned grapes, then it is most certainly a Tinta Negra Mole Madeira. It comes in all different styles, dry, medium dry, medium rich and rich. and as a 3 year old, 5 year old or 10 year old bottling. Since 1993 Madeira wines have been required by law to contain at least 85 percent of the grape variety stated on the bottle. Prior to this date, wines labelled as Madeira Sercial or Madeira Bual may, in fact, have been based largely on Tinta Negra Mole.