Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Madeira’

Madeira

October 13, 2018 Leave a comment

Good morning!  I have not posted for ages because I finally visited the island of Madeira and been working on two Madeira related talks.  Check back next week for new posts.

Categories: Image Tags:

Madeira in Early America, Part 4

This is the final of four posts based on my talk presented to The Stanford Wine Society in April of this year.

India Madeira in America

During the Revolutionary War, the British blockaded the major ports of Boston and Charleston. In response the Continental Congress economically boycotted Great Britain which included a ban on the import of Madeira wine. Madeira shipments to America plummeted so the Madeira houses sought to make up this deficit in part by expanding trade to India and China. The share of Madeira sent to this eastern market rose to nearly half of the entire trade. During the ocean voyages the holds of these ships, with the pipes of Madeira inside of them, could reach temperatures as high as 120F. It was soon found that this India Madeira was favorably improved.

The American India trade began in 1783, when the ship United States of Philadelphia set sail for China but first stopped at Madeira. Pintard boarded the ship within half an hour of it weighing anchor. He invited the Captain, Supercargo, and Surgeon to stay at the house of Searle where he resided. He was also a relative and employed at the house. The director of the house convinced the captain that a better price would be obtained for any Madeira sold in India rather than China. Some two weeks later the United States left Madeira for India with a cargo of 125 pipes of Madeira from John Searle & Co.

The journey of the United States to Pondicherry and back to Philadelphia took an extraordinary long time with many lives lost to scurvy. The majority owner was in financial difficulties as a result, causing the ship and cargo to be auctioned off just to pay the wages. There was then the question of the debt to John Searle & Co. With only one-fifth of the Madeira bill paid the matter was turned over to attorneys, the results of which are unknown. This was not the last issue for the Searles.

Pintard wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1784 that the house of John Searle & Co. had “Vast connections in the India trade”. In 1786, when the British East India Company looked for a Madeira supplier for their colonies in India, the house of John Searle & Co won the very first bid. The Searle’s were soon extensively involved in the India Madeira trade.

The trade with India and China could yield immense profits but the early Madeira trade was not without its risks both for the owners of the ships with their cargoes and the Madeira shippers. Across several documents we learn the fate of the John Jay and General Washington, two ships, under different owners, which both set sail for the Far East in December 1788. The General Washington was to carry a cargo valued between of £10,000 to £12,000 worth of which 1/8 would be Madeira taken on board en route. Both ships loaded up with Madeira from John Searle & Co of which more than 120 casks of various sizes were on the General Washington alone.

Upon arriving in India, the supercargo of the General Washington found that they had “the misfortune to find a great imposition in the quality of our wines which has proved a ruinous affair to the whole Voyage”. There was a series of small and unexceptional vintages from 1785-1788 which appear to have caused the Searle’s to overextend themselves. The General Washington was forced to sell the first portion at “a very low cost” for goods instead of money then the rest were sold off in China. It did not help that the market was glutted with wine. The cargo of the John Jay was mostly Madeira which they were forced to sell off in Madras, Batavia, and Bombay. Both ships wrote letters of protest to support their legal cases against Searle whose failure was announced in American newspapers in 1793 and 1794.

Pintard had left Madeira in 1786 only to return in 1790 as Consul. Experienced in the India Madeira trade under the Searle’s, he created his own business and it is he who shipped four pipes of Knox’s Madeira via India. There were accompanied by two pipes for Washington. This was in fact the second order of India wine being sent to Washington. Both of which arrived within months of each other. This new type of Madeira was no doubt rare. Neither Thomas Jefferson nor James Madison ever received India wine. Pintard acknowledged this unusual order suggesting “Should you not think proper to take the pipe that is gone to India” then it could be sold to someone else.

The timing of these orders is not by accident for in 1793, France declared war against Great Britain. The British tolerated this American trade because they did not want the Americans to reactivate their alliance with France. The Jay Treaty avoided war between Great Britain and America by recognizing American neutrality in the wars with France. It also allowed formalized American trade to both the West and East Indies. The treaty was passed in 1795, the same year that the new ship Ganges picked up the pipes of Madeira destined for Washington and Knox.

The cost of the London Particular Madeira was the same but it is the freight which made these wines expensive. The freight charges for the first India pipe was £15 compared to the £3 3s direct from Madeira. That made one pipe of India wine £55 compared to £39 13s for London Particular direct. The freight for the second two pipes came to just over £33 each. These pipes of India Madeira cost a staggering £71 each, not regarding duties and drayage.

The freight for Knox’s pipes was £20 each compared to £33 each for Washington. The former were simply “cased” whereas the later were in “dble cases”. In order to prevent the theft of such expensive wine, the pipes or casks themselves were often placed inside a larger wooden case. Washington once had a pipe of Madeira entirely replaced with water so he subsequently cased his wines. For this shipment he was exceedingly cautious as he placed his Madeira inside two increasingly larger cases. Madeira typically shipped in 110 gallon pipes. Knox’s single case raised the volume to approximately 196 gallons each. Washington’s double cases would have occupied over 320 gallons each.

George Washington was willing to pay such extraordinary prices not only because Madeira “one of the most expensive liquors” but that old Madeira “is not to be had upon any terms”. Keenly aware of the scarcity of his India wine he instructed that the duties be paid “for the whole quantity” of the double cases rather “than have them uncased for the purpose of measuring the” present contents. He did not want to risk the wines stolen or adulterated.

The India Madeira for Knox and Washington arrived during the summer of 1796. Knox was notified of the arrival of his wine and that it would be stored until directed otherwise. Seven months later he received another letter explaining that the bill remained unpaid. He was given just five days to pay the outstanding $922, a huge bill given that he made $3000 per year as Secretary of War. We do not know what happened with the wine. Knox had moved back to Maine, where several of children passed away and he had engaged in failing business enterprises.

George Washington wanted his old India Madeira “reserved..for my own use when I get home” as it was “not easy to be replaced”. It was in March of 1797 that George Washington retired from his Presidency and returned to Mount Vernon. According to his Household Account books, that very same month he paid the duties on the two pipes of Madeira as well as the drayage. George Washington’s personal goods were shipped from Philadelphia to Mount Vernon so there is a bill of lading. It is noted in the margin, ”No. 21.22. Two pipes Meda. Wine not mentioned in the No. of Casks-“. George Washington brought his rare India wine back home to Mount Vernon where he drank the last glass just months before passing away in 1799. Pintard became disgraced by consular affairs that year and departed the Island. In doing so he closed this early trade in India Madeira with America.


[1] Arrowsmith, Aaron. Composite: Map of India. 1804. David Rumsey Map Collection.  URL: https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~233589~5514095:Composite–Map-of-India-?sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No#

Madeira in Early America, Part 3

This is the third of four posts based on my talk presented to The Stanford Wine Society in April of this year.

Descriptions of Madeira

Color is the first aspect one notices of wine in a glass. A desirable color was of such importance that a wine merchant wrote to George Washington in 1760 that his cask of Madeira had a “Color we have endeavored Carefully to please you.” Merchants were not simply picking casks of a particular color, they were coloring the wines. Benjamin Franklin received a case of wine split between “high coloured or Madeira Wine” and “pale Wine”. It was even recommended that cyder be colored for “It will add Greatly to its beauty to have it a little coloured”. Contemporary to James Madison’s orders was Thomas Jefferson’s receipt of a “half Pipe Natural Sherry” and a half pipe “Sherry with Color”. The “Natural Sherry” was without “color or any additives”.

There is but one example of the actual color of Madeira from this period. George Washington received three year old “very choice Particulr Madeira Wine” that was “of a fine Amber Colour”. This description matches an advertisement in New York City for similarly aged Madeira and is distinct from “old pale” Madeira. The implication is that the Amber wine was more colorful. James Madison preferred Madeira that was “rather of the deeper colour”. A later order of Madeira was also described as “of a very deep colour”.

I can find no descriptions of body in the James Madison’s papers. We know that George Washington requested a “rich oily Wine” for one of his Madeira orders. Thomas Jefferson later wrote of “silky Madeira” that was made by “putting a small portion of Malmsey into the dry Madeira.”

Though this mixture was made famous by Jefferson we also find it in a letter from John Drayton written several decades earlier. Drayton was a chief Justice of South Carolina and a wealthy planter who built the Palladian mansion Drayton Hall which still exists on the Ashley River near Charleston. He wrote to his merchant Newton-Gordon in 1771 that he wanted “a couple of pipes of the best madeira for my use, of the finest flavor. Silkey-soft & smooth upon the palate — no ways ruff, sweetish & a little more Malmsey in it than usual.” Drayton regarded the silky character as highly important. His 28 Pound Sterling Madeira is described as “a silky fine flavoured wine, and is allowed 10 by good judges here.” I take that to mean 10 points, hopefully out of 10. That Drayton scored his wine may not be so unusual for he made his fortune from rice which was rated according to the quality of its milling.

I mentioned before how Madison liked to finish aging his Madeira in his garret. The term “mellow” appears in the 1780s to describe the Madeira stored by Americans in “the tops of the houses”. At the same time it was acknowledged in a committee meeting about providing the best investment for returning British East India ships, that Madeira mellowed from the long journey in the hot holds. Despite this early acknowledgement, it was not until after the end of the War of 1812, when it became more common for wine to travel from Madeira to India or China before returning to America, did the term become more frequent. In fact it became synonymous with wine from that trade route.

Up Next: India Madeira in America


[1]  Mallet, Allain Manesson.  Description de l’univers. 1683. URL: https://archive.org/details/descriptiondelun03mall

Madeira in Early America, Part 2

This is the second of four posts based on my talk presented to The Stanford Wine Society in April of this year.

Vüe ​​de la ville et de la rade de Funchal capitale de l’ile de Madere, Volume 2 of the “Histoire générale des voyages” of AF Prévost (Paris: Didot, 1746). (1)

How It Was Aged

James Madison was very specific when it came to the handling of Madeira for he desired to achieve a particular flavor. He preferred to age his Madeira in cask for at least five years. When he received an order of Madeira he was sure to let the cask remain stationery for quite some time. This allowed all of the lees or dead yeast cells to settle on the bottom. As an alternative to waiting, many people would fine their wines to remove the lees. This usually involved putting an ingredient into the cask to help bind the lees together so they would settle down on the bottom.

One correspondent noted his wines were frequently spoiled in finning. His preferred method was to pour a pint of milk into the cask. After agitating the cask the top third of the cask would be clear in one week and the bottom would be clear in two weeks. The correspondent drank his wine from the cask for it was “milder than when bottled” and that bottled wine “has a sediment which often fouls the wine.”

Madison did not drink his Madeira straight from cask. After letting the cask age and settle he preferred to bottle the Madeira for further aging. He felt that this was the ideal “mode of compleating its flavour.” He wrote that “wine is said to attain its perfection best by lying 5 or 6 years in Cask, and then going into bottles and kept throughout in warm situations.” Madison found that a particular parcel of Madeira which he had bottled then stored in the garret or attic for 18 months had become “exquisite”.

It is curious as to when people first started storing their Madeira, not in the cellar, but in the attic or garret. I thought, at first, that this tradition might have come from such Madeira loving cities as Charleston. Located on the water, many existing 18th century houses do not have basements due to the high water level. However, the earliest reference I can find comes from Sir Hans Sloane, the famous naturalist whose immense collection formed the backbone of The British Museum. Sir Sloane wrote in 1707, “Madera Wines have this particular to them, different from French Wines, and all others coming hither, that it keeps better in a hot Place, and expos’d to the Sun, than in a cool Cellar”.

Philadelphia was a great Madeira city where houses contained both cellars and garrets. We know from probate inventories that during our period of interest, of houses with cellars, ¼ kept liquor and beer down below. Over the same period, of houses with garrets, 1/8 kept liquor and beer in the garret. Elizabeth Drinker, the wife of wealthy merchant Henry Drinker, noted that one fall day in 1804, her husband and his coachmen “have been busy this Afternoon moving a Cask of wine from the Cellar up 2 pr. Stairs, obliged to nearly empty the cask before they could get it up, and then fill it again.” We know from his 1809 inventory that there were “4 demijohns containing wine” up two pairs of stairs. The wine mentioned would be Madeira stored in his garret and I wonder if that’s where he filled the demijohns.

George Washington always stored his Madeira in the cellar of his home at Mount Vernon. However, for one particular order of India Madeira, near the end of his second term as President, he was advised that his recently arrived pipes of Madeira would improve better if left in the counting house above ground than in any cellar. This was a change for Washington for most of his life he had his Madeira drawn from the pipe on a daily basis. By this point you must now wonder what these wines were like.

Up Next: Descriptions of Madeira


[1] Vüe ​​de la ville et de la rade de Funchal capitale de l’ile de Madere, Volume 2 of the “Histoire générale des voyages” of AF Prévost (Paris: Didot, 1746).  Wikicommons. URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:V%C3%BCe_de_la_ville_et_de_la_rade_de_Funchal_capitale_de_l%E2%80%99ile_de_Madere_(1746).jpg

Madeira in Early America, Part 1

During April of this year I flew to San Francisco to attend the latest annual Madeira tasting organized by Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.) and Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port).  These tastings draw an international group of Madeira experts whose presence was leveraged by The Stanford Wine Society.  Together with The Rare Wine Company, a series of talks and a tasting was organized for both Wine Society members and Stanford university alumni.  At this event, Mannie Berk delivered an introductory talk on the history of Madeira.  This was followed by three breakout sessions: Collecting Madeira with David Boobbyer (Reid Wines of Bath, England) and Paul Day (Madeira collector and expert), Madeira Blending with Ricardo Freitas (Vinhos Barbeito of Madeira), and Madeira in Early America with myself.  These sessions were then followed by a walk around tasting. I will present the core of my talk over the course of four posts this week.

Madeira in Early America

When Henry Knox, the Boston book seller turned Secretary of War under General George Washington, was notified that his four pipes of Madeira wine had arrived into Philadelphia during the summer of 1796, more than one year had elapsed since his order was placed. This was a long time even given the standards of 18th century shipping but these were no ordinary pipes of wine for they arrived from Madeira via India.

Madeira was long the favorite wine in America and more specifically, the only wine of choice amongst the wealthy and powerful. It is true that they ordered bottles of Chateau Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour, and Margux by the dozen but the main expenditure was on top-quality Madeira acquired by the hundreds of gallons. Madeira was available from merchants up and down the coast of America but the choicest parcels could only be secured by ordering straight from the Island.

The period marked by the Revolutionary War, from 1775-1783, and the War of 1812 (1812-1815), both between Great Britain and America, are particularly rich with regards to the history of Madeira. No longer could one count on orders arriving with regularity for blockades, seizures at sea, and embargos were constantly interrupting the supply of Madeira. Though inconvenient, this was not disastrous for with the development of American independence came new trade routes. Thus in the time of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, Madeira came not only straight from the Island but also the East Indies, China, the West Indies, and even Brazil.

It is this period that I will focus on today. I will describe how Madeira was ordered, how it was aged, provide descriptions of the wine, and finally look at the introduction of India Madeira in America.

Ordering

In the 18th century Madeira was sold based on quality with such increasing designations as New York Market, London Market, and London Particular. The top London Particular is what the Founding Fathers would order or as a young Washington wrote, “from the best House in Madeira a Pipe of the best old wine”. These wines were ordered by the pipe, containing 110 gallons each. While these wines were blended, there were also unblended varieties such as Sercial and Malvasia. These were quite rare, expensive, and typically available only by the quarter-cask.

As London Particular was a blend, shippers would listen to their customers’ requests for color, body, and flavor. Thus the best Madeira for one’s taste was obtained by ordering straight from the island. The shippers kept track of their annual orders to cultivate the relationship; making sure to set aside good pipes such as what one firm did for Governor Penn.

Orders could take place in several ways. In some instances the shipping house reached out directly to the customer as when Martha Custis, future wife of George Washington, received a letter stating the house would like to send her a pipe yearly and that she could “depend on being supplied with the best.” In other instances orders were direct as with Madison.

John Marsden Pintard, US Commercial Agent and later Consul at Madeira, tried a patriotic approach. In the 1780s and 1790s, the Barbary pirates sailing out of North Africa, began to capture American vessels and enslave the crews. In 1794, the same year that the American Navy was commissioned to fight this threat, Pintard sent a letter to Knox, Washington, and others. He proposed to ship wines “superior to any House on the Island” and pay $4 per pipe, which cost $250 with freight, towards a fund for the relief of any American captured now or in the future. He also guaranteed that the wine would match the superior quality or he would not charge for it.

With Independence came the development of commercial relationships and diplomatic agreements between countries. American agents in foreign lands often took the initiative. When James Leander Cathcart, US Consul General in Spain, learned of the destruction of the President’s House with the Madeira contained within, during the War of 1812, he immediately had one house send several pipes of “excellent quality” supposing “that your stock was burnt by the Goths”. Cathcart himself was held captive in Algiers for 11 years but we do not know if he benefited from Pintard’s fund.

Up Next: Madeira in Early American, How it was Aged


[1] William Speiden journals: Vol. 1, Mar. 9, 1852-July 2, 1854. Manuscript Division, The Library of Congress.  URL: https://www.loc.gov/item/mss830450001/

William Coombe’s “The manner of drawing pipes of wine on a sledge” from 1821

February 2, 2018 Leave a comment

“The manner of drawing pipes of wine on a sledge” [1]

The image in this post is one of 27 from William Coombe’s book A history of Madeira (1821).  I selected the image because the pipe is branded “N G M” for Newton, Gordon, and Murdoch.  William Coombe (1741-1823) is a writer famous for his Dr. Syntax series of verse illustrated by Thomas Rowlandson.  This familiarity with satire perhaps explains the soft, somewhat jovial facial expressions common in the Madeira illustrations and certainly explains the accompanying verse.

Coombe first comments that the oxen pulling the sledges are “a very beautiful race of animals” with the additional  benefit that “the meat is excellent”.  Or from his own verse:

And now it is the oxen’s task,
To drag along the liquid cask,
Filled with the juice that aids the treat
When they’re cut up, and turned to meat.


[1] “The manner of drawing pipes on a sledge” from William Coombe’s A history of Madeira (1821). Bayerische Staatsbibliothek URL: http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0010/bsb00103983/images/

Bastardo & Moscatel: The Tasting 1927 – 1830

January 20, 2018 Leave a comment

On April 22, 2017, I attended my third amazing Madeira event Bastardo & Moscatel – The Tasting in New York City. This was the sixth in a series of definitive annual Madeira tastings organized by Mannie Berk (The Rare Wine Co.) and Roy Hersh (For The Love of Port).

Unlike the previous two events I have attended, I did not write an article for the tasting booklet.  Bastardo and Moscatel were produced in such small quantities that I have yet to come across references in the correspondence of our Founding Fathers, historic newspaper advertisements, and even 19th century auction catalogs. For this post I explore the history behind the Bastardo we tasted.

Noel Cossart writes that even before phylloxera the production of Bastardo was so small that it was not kept separate, instead it was pressed with other grapes.  Cossart Gordon typically pressed their Bastardo and some other varieties with Verdelho.  They did replenish their 1844 Camara de Lobos Solera with Bastardo according to Henry Vizetelly.  So scare are descriptions that the 1970 advertisement by Sherry-Lehmann for 1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo is the earliest I know of in an American paper.

The rarity of Bastardo is evidenced by Mannie Berk’s determination that the only pre-World War II vintages are 1830, 1836, 1858, 1870, 1875, 1876, and 1927.  As far as post-War vintages, it became extinct until Ricardo Freitas convinced a farmer to plant a small vineyard in 2004.  Today there is just over 1 hectare of Bastardo planted on the island.  Bastardo has always been scarce and bottlings of it even more so.

It is incredible then that we sat down to 12 different bottles of Bastardo at the tasting.  It might even seem impossible that of these selections, nine bottles were organized into three single-vintage flights: 1927, 1875, and 1870.  These groupings become understandable if the wines originally came from the same source, i.e. single pipes of each vintage.  Thus the important task of the tasting was to ascertain if each flight originated from a mother wine.

There have been three commercial releases of 1927 Bastardo and we tasted all three: the D’Oliveira, Leacock, and Blandy.  There is a fourth known Bastardo, the two casks sitting at Henriques & Henriques but it has not been released for sale and Mannie Berk was unable to obtain a sample for our tasting.  We know that the D’Oliveira came from Adegas do Terreão which they purchased in 2002 including this Bastardo in barrel.  Of the five known wines from this vintage there are at most four different sources.

For the 1927 and 1875 vintages I feel reasonably certain that two wines in each flight came from the same source.  The 1927 Leacock, Bastardo and 1927 Blandy’s, Bastardo Demijohn Selection I found similar.  The Blandy was recently bottled from demijohn and the Leacock was in bottle much longer given the dusty nose.  Despite differences in bottle age, both wines still share a pungent flavor that is remarkably similar as is the acidity.  This similarity narrows down the potential sources to three.  Without tasting the 1927 Henriques & Henriques I cannot specify further.

I found another strong commonality with the 1875 Cossart Gordon, Bastardo and 1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo which both show a similar copper color and bear a citrus flavor.

The comparisons fall apart with the weaker 1870 vintage.  The bottle of 1870 Blandy’s, Bastardo is fully mature, the 1870 Unknown, Bastardo is round, sweet, old and the  1870 Favila, Bastardo fresh, floral, and elegant.

Phylloxera

Physical map of the Island of Madeira. London : E. Standford, [1856]. ETH-Bibliothek Zürich via Old Maps Online.

The answer as to why I could find commonality with the 1927 and 1875 vintages and not the 1870 might have to do with the spread of phylloxera during the 1870s.  Phylloxera arrived on the island in 1872.  It took over a decade for its spread to be largely contained.  Over the first three years it was devastating to a few particular areas, significantly impacting the diversity of vineyards on the south side of the island.  If Bastardo was grown in vineyards throughout this side, phylloxera would have the effect of reducing the number of separate Bastardo vineyards thus increasing the chance that later vintages came from the same source.

The scarcity of Bastardo even prior to the arrival of phylloxera means we do not have a clear picture on where it was grown.  However, contemporary sources reveal there are at least two areas where Bastardo was grown during the 1870s.  Those are Camara de Lobos and Sao Martinho.   According to Noel Cossart, the 1870 Avery’s Bastardo came from Henriques’s Camara de Lobos vineyard.  He also writes of Cossart Gordon having an 1875 and 1876 Bastardo as coming from the Doria family vineyard Quinta do Salao at Camara de Lobos.  According to Ricardo Freitas, the 1870 Favilia Bastardo came from Sao Martinho as the wine belonged to Manuel Jose Vieira who had substantial vineyards in that area.

There are no detailed maps or timelines regarding the spread of phylloxera on Madeira.  We can form a general understanding on the impact on these two regions by reviewing O Archivo Rural Jornal de Agricultura (1876), Victor Fatio’s Etat de la question phylloxérique en Europe en 1877, Henry Vizetelly’s Facts about Port and Madeira (1878), Francisco d’Almeida Brito’s Le phylloxera et autres epiphyties de la vigne en Portugal (1884),  Alfredo de Villanova de Vasconcellos Correia de Barros’ Relatorio ácerca dos serviços phylloxericos em 1887 (1887), and Dwight Morrow Jr.’s Phylloxera in Portugal (1973).

Phylloxera was first introduced to the island in 1872.  The importation of vines through the port of Funchal was regarded as the source.  Curiously enough, the phylloxera first bypassed nearby Sao Martinho, instead showing up in the revered vineyards of Camara de Lobos.  This was the first area affected and it was in serious state through 1875 and 1876.  At the time of Henry Vizetelly’s visit in 1877, phylloxera had destroyed nearly all of the vineyards in Camara de Lobos.  The production ranged from 8,000 pipes in 1871 to 300 pipes in 1877 with an estimated 100 pipes for 1878.  The region was considered completely destroyed by 1887.

The vineyards of Sao Martinho were only slightly affected in 1876 and 1877.  This could be due to the orientation or generally higher elevation.  Sao Martinho would see significant devastation by 1887 but for the period of our interest it was a viable source for fruit.

1875 Cossart Gordon and Shortridge-Lawton

Cossart Gordon produced an 1875 and 1876 Bastardo from Camara de Lobos during the most devastating period for the region.  It seems counterintuitive at first but then their vineyard was located at Quinta do Salao in Estreito de Camara de Lobos.  The phylloxera first affected vines at lower altitudes of Camara de Lobos.  The unaffected vines were located at several thousand feet in elevation in the Estreito parish.  Henry Vizetelly writes that this area was untouched as of 1877 which explains why Cossart Gordon could produce the 1875 Bastardo that we tasted.

As for the Shortridge-Lawton, we can infer its history due to the Madeira Wine Association (MWA).  The MWA was founded by Blandy’s and Leacock in 1925 with Cossart-Gordon joining in 1953.  Shortridge-Lawton joined as well eventually becoming just a brand.  Our bottle of 1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo is labeled as being selected for Sherry-Lehman by the MWA during the 1970s.  The MWA pooled wine from its various members so it is reasonable that the Shortridge-Lawton is really the same as Cossart-Gordon’s Bastardo from Estreito de Camara de Lobos.

1875 and 1870 Blandy’s

While the number of existing vineyard sites reduced from the 1870 to the 1875 vintage, the Cossart Gordon vineyard in Estreito de Camara de Lobos and Vieira’s vineyard in Sao Martinho survived for the 1875 vintage.  I doubt these are the sources for our bottles of Blandy’s based on taste and history.  I found both wines savory and different from the other wines I tasted.

The origins of the 1875 and 1870 Blandy’s Bastardo at first appear somewhat of a mystery. Noel Cossart writes that the 1870 Avery’s Bastardo came from the Henriques Camara de Lobos vineyard.  The Henriques family owned vineyards at the lower elevation Pico da Torre in Camara de Lobos as well at the higher elevation of Estreito de Camara de Lobos.  If Noel Cossart is being specific then the 1870 Avery’s came from Pica da Torre which would have been destroyed by the 1875 vintage.

Alex Liddell writes in Madeira (1998) that the 1870 Blandy’s, Bastardo is originally from the cellars of Padre Henriques, vicar of Estreito de Camara de Lobos.  It is possible that Blandy’s grew Bastardo at both Estreito and Pico da Torre.  However, given its scarcity I suspect they would have grown Bastardo just at Estreito.  This leads me to believe that the 1870 Avery’s is from Henrique’s Estreito vineyard just like the 1870 Blandy’s.  If the 1875 Blandy’s Bastardo came from Henriques as well then it had to come from Estreito and not Pico da Torre because it was destroyed by phylloxera by the 1875 vintage.

Conclusion

That I found commonality between wines from the 1875 vintage and not the 1870 vintage is due to our sample size.  At first I thought Bastardo vineyards which existed in 1870 were destroyed by 1875.  However, Bastardo was grown at higher-elevations on the south-side of Madeira.  These areas remained untouched for both the 1870 and 1875 vintages.    The known Bastardo vineyards for these vintages are Cossart Gordon’s Doria family vineyard Quinta do Salao at Estreito de Camara de Lobos, Padre Henriques’ vineyard at Estreito de Camara de Lobos, and Manuel Jose Viera family vineyard at Sao Martinho.  This of course leaves one last wine, the 1870 Unknown, Bastardo.  While it tasted like no other wine, I doubt it is pure Bastardo so I cannot confirm a fourth source.  Please find my tasting notes below.

Bastardo Tasting Notes

1927 D’Oliveira, Bastardo
Bottled from cask in 2014. The lightest color of the trio of 1927s. A pungent nose that is balsamic then with air enjoyable aromas of sweet confection and brown sugar. This liquidy, puckering, and salivating wine had a drier finish. The most gentle of the three, there is a shorter finish followed by a gentle wave of flavor in the aftertaste. ***.

1927 Leacock, Bastardo
This is the darkest of the trio with more brown hints. The low-lying musk mixes with old dusty books then brown sugar. The nose likely affected by a long time in bottle. There is a sweeter and rounder entry with wood box flavors and a fine vein of acidity lurking. The pungency returns in the end as does some searing acidity. I enjoy the integration of wood flavors. ***(*).

1927 Blandy, Bastardo Demijohn Selection
Bottled from demijohn in 2013. Francisco Albuquerque states this came from the best 40-50 liters owned by the family. This is the most aromatic of the trio with pungent note, aromatic musk, and an attractive animale quality. The wine is sweet as well as immediately pungent with round flavors, a spicy middle, and compelling liveliness on the tongue. The flavors stand out on the tongue moving to a drier finish that is fresh and powerful with citric hints, and wraps up both savory and saline. With additional air this pungent wine retains its grip in the mouth and persistent aftertaste. ****.

1875 Cossart Gordon, Bastardo
A moderate level of aromas that are deep with supporting pungency. There is a savory start on the tongue tip before the wine builds both pungency and power that is soon joined by searing acidity. The body has weight up front, the finish is dry but some sweetness clings to the gums in the aftertaste. Additional complexity comes from lemon citrus and bitters. This is more powerful than the Shortridge & Lawton. ****.

1875 Shortridge-Lawton, Bastardo
One of 120 bottles reserved for Sherry-Lehman of New York. This nose is subtle and gentle. The watering start brings a bit of a separate sweet aspect. There is weight to the wine as well though more noticeable up front. At first it is less balanced in the finish with residual sugar in the aftertaste but upon revisiting, it comes together well. It mixes with orange and lemon citrus with bitters. ****.

1875 Blandy’s, Bastardo
Bottled 7 of 180. There is, perhaps, a hint of citrus on the nose. The savory, dense powerful start moves on to a mature, red-wine like middle with old wood flavors. There is body with plenty of grip in the savory, citrus coating finish. **.

1870 Blandy’s, Bastardo
The nose is low-lying with sweet musk aromas. The round entry is not assertive, rather savory with fine complex flavors that become gentler as the wine progresses ultimately fading away in the aftertaste. There is a tobacco note as well. This is certainly less vigorous than the 1875s. ***.

1870 Unknown, Bastardo
This is the darkest of the trio of 1870s, in fact, almost cola like. The nose is stinky. In the mouth this taste of sweet, old, poor pruned clunky fruit which lacks acidity to support it. The round, sweet, and savory wine tastes past prime which is ultimately too distracting. What is this? Poor.

1870 Favila, Bastardo
The reddest and brownest of the trio. There is a minty, fresh hint to the nose with a delicacy that marks it completely different than all other wines. The flavors are sweeter and rounded with fresh, floral tea flavors woven throughout. There is fine balance to this elegant wine. ***.

1858 Leacock, Lomelino, Bastardo
Rebottled 1900. The nose offers subtle tobacco and subtle fruit. The flavors are tobacco infused with low-lying custard sweetness and eventually some bitterness. There is a thick, mature wine like middle before the bitter finish of licorice and tobacco. Perhaps musty in the aftertaste. **.

1836 Leacock, Lomelino, Bastardo
Rebottled 1926. The nose offers fine wood notes and perhaps licorice. In the mouth this is a fine and elegant wine with a zip of acidity supporting the rounded body. This is ultimately a bit sweeter in flavor than acidic. It is certainly an older wine but it still sports a bit of racy character. ***.

1830 Welsh Bros, Bastardo
There is a pungency to the nose that the other wines do not have. The nose is strong and decent but on revisiting it is smelly. This is a salty wine with less body and drier than the nose suggests. All of the power is up front, the wine is not balanced. It is dry, bitter, and the alcohol is noticeable. **.

Moscatel Tasting Notes

1900 D’Oliveira, Moscatel
This wine is very dark and the nose is sweaty and pungent. It is round, sweet, and racy in the mouth. The residual sugar is certainly present up front and in the aftertaste. A wood note adds complexity. There is power throughout with the wine sharpening up in the finish as more acidity is brought forth. ***.

1900 Leacock, Moscatel
Rather dark. The nose is subtle compared to the D’Oliveira but the pungency does come out. There is plenty of sweet such that you can practically feel it. The start is higher-toned with some lift from acidity. A bit of tea and pungency add complexity. ***.

1900 Avery’s, Moscatel
This is an oak color with a touch fruitier nose. This is lively from the start with flavors of black, sweet tea and ripe texture. It does not have the level of sweetness that the D’Oliveira and Leacock posses. It is an interesting old-school type of wine. **.

1890 Barrous e Sousa, Moscatel
In bottle for 60 years. A little stinky. This is thick with integrated sweetness and texture. There is an interesting, odd flavor in this weighty wine that drapes over the tongue. Dried fruit develops in the soft middle with textured sugar in the finish. There is both less sweetness and acidity but the wine is balanced. ***.

1875 D’Oliveira, Moscatel
Bottled in the 1970s. This is the darkest along with the 1870 Blandys. There is less sugar up front but the balanced start conveys sweetness and pungency. There is an attractive mineral, racy vein as the wine reveals density and tea flavors. It is concentrated but not too much. ***(*).

1870 Manuel Jose Vieira, Moscatel, Camara de Lobos
This is the lightest color. Wow, this is an acidity driven with minimal sugar, old perfume, and thin body. It is old-school but volatile. *.

1870 Blandy’s, Moscatel
The sweetness comes from textured brown sugar. The wine has power and some searing acidity near the finish but the residual sugar drapes over the acidity. In the end this is satisfying with good flavor from the baking spices. **.

1856 Barbeito, Moscatel
A medium color compared to the others. This is pungent and acidity driven like a non-Moscatel Madeira. The acidity builds and is persistent but not offending like the 1870 Vieira. The body has glycerin. The driest wine of the flight. Is it pure Moscatel? ***(*).