Wine Blogging Wednesday #51: "Baked Goods"

Vinted on November 12, 2008 binned in best of, wine blogging wednesday, wine review

Welcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday #51(WineDude)!
Dude here is hosting the 51st edition of the venerable WBW, and today’s theme is Baked Goods – reviews of wines that are deliberately heated (aka “Madeirized”), and we’re also allowing reviews of sweet Fortified wines to be included. For the scoop on how Wine Blogging Wednesday works, check out the WBW site. More details on the background of the theme can be found here.

Now… let’s get this funk started!

I love Madeira. Love is a strong word. And I love Madeira.

It’s often sweet, incredibly tasty, high in refreshing acidity, and because it’s already been exposed to oxygen and heat (which would utterly destroy normal wines), it’s virtually indestructible.

A Madeira wine from 1935 will pretty much taste the same today as it did in 1935, even if opened and enjoyed tablespoon by luscious tablespoon from then until now. Not only is it tasty, indestructible, and food-friendly, it also boasts an abv of 19% or more. It’s a bad-ass wine!…

Normally, I’d expound on the storied history of Madeira, and give you background on the traditional styles of Madeira, food pairings, etc.


Rather than take you through the history of Madeira wine – which I figured might be covered by one or more of the other fine WBW participants anyway (and if not can easily be found in detailed play-by-play on the web) – I thought I’d instead show you, by way of comparison, just how bad-ass Madeira actually is.

Let’s compare kick-ass, indestructible Madeira to the so-called “Invincible” IRON MAN:

“Invincible” IRON MAN

Totally Kick-Ass

Indestructible Madeira

Abilities Superhuman strength, Repulsor-ray technology, Genius-level intellect

Intense aroma, Mouth-watering acidity, Ass-kicking 19%+ abv
Edge: Madeira

Protection Bullet-proof, temperature-resistant armorTIE Impervious to hot ovens, attic temperatures, and long, perilous sea voyages


Creator Stan Lee

The Dutch Armada

Edge: Madeira

Nemesis The Mandarin, Alcoholism, Soft spot for Pepper Pots, Very large magnets


Cork Taint

Tastes Like… Metal alloy Nuts, caramel, dried figs. –
Edge: Madeira
Result of Oxidation Rust

Characteristics of nuts and honey

Edge: Madeira


No contest: Madeira totally trumps IRON MAN, 5-2.

Anyway, traditional Madeira comes in four flavors of grapes, each chosen to highlight a particular style of the wine, examples of which I tasted in comparison (witness below).

Notice how the color of each wine gets darker? This is a key to the style, which range from dry and nutty to lusciously sweet and caramely (is that a word…?):

Blandy’s Dry Sercial (Aged 5 Years in oak): Made from the Sercial grape, grown in the cooler high-altitude regions of the Madeira island. Sherry-like, nutty (almonds, baby!) with searing acidity. Pass the hors d’oeuvres!

Blandy’s 5 Year Vedelho: Made from Verdelho (also grown in the cooler Northern part of the island) – Sherry-like, but this time its darker and more ‘Oloroso-ish’; the oak is more pronounced, and there’s touch of sweetness balancing the acidity.

Cossart Gordon Medium Rich Bual (15 years): From the Bual grape (probably my favorite) from the warmer southern portion of Madeira, it ripens to higher levels so it can be made into a sweeter style. And sweet it is – as in sweet fig, vanilla, and hazelnut, with a long nutty finish.

Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Year: Malmsey is the malvasia grape, grown in the warmest and lowest-altitude regions of Madeira. These wines can become ultra-indestructible and typically have a near-perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. In this case, the wine is bursting with burnt caramel, rum, honey, and smoke, with a smooth, luscious mouthfeel.

Now do you see why I use the word “love” when I’m talking Madeira?






  • Erika

    Thanks Joe, loved that kick-ass chart!

  • Sonadora

    Hey Joe! Thanks for hosting! Here’s my post!

  • Taster B

    Hi Joe! Love the super hero compare/contrast! I think your tasting flight was probably the way to go…

  • Matt - mmWine

    What an awesome post! I think you captured both the essence of this fantastic dessert wine, as well as your love for it! I really enjoyed reading the post, as you made it a LOT of fun, and you know I’m all about a good time with wine!

    A lot of time the question I get is “How long can this last once opened.” I appreciate your covering that in your post. I neglected to mention it in mine. Now, if only I could get my mitts on a bottle from 1935!

    My Madeira post is at and I am SO excited as it’s my first post for WBW! And as you’ll see, it was my first experience with Madeira, but it won’t be my last.


  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Thanks all!Bradley – I think "Malmsey" will be my new meditation mantra!

  • john witherspoon

    hey Joe great post. I loved the comparison between Madeira and Ironman!! Very nice! I seem to have done the one Blandy you didn’t taste, the Bual 5 year.
    Here is my post.

  • Justin Roberts

    Love the Iron Man vs Madeira Wineoff! Great post. Thanks for hosting. My first post is up over at
    Cheers. Justin

  • Randy

    OMG, Joe! Twitter is right, you killed it with this WBW post. Love the Iron Man comparison, clearly no match for Madeira!

    I only wish I liked the stuff. Ah well, different strokes.

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Thanks everyone!

    We are “CRUSHING IT!”


  • dhonig


    Once you’re done basking in the glory of this great WBW, I hope you’ll cross post at The 89 Project (you are a member, aren’t you?). You have 2 WS 89-rated wines here:

    Wine Spectator

    December 23, 2005

    BLANDY’S Sercial Madeira 5 Year Old NV (89 points, $21)

    Dried apricot, golden raisin and smoky flavors fill this fresh and lively Madiera. Balanced, and edged with lush spicy notes, which linger on the creamy finish. Try on ice as an aperitif. Drink now through 2010.

    –Kim Marcus

    Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Year

    KM Wine Spectator 12/31/05 89/100

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    dhonig – had no idea I had 2 89ers here!

    Will definitely cross-post!

  • Bradley Cooper, Winemaker

    That was great.
    I was amused.
    I was informed.
    I feel an overall growth result in my personal character.
    And I like saying ‘Malmsey’

  • Kori

    Loved the comparison – very original! Thanks for hosting. Here’s a link to my post:

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    thanks, kori! just tried posting a comment on your blog but it’s not taking for some reason? anyway, love the post on PX – bravo!

  • Jason Whiteside

    Nice to see I donated to a worthy cause! I’m not getting those Madeiras back, am I?

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Jason – you are THE MAN.

    There is pretty much zer chance of you seeing these Madeiras again, unless you come to my house before Sunday ;-)

    But I did give you some Opus recently… so are we not even…

  • Rebecca

    Joe – If a single blog post could win an Oscar, I’d vote for this one. Well executed! Feel free to see what I was sipping this WBW at Cheers!

  • Dr. Debs

    Joe: Here’s my post:

    Everybody else is right. To paraphrase my students, your post rocked. Thanks for such a great theme.

  • k2

    Dude, thanks for the comment. I think yours is a bit more thorough. Not to be apest, but I posted a VERY BRIEF overview of Madeira as a guest blogger at


  • Alex

    Excellent theme!
    Here’s my contribution:!

  • bloviatrix

    Hi Joe,
    I went with a fortified wine as Tim Elliott’s WBW email said that was acceptable :-).
    Your Iron Man vs. Madeira table is so cool!

  • Lenn Thompson

    Wine Crusher: Great post, great theme and thanks for hosting.

    Here’s my humble (and you know that’s not easy for me) contribution:

    I liked it a lot more than I expected to. No Iron Man comparisons from me!

  • monkey dish

    Here’s my post–I was so excited about this one I put it up early–or else I just can’t follow directions

  • tish

    Truly awesome, Dude. Love the humor AND the truth in the Iron Man vs. Madeira chart. If the gloosy mags had any sense, they’d be banging on your door to write for them.

  • Joe Roberts, CSW

    Wow – high praise, tish, and thanks for that! Not sure that Wine Enthusiast or Wine & Spirits would fully appreciate the IRON MAN comparison, though… ;-)

  • Remy

    Now, maybe if Iron Man drank a lot of madeira, maybe e’d be more competitive…

    Anyhow, here’s my two cents (and 500 ml).

    Thanks a lot for the theme. Any reminder to drink madeira more ofta is welcome.

  • Vinogirl

    Great post!

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