Wednesday, August 26, 2009

VintageVino Pick of the Day: Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Madeira Bual "Boston", nv

The Rare Wine Co. is the leader in the Madeira category, which is of course a very small category in the greater wine world, but Madeira definitely has its place and this is a great place to start if you are uninitiated. The Historic Series was first created about 10 years ago as a way to (re)introduce Americans to what was one of the most fashionable wines/beverages in our early history.

Because of its ability to hold up over long periods of time it was a natural wine to take on long sea voyages of the 18th and 19th centuries. That combined with the fact that the Madeira Islands are situated along the trade routes of the Atlantic and was a regular refreshing station for trans-Atlantic voyages coming to the Americas made it almost a natural item for popular consumption.

The Rare Wine Company Historic Series is made to be an affordable yet authentic representation of the extraordinary wines produced on Madeira. My favorite is the Bual Boston, named for one of the traditional import cities for these wines. The Bual is composed of about 80% Bual from sources that have been aged over 20 years. The remainder is composed primarily from Negro Mole that has been aged close to 60 years. It is this combination of younger and older wines that give this wine its depth of flavor and unforgettable aromatics.

Bual Madeira is a style that is typically going to show a good degree of color concentration, especially when aged for this long. This wine is tawny brown, but it is also bright and clear. Aromatically it is distinctive. With flavors reminiscent of tawny port, nuts, cinnamon, clove and other holiday spices with a touch of citrus rind, which is perhaps concentrated by the refreshing acidity. On the palate these flavors are magnified, but it is the gentle acid balance that really sets this wine apart form anything else. At fist you think that it is going to be a bit too much on the palate because the aromas are so concentrated, but the touch of sweetness from the long aging, the concentrated wood aromas and the liveliness on the palate just make for a truly pleasurable drink.

Like I said, Madeira is not a big category, but for those who enjoy something different and are always looking for the delicious - here is a great wine.

Final note; the process for making Madeira involves heating the wines slowly over a long period of time. This process therefore makes the wine almost impervious to any of the normal maladies that can affect still wines - especially heat and oxygen. You may not be able to finish a bottle of Madeira once open (in fact I would strongly suggest you not attempt), but that is OK. This bottle can remain open indefinitely (the one I was tasting had been open for about 18 months). Because of that I find that Madeiras are some of the best values in the wine world for the casual after dinner drinker, such as myself. This bottle will cost you about $45, but because it can remain in your cellar opened for as long as it takes you to go through the bottle - you are not going to be at a loss after a week or two like normal wines that are unfinished. I also think that the quality in the bottle justifies the price - where else will get to drink 60 year old wine, in pristine condition, for about $9 a glass?

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