Blandy’s Madeira – 2022 Bottlings


I recently joined Blandy’s CEO, Chris Blandy, and head winemaker, Francisco Albuquerque, for a tasting of their 2022 Madeira bottlings. Blandy opined that he sees a big future for the drier styles, especially Sercial, and that volumes of Verdelho have doubled in recent years, which allows the house to keep back more stock as reserves or used as table wine. On the other hand, he stressed that Bual risks disappearing in the next decade, with just 14 hectares remaining on the west side of the island. In terms of vinification, Blandy also suggested that technological advances means that they may alter temperature and humidity for each grape variety, something not presently possible. We broached these from youngest to oldest and readers should note that the Cossart Gordon wines are not sold in the UK.

The 2009 Blandy’s Colheita Single Harvest Sercial (2022 Bottling) comes from around 20 hectares remaining on the island. It is burnished straw in colour. The nose is attractive with desiccated orange peel, mandarin and light kerosene aromas. The palate has a potent tang of marmalade on the entry, modest weight with fine balance, even though it needs a tad more complexity towards the finish. Still, I appreciate the nuttiness and oxidative tincture that lingers on the aftertaste. 2,600 bottles produced. 90/Drink 2023-2036. The 2009 Blandy’s Colheita Single Harvest Verdelho (2022 Bottling), which contains 70g/L residual sugar, has a light, grilled hazelnut and quite ume nose, where I would like to see a little more vigour, though appealing touches of dried apricot and fig are revealed with time. The palate has a subtle viscous texture on the entry, crisp acidity with a tangy marmalade. Menthol and Chinese 5-spice combine effectively on the finish that appears to possess more persistence than the Sercial. Delicious. 2,600 bottles produced. 92/Drink 2023-2040.

The 2009 Cossart Gordon Colheita Single Harvest Verdelho (2022 Bottling) contains 62g/L residual sugar. It comes across rather muted on the nose compared to its Blandy’s counterpart. Light basalt and smoky notes emerge, though it needs more fruit and might be a bit volatile for some. The palate is much better with satisfying weight. There are notes of marmalade, apricot, stem ginger and lemongrass, just a hint of curry powder perking up the finish. I might afford this a year in bottle to see if the aromatics awaken. 2,000 bottles produced. 89/Drink 2024-2038. According to Chris Blandy, the 2008 Cossart Gordon Single Harvest Malmsey (2022 Bottling) was vinified like a red wine, fully fermented with the skins and the pulp. It contains 115g/L residual sugar, which is slightly lower than other Malmseys. It has an understated bouquet with dried orange peel, quince and light linseed scents, becoming nuttier with time in the glass with hints of white tea. The palate is light on its feet for a Malmsey, not as viscous as other 2022 releases. There is a fine spine of acidity with a spicy tang together with green olive. Maybe it needs more weight on the back end? Nevertheless, it feels focused and well balanced, a subtle peach and allspice note on the aftertaste. Fine. 91/Drink 2023-2045.

The 2008 Blandy’s Single Harvest Bual (2022 Bottling) comes with 95g/L residual sugar offset by 6.6g/L total acidity. It is understated on the nose as a Cossart’s Malmsey, and in that since, I would like more presence aromatically. Likewise, the palate feels just a bit light for a Bual, balanced yet not really gripping the mouth, if lingering towards the finish. It is pleasurable, though can’t help feeling that it could give me more. It does cohere with aeration, though I am seeking a little more complexity in this Madeira. 2,600 bottles produced. 88/Drink 2023-2036. The 2007 Blandy’s Single Harvest Malmsey (2022 Bottling) has 125g/L residual sugar. Side-by-side, it shows better than the 2008 Bual – more vigour and presence on the nose with candied orange peel, grilled walnut, smoke and a touch of sea spray. The palate is very well balanced with fine grip, viscous in texture yet with counterbalancing acidity to keep it on its toes. Wonderful purity towards the finish with dried honey, mandarin, Chinese 5-spice and white pepper. This is an excellent Bual that should age with style. 2,600 bottles produced. 93/Drink 2024-2050.

The 2006 Cossart Gordon Single Harvest Bual (2022 Bottling), which has 85g/L residual sugar, has a striking smoke and walnut-scented bouquet, hints of bay leaf, quince and mandarin, quite cohesive though it needs just a touch more vigour. The palate is well balanced with satisfying viscosity on the entry, but then it just takes its foot off the accelerator and feels a tad linear towards the slightly caramelised finish. There is a nice tingle of spice that lingers on the aftertaste, so I would probably afford this another couple of years in bottle. 2,000 bottles produced. 91/Drink 2024-2046. The 1978 Blandy’s Terrantez (2022 Bottling) comes from the remaining four hectares of vineyard farmed by 22 growers. It has 90g/L residual sugar with 9g/L total acidity. It has a very nuanced bouquet with Seville orange preserves, grilled walnut, aniseed and autumn bonfire – I appreciate the cohesion here, the delineation that manifests with aeration. The palate is beautifully balanced with tangy marmalade, white pepper and mandarin, cohesive with ample weight and density. Then the finish feels elegant and refreshing, the salinity urging you back for another sip. Superb. 1,206 bottles produced. 94/Drink 2022-2050.

The 1975 Cossart Gordon Verdelho (2022 Bottling) has 88g/L residual sugar and 10.7g/L total acidity. It has a subtle nose: dried honey, Seville oranges, quite floral in nature with green olive scents coming through with time, later a very light espresso scent. The palate is medium-bodied with a tangy, bitter orange and marmalade infused opening. Quite powerful, almost “burly” in style, I like the hubris of this Verdelho and the impact on the resinous finish, a slight hint of curry powder and saffron lingering on the aftertaste. Excellent. 939 bottles produced. 93/Drink 2022-2045. The 1972 Blandy’s Bual (2022 Bottling) has 115g/L residual sugar and 9.2g/L total acidity. It opens nicely over the course of 20 minutes in the glass, developing mandarin and light resinous notes, green mango and beeswax. The palate is well balanced with ample weight and a lovely viscous texture, quite rich for the category. There is just the right degree of spice here leaving the tongue tingling during and after imbibement. The finish is quite intense yet focused, not overly powerful, but seems to linger in the mouth for a minute afterwards. This is just delicious. 1,206 bottles produced. 93/Drink 2022-2052.

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