Thought this was good reading for everyone, and not surprisingly to those in the know, Mannie Berk is front and center. There's a lot of history with old america and Madeira consumption, but obviously that faded to almost nothing for a good part of the 1900's. Interesting that dryer Madeira is credited with sparking the interest of sommelier's of late.
Forbes: Why Madeira Is The Next Great Thing In Wine
- Reply by JonDerry, Aug 26, 2012.
Glad you found it interesting...you won't see it on many menu's, even in most "fine restaurants", but when I saw it on the list at a popular steak house in Las Vegas (Strip Steak @ Mandalay) I jumped as the chance. And so I've only had Madeira once, but I remember liking it better than any Port I've had, and I've probably tried about 40 different Ports, some old some young.
- Reply by GregT, Aug 26, 2012.
It's been the next big thing forever. Manny was really smart - he found a lot of old stuff that was just sitting around for years because there was no market. So he bought it up and then started promoting the hell out of it. When some interest developed, anyone who wanted more found out that he'd locked up a lot of the existing supplies.
But good for him - anyone else could have done it. He blends some and markets his own under the names of old port cities - Charleston, Boston, New York, etc., each made in a distinctive style, from dry to sweet. And now that there's a market for the stuff, it's hundreds of dollars a bottle for the older ones.
In any event, Shism - it's not like Port, except maybe a Tawny. Port is made by stopping fermentation from adding alcohol. So you get basically fruit juice and alcohol and you leave it for many years and it turns into something else. And you can put it in barrels and it will change color and develop some oxidized aromas and flavors and those are the tawnies.
Madeira can be made that way, and it is a fortified wine, but it is not always fortified when there's still a lot of sugar in the must like Port is. So you can get drier or sweeter ones depending on when you fortify. There are usually 4 types - full rich, medium rich, medium dry, and dry. You hear people refer to "Rainwater" sometimes - that's the medium dry version. Today, each style is usually made from one of four different grapes - Verdelho, Bual, Sercial and Malvasia but some of the older stuff was made with different grapes.
Unlike every other wine, Madeira is heated. They used to sail around the world with it and when they passed thru the tropics, it got really hot. Now it's made in specially heated rooms and kept at a temp of around 120F for a few months, then it's put into barrels for a few years.
So everything bad that can happen to a wine has happened to it - it's both oxidized and heated. But somehow it becomes all the better for it.
For me, a good Madeira is much better than most Port, partly because it doesn't have to be as sweet and can have much better acidity. But combined with the nutty and caramel notes it's like lemon and caramel. Even the sweet ones aren't usually too cloying. It's really a great drink if you get some good ones.
But I don't see it taking front and center place any time soon. If bartenders start using it, and they have, that might lead to greater popularity. Of course, if you're a bartender who does that, you'll be called a "mixologist" and that will be a good reason for people to avoid your establishment!
Anyhow - try some if you can. Best thing of all - you can keep the open bottle around for a long long long time since there's no need to worry about letting it get too much air - it already did. Cheers!
- Reply by shsim, Aug 26, 2012.
Thanks for sharing Greg! I have seen them around at local wine stores but never got about to try them.
Haha your tarsius eyes are very enchanting indeed. Im glad to find someone from the same parts of the world!