Bob’s Pick: Blandy’s 10 year Malmsey Madeira, $28.00, 500 ml.

I like the idea of accidental wines. You know, wines where something gets screwed up and it ends up being awesome. Madeira is like that. Originally it was a fortified wine, in barrels in the holds of sailing trade ships, that was used as ballast. Well the heat and the heat and the heat of those long ocean voyages changed the wine, Maderized it, and darned if it didn’t turn out really good! And, considering the fact that the wine was essentially cooked, it will last almost forever, and it’ll be good forever!  

From the island off the coast of Portugal of the same name, (and the process of heating it) Madeira from the Blandy Family goes back to 1811. Their ten year Madeiras spend an average of ten years in cask (we have some vintage bottlings in our cellar that go back nearly fifty years!). Malmsey (aka Malvasia, the grape variety from which it’s made) is the sweetest style of Madeira. Mildly syrupy in texture, its sweetness is balanced by racy acidity. Rancio and brown sugar aromas lead the way followed by flavors of caramelized nuts, molasses and burnt orange peel.