Home > History of Wine > Vintage wines at the 1884 sale of Cossart, Gordon, & Co’s London stock

Vintage wines at the 1884 sale of Cossart, Gordon, & Co’s London stock


Cossart, Gordon, et Cie. 1874. [1]

On June 19, 1884, Messrs. Southard & Co. sold the entire stock of Cossart, Gordon, & Co.’s bottled and demijohned Madeira that lay in London. This was a significant sale involving 8,700 dozen bottles and 200 demijohns. The inventory was being sold off because Cossart, Gordon, & Co. had shifted priority to the bulk sale of Madeira while their bottled sales reduced.

Phylloxera began to spread across the island of Madeira in 1872 and it took until 1883, when American root stock could be imported into the Island, that replanting began in earnest. It would be many years before production fully recovered. This sale came at the tail end of the destruction by Phylloxera.

The vintages in the sale range from 1879 back to 1836 with bottling dates of 1883 back to 1870. Only one of the wines was bottled before Phylloxera became known on the Island. The wines without bottling dates were still in demijohn but it is not clear when they were moved out of cask.  There is the expected gap in vintage dates do to oidium so no vintages appear from 1851 through 1864 inclusive.

There are both vintage dated and non-vintage selections. In the chart below I have transcribed the vintage dated wines in ascending order.  The non-vintage wines appear in ascending bottling date order.  For both types, the names of the individual wines are largely a mixture of variety or region, sometimes with a descriptor attached. Of particular interest to me are the series of “Vintage” wines.

Like most of the other wines, the “Vintage” wines have a date but there is no reference to variety nor to place. These wines are from the vintages 1838, 1840, 1842, 1850, 1866, and 1868.   Noel Cossart considers the pre-oidium vintages “generally very good” with the two others as “generally good”.

The two oldest of these “Vintage” wines bear the descriptors “Superb” and “Superior”.   These are amongst the four most expensive wines offered with all of the “Vintage” wines generally at the expensive end of pricing.  The 1850 “Vintage” was bottled twice. First, in 1870 with the description “Extra” and a shipping price of 100/ per dozen. The second bottling in 1881 was less expensive at 90/ per dozen.

It is not yet clear how a “Vintage” wine differs from a regular wine from a single vintage.  Given the nature of the descriptions and the pricing, I believe “Vintage” wines were a new category of a high-quality blends.

1836 Sercial, Bottled 1882, dozen at 108/
1836 Imperial Reserve, Bottled 1883, dozen at 86/
1838 Vintage “Superb”, Bottled 1880, dozen at 140/
1840 Vintage Superior, Bottled 1880, dozen at 110/
1842 Malmsey, Bottled 1876, dozen at 120/
1842 Vintage, Bottled 1881, dozen at 95/
1844 Came de Lobos, Bottled 1880, dozen at 110/
1848 Finest Sercial, Bottled 1883, dozen at 66/
1850 Vintage, Bottled 1881, dozen at 90/
1851 Sao Martinho, Bottled 1883, dozen at 90/
1850 Vintage Extra, Bottled 1870, dozen at 100/
1850 Bual, Bottled 1882, dozen at 110/
1865 Finest Sercial, Bottled 1881, dozen at 70/
1866 Cama de Lobos, Bottled 1872, dozen at 60/
1866 Madeira Secco, Bottled 1882, dozen at 70/
1866 Vintage, demijohn at 90/
1867 Quinta Do Leme, Bottled 1875, dozen at 60/
1867 Ribeiro Real, Bottled 1876, dozen at 60/
1867 Bual, Bottled 1883, dozen at 54/
1868 dry, fine, delicate, Vintage, Bottled 1874, dozen at 54/
1868 Bual, Bottled 1880, dozen at 54/
1868 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 188, dozen at 68/
1868 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 188, 2 dozen half-bottles at 68/
1868 Sercial, Bottled 1883, dozen at 70/
1868 Verdelho Canteiro, Bottled 1883, dozen at 54/
1869 very fine Ribeiro Secco, Bottled 1875, dozen at 48/
1869 very fine Santo Antonio, Bottled 1877, dozen at 48/
1870 Finest Sercial, Bottled 1881, dozen at 63/
1870 Bual, demijohn at 70/
1871 Malmsey, Bottled 1882, dozen at 80/
1872 Sercial, demijohn at 80/
1873 Verdelho, demijohn at 60/
1876 Campaneiro Canteiro, Bottled 1876, dozen at 50/
1876 Finest Cama de Lobos, Bottled 1881, dozen at 32/
1878 Finest dry Tinta (Red), Bottled 1880
1878 Finest Campanario, Bottled 1881, dozen at 32/
1878 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 1882
1878 very choice Tinta (Red), Bottled 1882, dozen at 36/
1878 Finest Malmsey, Bottled 1883, dozen at 44/
1879 Finest dry Tinta (Red), Bottled 1880, dozen at 42/

NV Finest Old West India, Bottled 1878, dozen 60/
NV Very choice, old, delicate, Bottled 1878, dozen at 67/
NV Very dry old Sercial, Bottled 1878, dozen at 78/
NV Very old, delicate, Bottled 1879, dozen at 78/
NV Verdelho Velhissimo, bottled 1879, dozen at 84/
NV Very pale, dry, bottled 1879, dozen at 34/
NV Finest old, Sao Martinho, Bottled 1879, dozen at 57/
NV Finest Old Rich, Cama de Lobos, Bottled 1879, dozen at 63/
NV Imperial Reserve, Bottled 1879, dozen at 96/
NV Full, rich, very fine bottled 1880, dozen at 32/
NV Finest old, East India. Bottled 1880, dozen at 58/
NV Finest old, rich, East India. Bottled 1880, dozen at 58/
NV Fine young rich, Bottled 1881, dozen at 22/
NV Very old, “picked” Wine, Bottled 1881, dozen at 54/
NV Choice Old Rich, bottled 1882, dozen at 29/
NV Pale, Fine, Bottled 1883, dozen at 20/
NV Rich Old, Bottled 1883, dozen at 23/
NV Fine Old, Bottled 1883, dozen at 26/
NV Very choice Bastardo, 1883, dozen at 40/
NV Very choice old, pale, Bottled 1883, dozen at 44/
NV Extra Old East India, Bottled 1883, dozen at 60/


[0] Ridley & Co.’s Monthly Wine and Spirit Trade Circular, Issue 432, Part 43. 1883.  URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=KdAmAQAAIAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

[1] Cossart Gordon & Cie : Ile de Madère. 1874. URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.31175035128282

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