Today’s Story: The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Madeira
The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Madeira is a project launched in 1998 by Ricardo Freitas (owner of Madeira producer Vinhos Barbeito) and Mannie Berk (owner of The Rare Wine Company). The project was launched out of a mutual appreciation and love of Madeira, a wine that was America’s most highly sought-after during the 18th and 19th centuries before falling into obscurity. With a core portfolio of wines names after American cities where Madeira was most-prized, the Historic Series Madeira bottlings are meant to capture the unique style of each place. These include the Baltimore Rainwater Special Reserve, Charleston Sercial Special Reserve, Savannah Verdelho Special Reserve, Boston Bual Special Reserve, and New York Malmsey Special Reserve which showcase the tendency for drier Madeira in the southern states and sweeter Madeira in the northern states. In addition to this core portfolio, the Historic Series Madeira also includes limited releases named for Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and the city of New Orleans. All wines are blended with Madeira ranging from 10 to 60 years old, and they are meant to be affordable bottlings to re-introduce this great wine to wider groups of consumers.
Today’s Wine: NV New York Malmsey Special Reserve Madeira
100% Malvasia; 19.5% ABV
The NV New York Malmsey Special Reserve is medium tawny in color though it has brownish hues since I’ve had this open for a few days. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of fruitcake, spiced plum, prune, fig, clove, coffee grounds, toffee, and walnut. Flavors are also of pronounced intensity, and the palate displays notes of dates, fig, fruitcake, sweet tobacco, caramel, mocha, browned butter, and oaky spice. This sweet Madeira is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish.
Price: $50. I think this is very solid value for Madeira, as the balance, length, intensity, and complexity here are quite profound. Though there are certainly better Madeiras out there, this Malmsey and the others from The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series are great beginner bottlings.
Finca Allende was established in 1986 by Miguel Ángel de Gregorio in the hilltop town of Briones in the Rioja Alta region of Spain. Allende’s home, the Ibarra Palace, is a mansion built in 1675 for Don Pedro Ibarra and it’s situated amongst hillside vineyards that capture both Mediterranean and Atlantic influences in a unique and diverse terroir. Allende operates in three vineyards, each with their own microclimate and soil types to enhance various characters of the winegrowing process: Mártires (planted in 1970 in clay soil), El Calvario (planted in 1945 in stony/gravelly soils), and Aurus (60 year average vine age in clay and deep gravel soils). In caring for these vineyards, Allende refuses to use herbicides or synthetic chemicals and practices more traditional and manual farming (like plowing most vines with mules). All fruit is hand-harvested, hand-sorted three times, and manually punched down. Long aging in both barrel and bottle help guide the wines into the “Allende style” which is often fully-rounded, fuller bodied, and well-structured.
Today’s Wine: 2015 Rioja Blanco
95% Viura, 5% Malvasia; 13.5% ABV
The 2015 Rioja Blanco is transparent medium to deep gold in color. This is a lovely wine on the nose, showcasing aromas of lemon zest, peach, juicy pear, golden apple, honeysuckle, white truffle, dill, and vanilla cream. Moving onto the palate, I get notes of honeydew, lime zest, grapefruit, ripe pear, white florals, mild green herbs, exotic white spice, and almond. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, a fully-rounded and somewhat oily mouthfeel, and a long refreshing finish.
Price: $30. I think this is a very nice value wine, and to be honest I’ve found quite a few Riojas and Rioja Blancos that can be. This seems to be drinking incredibly well right now and I see it being at a great point for at least a few more years.
I previously wrote about R. López de Heredia, one of my favorite producers in Rioja, when I reviewed the 2006 Viña Tondonia Reserva in One of My Favorite Rioja Producers Does It Again. LdH is a family-run winery established in 1877 by Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta after he fell in love with the Rioja Alta region, particularly the area of its capital Haro. All of the fruit sourced for these wines is estate-owned, a pathway they started following early on when Don Rafael realized it was the surest way to ensure impeccable quality of his vineyards, fruit, and wines. All harvesting is accomplished solely by hand and the fruit is treated very delicately in baskets made at the winery’s cooperage. In the cellar, the López de Heredia family follows traditional winemaking methods passed down from generation to generation.
Today’s Wine: 2008 Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco
90% Viura, 10% Malvasía; 12.5% ABV
The 2008 Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco is beautiful deep gold in color and transparent. The exquisite nose showcases aromas of peach, apricot, honeydew, chamomile, hazelnut, brioche, honey, and seashell, while the palate displays notes of lime zest, melon, orange marmalade, tropical citrus, white florals, toffee, almonds, and mineral. This wine is light- to medium-bodied with gorgeous high acidity and a plush, luxurious mouthfeel into a long finish.
Price: $65. Even though these are more expensive than their red counterparts (thanks to a smaller production) I find them to be just as superior a value for their gorgeous depth and complexity. Pair this with lobster, roasted chicken, or almonds.