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Sampling Verdelho Madeira at the Savile Club

madeira glass

I’ve long had a fondness for Madeira wines, having been introduced to them as a student.  I was privileged to try the Cama de Lobos 1789 Solera (pre French Revolution), and later the 1815 ‘Waterloo,’ and I bought four bottles of the 1824, laid down while Thomas Jefferson was still alive.  I drank one of them with friends one very pleasant summer evening in Alexandria, Virginia, looking out from a balcony to some of Jefferson’s legacy illuminated across the Potomac.

Recently I attended a Madeira tasting at the Savile Club.  There were 12 different ones to taste, all of them Verdelhos with acidity overlaying a medium sweetness.  Some of them were spectacular, and I liked the 1895 Blandy’s best of all.  Dinner was served, of chicken soup, a delicious steak suet pudding, poached pear, and cheeses.  It by no means impacted upon the taste of the Madeiras, with the older ones described as having “an unusually complex character redolent of roasted nuts and sweet charcoal.”  That’s not a bad description.


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