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A list of Madeira submitted to the 1876 International Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Vintage at Blandy’s from Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle’s The Madeira Islands, Volume 2. 1900. [3]

I am a bit obsessed with Madeira lists right now. The different types of Madeira sold at auction over the last several decades are fairly well known and it is relatively easy to amend the impressive list of Madeira found in Noel Cossart’s Madeira, The Island Vineyard, Second Edition (2011). As far as I can tell there are no lists to be found for the Madeira on offer towards the end of the 19th century. I cannot help but wonder if there are vintages and wines sold in the late 19th century that are still available today.

For this post I have gathered up the Madeira wines presented at the 1876 Centennial International Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  To this I have augmented comments published in 1868 with regards to reports and awards.  Frustratingly, I cannot determine which wines were submitted by such major houses as Cossart, Gordon, & Co. and Leacock & Co.

Looking at the Oidium years Leal, Irmaos & Ca submitted a wine from 1854 which places it just two years after the devastation began.  Just a few years later, perhaps from young vines, Henrique Jose Maria Camacho’s 1860 Malvasia was highly regarded.

Vintages

  • 1826
  • 1828
  • 1829
  • 1830
  • 1840
  • 1844
  • 1848
  • 1846
  • 1850
  • 1851
  • 1854
  • 1860
  • 1863
  • 1865
  • 1868
  • 1870
  • 1872

Wines Submitted and Tasting Notes

Blandy

‘Report.-A precious collection of Madeira wines from 1826 to 1872. The “Boal 1846,” “Sercial 1826,” and “Malvasia 1826,” are remarkably good; highly rich in flavor and taste. All these wines may be said to be among the most delicious of the world.’
1829 Malmsey, Paul do Mar e Feijao do Mar
1826 Reserva, Campanario e Camara de Lobos
1826 Sercial, Paul dos Padres and Feijao dos Padres
1846 Boal, Campanario e Camara de Lobos
1846 Reserva Especial
1851 Reserva
1868 Sul da Madeira, First Quality, Campanario e Camara de Lobos
1868 Sul da Madeira, Second Quality, Santo Antonion e Sao Martinho
1870 Sul da Madeira, First Quality, Sao Martinho e Campanario
1870 Sul da Madeira, Second Quality
1872 Third Quality, Porto da Cruz e Fayal
1872 Third Quality, Porto da Cruz e Ponta Delgada

Henrique Jose Maria Camacho

‘Report.-A very good collection of Madeira wines from 1844 to 1870; remarkably, “Malvasia, 1860,” and “Boa, 1844;” flavor and taste highly rich.’
1844 Boa, Camara de Lobos
1844 Superior Reserva, Camara de Lobos
1850 Reserva, Camara de Lobos
1860 Sercial, Paul do Mar, Calheta
1860 Malvasia, Paul do Mar, Calheta
1870 Moscatel, Sta Luzia, Funchal

Tristao Perestrello de Camara

‘Report.-Very good Madeira wines; flavor and taste very rich.’
1870 M.S., Casa Branca
1870 L., Ladeira

Cossart, Gordon, & Co.

‘Report.-A remarkable collection of very fine Madeira wines,-verygood,-Verdellin, Bool. And Malmsey.’
[Cannot find list of wines submitted.]

Leacock & Co.

‘Report.-Madeira wines of a very superior quality ; flavor and taste remarkably rich.’
[Cannot find list of wines submitted.]

Leal, Irmaos & Ca.

1828 Camara de Lobos
1830 Boal, Campanario
1830 Malmsey, Feijao dos Padres
1830 Sercial, Campanario
1854 R.R., Camara de Lobos
1863 O.R., Camara de Lobos
1865 Boal, Campanario
1865 Camara de Lobos
1865 R., Sul de Ilha
1868 O.S., Sul de Ilha
1870 S., Sul de Ilha

J.J. Rodrigues Leitao & Fos.

‘Report.-Very good Madeira wines; flavor and taste very rich.’
1874 Sta. Maria Maior
1875 Sta. Maria Maior

Seal, Brothers, & Co.

‘Report.-A very good collection of Madeira wines from 1828 to 1870, the celebrated “Boals 1865 and 1830,” “Sercial 1830,” and “Malvasia 1830.” Taste and flavor very rich. Remarkable wines; among the most precious of the world.’
1830 Boal
1830 Sercial
1830 Malvasia
1865 Boal
[Cannot find list of wines submitted.]

Welsh Brothers

‘Report.-Very good Madeira wines. The “Boal,” 1840, is remarkably good. All the collection very rich in flavor and taste.’
1840 Reserve Boal, Quinta Grande, Camara de Lobos
1848 Navy Reserve, Sao Martinho


[1] International Exhibition. 1876. Portugal. Agriculture and Colonies. 1876. URL: https://archive.org/details/internationalexh00port
[2] United States Centennial Commission. Reports and Awards. 1878. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=GC4SAAAAYAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
[3] Biddle, Anthony Joseph Drexel. The Madeira Islands, Volume 2. 1900. URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=PqRBAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA7#v=onepage&q&f=false

High-alcohol Verdelho, old Freisa, and older Napa Valley reds

The latest round of wines that Lou and I tasted presented a challenging start.  Perhaps only the Scholium Project would offer a high-alcohol Verdelho white wine and the 2010 Scholium Project, The Wisdom of Theuth, Lost Slough Vineyards certainly exists outside of my conventional experience.  I found an attractive blend of yeast, nuts, and lemon such that I am reminded a bit of a mature, flat Champagne.  Lovers of mature white wine will find it engaging on the first night.  Tasted blind, I would have guess the 1999 Pio Cesare, Freisa to be a late 1970s Italian Nebbiolo from a lesser region.  It threw a tremendous amount of sediment.  On the face of things, it is a decrepit wine for being from 1999.  However, if you like very old Italian wine then you’ll enjoy it after it breaths for several hours.  It becomes round and sweet with some delicate berries.

We soon moved on to a trio of Napa Valley red wines.  The 1983 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is from a very wet year which shows in a lack of quality fruit flavor and staying power.  In comparison, the 1977 vintage is still rocking.  The 1983 improves with air to be a modest wine which set us up for our next pair of wines from Burgess Cellars.

Burgess Cellars was founded in 1972 when Tom Burgess bought a 19th century winery that had been resurrected by Lee Stewart and known at the time as Souverain.  Burgess Cellars was one of only two dozen wineries in Napa and Sonoma at the time of founding.  The 1970s was a period when the house wine style was under development with the winemaker Bill Sorenson.  At the same time the vineyards were expanded and replanted.  In 1978 and 1979 the winery itself was significantly expanded.  Long-term contracts were secured to provide an increased volume of fruit.

Perhaps this transitory period explains why the 1979 Burgess Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley is way past prime.  It looks and smells old but there is still an attractive mouthfeel.  Souverain and Burgess Cellars did have a legacy when it came to Cabernet Sauvignon which could explain the quality of the 1979 Burgess Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.  The bottle stink quickly blew off to reveal deep fruit on the nose which is confirmed on the palate.  This is a clean fruited wine with a bit of herbal greenhouse flavor wrapped in a seductive, textured mouth feel.  My one grip is that it could stand a bit more acidity.  Even Jenn enjoyed it and I enjoyed my last glass as I read my mystery book before bed.

 

2010 Scholium Project, The Wisdom of Theuth, Lost Slough Vineyards
This wine is 100% Verdelho that was fermented in both tank and barrel.  Alcohol 15.88%.  There is a bit of an apple orchard aroma but then it becomes primarily of yeast and white fruit.  In the mouth this is a weighty, nutty white fruited wine with a cutting vein of acidity in the finish.  There is an attractive yeast note, lemon peel, and tropical floral flavors delivered with a very fine, ripe grip.  **(*) Now.

1999 Pio Cesare, Freisa
Imported by T. Elenteny. 12%.  Between the brick color, nose, and initial flavors I would have guessed this wine to be decades older.  After several hours of air it improved markedly.  A bacon aroma moves on to very mature flavors in a wine that rounds out and becomes sweeter with air.  While the nose remains past prime the mouth shows delicate berries, a little spice, good acidity, and an almost chewy nature.  ** Now.

1983 Villa Mt. Eden, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 12.9%.  This is a drier wine which improved with air.  It is fully mature with not the best fruit at this stage though there are attractive notes of wood box and a hint of tobacco. It sports powdery density and a fresh finish.  ** Drink Up.

1979 Burgess Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.1%.  The bottle stink quickly blows off to reveal deep blue aromas.  In the mouth is clean fruit which is ripe and weighty before transitioning to dry flavors underpinned by black fruit.  There is a seductive mouthful but truth be told this could use a bit more zip from acidity.  It is very enjoyable though with fine wood notes, some fresh greenhouse, and a textured finish.  *** Now but will last.

1979 Burgess Cellars, Pinot Noir, Napa Valley
Alcohol 13.4%.  A light to medium-brown color spells doom which is confirmed on the nose.  Surprisingly round and weighty in the mouth with a sweet core.  Not Rated Past.

Specific Madeira wines mentioned in Vizetelly’s Facts about Port and Madeira (1880)

The Armazem dos Vinhos Velhissimos of Messrs. Cossart, Gordon & co. at Funchal. From Vizetelly “Facts about Port and Madeira”. Google e-Books.

At the recent annual Madeira tasting organized by Mannie Berk and Roy Hersh there was the usual talk of 18th and 19th century vintages both recently purchased and drunk.  There was also talk between Paul Day, Mannie Berk, and myself of historic references to these vary same vintages.  No mention of historic Madeira may be made without referring to Henry Vizetelly’s Facts about Port and Madeira (1880).

For this post I have gathered up all references to Madeira wine where a date or age may be attributed.  Those wines simply described as old or young have been left out.  Vintages marked circa are where I calculated the date based on Vizetelly having been on the island in 1877.  Those marked with a tilda represent what I take to be a vague reference to date, i.e. half a century old.  For solera wines the year typically represents the oldest vintage upon which the solera was founded and not the year the solera was founded.

Vintages Tasted

The vintages tasted include just a handful of wines older than 50 years of age at the time of Vizetelly’s visit to Madeira.   The vintages from the 20 years before the Oidium devastation of 1852 are largely solera.  Except for 1857 Senhor Cunha, Verdelho, the vineyards planted in response to Oidium appear to yield wine again with the 1862 vintage.  From this vintage foward Vizetelly tastes a wine from each year save the 1864 and 1867.

  • 1760
  • 1792 Solera
  • 1820
  • pre-1827
  • c. 1827
  • 1829
  • c. 1832
  • 1832 Solera
  • 1834-35
  • 1835 Solera
  • c. 1838
  • 1842 Solera
  • 1844 Solera
  • 1847
  • 1848
  • 1850 Solera
  • 1851
  • pre-1852
  • 1857
  • 1862
  • 1863
  • 1865
  • 1866
  • 1868
  • 1869
  • 1870
  • 1871
  • 1872
  • 1873
  • 1874
  • 1875
  • 1876

The Tasting Notes

Note, not every vintage wine mentioned includes a tasting note.

Viuva Abudarham e Filhos

1871 Campanarios – “remarkably fine in flavour and possessed a peculiar and delicate bouquet”

Signor Augusto C. Bianchi, partidista

c. 1862 Bual, Campanario – “rich and almost oily in character”
1873 São Martinho – “soft, and with a very fine aroma”
1874 São Martinho – “soft, and with a very fine aroma”

Blandy Brothers

1760 – “but a phantom of its former self, it had not in the slightest degree turned acid”
1792 Solera, Cama de Lobos – “a powerful choice old Reserve”
Pre-1827 Verdelho, São Martinho – “boasting a wonderful perfume…one of the most perfect old Madeiras we ever tasted”
c. 1827 Sercial – “remarkable…to-day emitting a wonderful aromas, and having a marked though pleasant pungent flavour.”
1829 Porto da Cruz, bottled 1842 – “of remarkable lightness and delicacy of flavour””
1868 Cama de Lobos
1870 São Martinho – “excellent wine of medium dryness”
1872 Ponta Delgado – “combining a pleasant dryness with remarkable softness.”
NV 8 Year old blend – “agreeable and not over-spirituous wine, with a slight sub-pungent flavour, and fairly brilliant in colour although it had not been fined.”

Senhor Henrique J. M. Camacho

~1857-1862 Ponta do Pargo – “old, powerful yet refined in flavour”

Cossart, Gordon, and Co.

1832 Solera, Bual – “remarkably delicate in flavor”
1835 Solera, Malmsey – “had all the qualities of a choice liqueur”
1842 Solera, Bastardo, São Martinho – “soft choice wine with fine bouquet”
1844 Solera, Cama de Lobos – “deep-coloured, powerful wine of fine high flavour” replenished with Bastardo.
1850 Solera, Malmsey
1851 Verdelho – “sound mellow wine of the highest character”
1862 Malmsey – “pale, delicate…with a highly-developed bouquet, which promised to become a wine of singularly choice character.”
1863 Viho do Sol
1865 Sercial, Ponta do Pargo – “exceedingly dry and clean-tasting, and slightly pale.”
1874 North Side – “light and agreeable to drink”
1875 North Side – “light and agreeable to drink”

Senhor Cunha, partidista

1847 Bual – “rich pungent”
pre-1852 Malmsey – “luscious and refined, and beautifully rounded.”
pre-1852 Sercial – “dry delicate”
1857 Verdelhos – “particularly fine”
1873 Verdelhos – “particularly fine”

Messrs. R. Donaldson and Co.

1866 Cama de Lobos – “high-flavoured yet delicate wine, and beautiful soft and aromatic”
1869-1870 São Martinho – “proved equally delicate and fragrant.”
1872 Cama de Lobos
1872 Porta de Cruz – ” dry, light, and delicate, and possessing an agreeable freshness”
1872 São Martinho and Santo Antonio – “especially soft, with a very aromatic bouquet”
1876 Porta da Cruz – “grapy alike in flavour and bouquet”

Mr. Henry Dru Drury

1820 Sercial – “powerful bouquet and a dry but scarecely pungent flavour”
~1820 Bual – “exceedingly pungent and powerful – an essence of wine, so to speak”
~1820 Malmsey – “deep-tinted luscious”
1870
1874 Cama de Lobos
1876 Bual – “delicate and fresh-tasting”

Messrs. Henriques and Lawton

c. 1832 Malmsey – “”venerable…of ruby brightness and rich liqueur-like flavour, and possessing an admirable bouquet.”
c. 1865 Sercial – “a great wine in full perfection”
1868 Santo-Antonios – “dry and aromatic”
1870 Santo-Antonios – “dry and aromatic”
1871 Santo-Antonios – “dry and aromatic”
1872 Bual – ” rich oily…too sweet, however, to be drunk excepting as a dessert wine”

Krohn Brothers and Co.

c. 1838 Cama de Lobos – “very strong, yet wonderfully soft, which had developed an exquisite bouquet and a slightly nutty flavour.”
1868 Cama de Lobos – “powerful, sub-pungent and aromatic wine”
1869 Tinta
1874 Cama de Lobos – “very dry”

Leacock

1834-35 – “had acquired a singular softness and delicacy, and proved much less spirituous than we expected to find it.”
1848 Sercial – “deep in colour, and dry and pungent in flavour””
1872 – “slightly more matured, was soft and delicately pungent in flavour”
1873 – “light, dry, and fine-flavoured”

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.