I'm not much of a fan of sweet wines, but I enjoyed the results of participating in this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday. The topic is Madeira: The wine the American colonists drank (according to the Wine Bible we were responsible for importing a fourth of all the Madeira made.)
One of the unique steps in making Madeira is how it is aged. Like port, the fermentation process in a Madeira is halted by introducing clear brandy, which neutralizes the yeast. Your left with a "fortified" wine (read high alcohol content: 17-20%) with varying amounts of sweetness based on how much fermentation went on. Next comes the special step: heating. The original process was accomplished when the Madeira would get hot in cargo holds aboard ships that carried the wine from Portugal to the world. The result was actual enhancement to the flavor, a caramel, toffee flavor.
Some modern Madeiras are heated to achieve this effect. But the better quality wines are aged naturally over years in attics. This can take anywhere from 5 to 20 years. Different grapes can be used resulting in sweater or richer wines. Raisin and caramel are the distinct notes you'll find when drinking a Madeira.
I once had a wine that had been accidentaly oxidized. The wine had a distinct raisin flavor that grew overwelming as I drank it: an unpleasant experience! However, the Madeira I drank for this post was very enjoyable. It too had the raisin flavor and even what could be considered a "burnt" flavor. However, these didn't become overwhelming as I drank the wine. The sugar content was balanced by the alcohol. The wine had a nice medium body that felt nice in my mouth.
The grape used to produce the Madeira I had is called Bual. Bual grapes are grown in warm vineyards and make concentrated Madeiras with a medium-rich style. This style is lighter than port and the malmsey style of Madeira.
I enjoyed the Bual Madeira on it's own mostly. I tried it with ice cream, too, almost like a topping. The raisin flavor added a nice contrast to the sweet, richness of the vanilla in the ice cream. I'm not sure this is how our founding father's enjoyed the wine, but it worked for me!
Cossart Gordon 15 year Madeira Bual (19% alcohol)
Color: Reddish bronze
Aroma: Port like, raisins and caramel
Taste: Smooth mouth feel, raisins
Finish: Nutty with raisin
This edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday gives me my 52nd grape in my quest for the Century Wine Club!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
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