Home > History of Wine > A new Madeira vintage chart for the years 1865-1873

A new Madeira vintage chart for the years 1865-1873


In 1851, the Oidium or powdery mildew appeared on the island of Madeira and production plummeted the following year.  It would take years before vineyards were replanted and wine was again produced in significant quantities.  Replanting appears to have taken place mainly between 1859 and 1862.  As the vines matured the quantity and quality of wine produced increased.

Letter from Oliveira & Davies explaining devastation from Oidium. July 20, 1852. Alexandria Gazette. Genealogy Bank.

In 1867, Cossart, Gordon, and Co. felt that damage by the Oidium had reached trifling levels and in such light submitted a letter to the Editor of The Times of London regarding the current Madeira vintage.  This marked the beginning of a series of annual Madeira vintage reports which appeared in the pages of The Times.  These reports continued until the second crisis from the Phylloxera of the 1870s.

In Noel Cossart’s  Madeira The Island Vineyard , Second Edition (2011) appears a  list of Madeira vintages.  These inter-crisis years are largely regarded as “Small, generally good” with a particular variety or two singled out.  By extracting reports from The Times of London we gain more insight into the vintage variations.  I must say that the description of 1870 as of “not superior quality” does match my recent experience tasting three 1870 Bastardo bottlings the other weekend.  They were good but not great.

  • 1865 – Disappointing quality overall
  • 1866 – 2,300 pipes, good quality overall
  • 1867 – 2,300 pipes (1,600 south side and 700 pipes north side), good quality better than 1866, south side is best quality and north side inferior in strength and flavor.
  • 1868 – 4,000 pipes (3,600 south side and 400 pipes north side) up to 8,000 pipes, probably good quality overall, south side is good and north side very inferior.
  • 1869 – 8,000 pipes, very good quality overall
  • 1870 – 8,000 pipes, not superior quality overall
  • 1871 – 10,000 pipes, very good quality overall
  • 1872 – 8,000 pipes, quite equal to 1871 overall
  • 1873 – 10,000 pipes, about average quality overall

Cossart, Gordon, & Co letter to the Editor, The Times, August 9, 1867. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Money-Market & City-Intelligence, The Times, December 16, 1867. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Cossart, Gordon, & Co letter to the Editor, The Times, July 29, 1868. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Money-Market & City-Intelligence, The Times, November 27, 1868. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Money-Market & City-Intelligence, The Times, November 19, 1869. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Money-Market & City-Intelligence, The Times, December 1, 1870. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Money-Market & City-Intelligence, The Times, December 5, 1871. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Cossart, Gordon, & Co letter to the Editor, The Times, December 17, 1872. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.
Money-Market & City-Intelligence, The Times, December 5, 1873. Digital Archive 1785-2011, Gale Cengage Learning.

  1. Eric Ifune
    May 2, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    And we had some pretty good Malvasia from before.

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