(2023) Madeira is undoubtedly one of the world's great wines, but arguably one of the most overlooked. The volcanic Portuguese island of the same name lies far out into the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco. It is from here that the tradition of these wines, fortified with spirit to withstand long sea voyages, began. Madeira normally has some sweetness, and the level of sweetness traditionally follows through the four most important grape varieties in order: Sercial wines are usually the driest, then Verdelho, Bual, and finally Malmsey, normally the sweetest.
This 15-year-old example of a Verdelho wine is a glowing amber to tawny in colour. The nose has that wonderfully evocative shellac character, old polished wood with a sheen of beeswax and varnish, and a nutty walnut and marzipan depth. In the mouth this is sweet and rich, brown sugar and intense raisin and walnut flooding the palate, with marvellous bitter orange acidity biting down on the long, spicy, tobacco-infused finish. Terrific and world class wine. Price is for 50cl.