(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.
(2023) The Sercial grape traditionally makes the driest style of Madeira, and indeed this example has only around 15g/l making it only semi-sweet. The colour is a burnished, glowing amber. The nose is fabulous, from Seville orange to walnut to raisin and milk chocolate. In the mouth it has weight and creamy texture, and while those luscious Muscovado, walnut and apricot flavours flood the mouth, it's the beautiful energy endowed by sparkling acidity that gives this terrific impact. Tannins are modest, and the spirit brings only the gentlest heat to the spicy, fruity finish. Marvellous stuff. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas. Price for 50cl. Watch the video for more information and food matching ideas.
(2019) Lovely golden colour and a nose of shellac and walnut, a fruity pear-like hint. Sweet, with immediate intensity. Mouthfilling richness and concentration, orange peel and candied fruit and again a walnut richness. Around 55gl of residual sugar, which is barely detectable.
(2019) Rather more sherried, compared with the Sercial, with honey and walnut and the palate intensely sweet, pure sweet grape and cherry freshness to the acids, but the 75gl of sugar more apparent.
(2019) The residual sugar here rises to 95gl in a wine with such intense raisin and brown sugar character, lovely depth of caramel-edged bittersweet orange. Marmalady, long and deliciously moreish.
(2019) As is traditional, the Malmsey is the sweetest in this 10-year-old range, with 125gl of sugar. Again into walnut and shellac tones over the Christmas cake fruit. So intense on the palate, but that thrilling balance with the searing acidity shimmering through.
(2019) Quite dark, fabulous sweet richness, a little of that shellac lift, huge core of intense sweetness balanced against scintillating acidity again, rapier thrust of lemon zest and some salt. 74g/l of residual sugar and a thrilling wine.
(2019) Second time I've been lucky enough to taste this, previously scored 99/100. Lots of complex volatile notes here, depth of walnut and Raisin fruit, amazing concentration yet again, Seville orange and such intense wine. Salty again in the finish, but so long, so deeply concentrated.
(2019) And a second chance to taste this wine too, also previously scoring 98/100. A little rancio character, with a little coffee and Seville orange. Green fig and olilve, sultana and then a touch of curry leaf, shellac. Shimmering and delicious. I drank this one.
(2018) A stunning, stunning dry Madeira, at 60 years old and what a treat to taste one of the world’s great wines with surely another 50 years ahead of it. Shellac and walnut notes lead on to a bone-dry palate of Seville orange that has searing intensity. Oh, for a bowl of salted almonds with this contemplative wine.