Madeira Wine Company: Cossart Gordon, Miles, Blandy’s & Leacock 2018 bottlings
In recent times, Blandy’s has been very much the public face of the Madeira Wine Company in the UK. So it was good additionally to taste 2018 bottled Madeiras from sister labels Cossart Gordon (who produce a drier style) and Miles & Leacock, both of whom have released varietally labelled Tinta Negra Madeiras (a category only permitted since 2015).
You’ll find my tasting notes on the 2018 Madeira Wine Company releases below. First, some reflections on Tinta Negra. Barbeito led the way with varietally labelled Tinta Negras – check out my earlier reports here and here; winemaker Ricardo Diogo’s use of very mature Tinta Negra is particularly exciting in his Ribeiro Real 20 Year Old non-vintage blends. Henriques & Henriques’ 50 Year Old Terrantez is another very impressive example.
I can’t help noticing that my picks of the Tinta Negra crop are non-vintage blends. Where the red variety doesn’t have the same rapier-like acidity of Madeira’s top white grapes, I think younger wines provide useful freshness in blends. As for mature blend components from the 1950s (like the Ribeiro Real Tinta Negra or “JEP” barrel which was blended into Henriques & Henriques 50 Year Old), they would have been foot-trodden in lagares – something which Ricardo Diogo is re-introducing to enhance the structure of Tinta Negra wines.
I tasted the Leacock Tinta Negras fleetingly at The Big Fortified Tasting in May. Of the pair, Leacock’s Tinta Negra Frasqueira 1995 stood out, impressing me with its richness, sturdy power and savoury, balancing complexity; the Leacock’s Tinta Negra Colheita 2001 seemed a little soft and sweet – lacking a bit of backbone.
Tasted at home over a few days, here are my notes on the other Madeira Wine Company 2018 releases from Miles, Cossart Gordon & Blandy’s.
Miles Tinta Negra Doce Rich 1997 (Madeira), bottled in 2018
A deep amber/light mahogany hue, with a sweet, smooth, fruity palate, with medjool dates and (plumped up/boozed up) fig and plum pudding. Sweet café crème, cinnamon, fudge, malted chocolate and candied orange notes make this doce indeed! A smooth, balanced, delivery – very mellow – makes for an enjoyable ride, if lacking a bit of drive. Finishes with a tang of scorched earth. 20% (75cl)
Cossart Gordon Sercial 1985 (Madeira), bottled in 2018
The wood is in the driving seat for this spicy Sercial, which shows savoury nam pla, green tomato and apricot chutney, toasted coconut and a pronounced roasted, salted almond nuttiness to the palate. A bitter woody note detracts somewhat from the finish. Though classically dry, with taut acidity, it does seem unusually woody for Sercial. Certainly a departure from my preferred purer, more mineral style. 20%, (37.5cl)
Cossart Gordon Bual 1989 (Madeira), bottled in 2018
A salivating nose and palate has no shortage of acidity and thrust. This is a dryish Bual as befits the house style. Lifted spicy chutney notes tickle the nose and palate, which features green tomato, pickled and fresh walnut, toasted coconut, candied grapefruit peel and lively, pithy, edgy (in a good way) grapefruity acidity. Very long, intense, expressive and complex, with coffee and cigar, tamarind, sweet cedar and cinnamon notes to its spirity, woody finish. Delicious lifted, toasted spice resonance to the back palate. My pick of the bunch. 21% (37.5cl)
Blandys Malmsey 1977 (Madeira), bottled in 2018
A spicy nose leads onto a dark, billowy palate with dried fig, singed tatin, walnut and spice notes. Toothsome sweetness, with a mirin edge to its acidity. As it opens up, it reveals chocolate orange, cedar, cinnamon, café crème and saffron notes. Rich as it should be, if lacking a bit of lightness and energy. 19% (37.5cl)