Blandy, a Dynasty Connected to Madeira wine
Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira
Blandy’s story starts with the arrival of John Blandy to Madeira. Two centuries of a traders’ dynasty whose important connection to the Madeira wine began in 1811 with wine exportation when the company got established. He bought the estate where today lies the old winery in Funchal – Blandy Wine Lodges. After the exportations’ decline due to the devastating plagues, first the Oidium Tuckeri in 1851 and then the Phylloxera in 1872, from the association of several wine exportation companies, in 1913, the Madeira Wine Association is born with the purpose of relieving the business’ associated costs. It was around then that a lot of those companies weren’t able to resist the less favorable times and ended up closing and selling their stocks to Blandy’s. In 1925 Blandy’s joined M.W.A. which in 1986 changes the name to Madeira Wine Company SA.
A remarkable story of a family that has played a significant role in the development of Madeira wine whereas at the same time expanding its activity to various other sectors such as banking, insurance, ship repairing… Two hundred years later Blandy’s remains a family business where Michael and Chris are the 6th and 7th generations to work in the business.
If in a previous article I stated that Henriques & Henriques were the first great Madeira wines that I had the chance to taste, Blandy’s were certainly those which through the years settled my liking and enthusiasm for Madeira wine as oenophile. Visiting Blandy’s was one of those special moments. Really, just being sat there in that amazing tasting room is worth a Madeira trip. The tasting was in charge of one of the greatest worldwide oenologists, Francisco Albuquerque. It was a privilege to be able to have there a great lesson about Madeira wine with an included tasting.
It’s still interesting that Madeira wine is a wine that nourishes over time, needs time to grow, not months or days but years, and the more the merrier, meaning more complexity and magicalness. Obviously, the focus goes to some of the tasted Vintage/Frasqueira:
Blandy’s Malmsey 1988
One of the great wines I had the chance to taste was the Malmsey 1988. This wine spent about 25 years in casks before the releasing of 1600 bottles to the market, in 2013. Stands out for the set’s freshness and exquisiteness as well as the precision and incredible detail which present well-defined aromas. Huge complexity and balance, candied orange from the get-go, fig, dates, tobacco, lots of spice, flowers with dry fruit in the background, the wine unfolds in layers. Conquers the palate with class, curry hints followed by raisins, fig raisins we can almost bite harmonizing perfectly with the nose. Great balance between acidity/fruit/sweetness.
Blandy’s Terrantez 1976
Again and as usual, what stands out here is the fantastic elegance of the whole set, this piece of work as precise as watchmaking is the brand’s calling card. In this case it’s a Terrantez 1976 showing itself quite more elegant than the Terrantez 1977 when were tasted side by side. This wine’s complexity is astounding, all very delicate yet deep and complex, with curry hints in a chocolate and orange scrapes set, dates, slightly balsamic, toasted caramel, nuts, all wrapped up in a great acidity which joins an aroma of polished old furniture. In the mouth it’s a polite monster, slightly sweet on the way in, and then breathtaking with a freshness which invades the whole palate. Renews the nose’s sensations, has that bittersweet touch which tills the tongue until the very end, harmonizing perfectly with the fruit and acidity.
Blandy’s Verdelho 1973
The following wine is a perfect exemple that the Madeira wine needs and demands time. A Verdelho 1973 which is only now being released to the market. Another great wine of this house, initially restrained but a lot of complexity, unfolding in thin layers, cigar, passion fruit, freshness and liveliness in a set with plenty of harmony. The liveliness of the aromas stands out. The set impresses with the dryness in the palate along with a mix of a very slight unctuosity/sweetness which gives it a whole new dimension and puts this Verdelho in this house’s hall of fame.
Blandy’s Bual 1920
It’s a stunning wine at all levels, it’s complicated for me to describe such enclosed emotion in a bottle every time I have in front of me, be it in the glass or the bottle. We’re talking about the mother of championships, this Bual 1920 has the rare ability to simply shut us up. We can be chatting but when it’s this 1920’s turn, people stay quiet, stare, smell the glass… stop, re-spin and smell the glass again, and with a smile start to ramble. The bouquet is some kind of amazing, concentrated, fresh, sinful, and again of a huge elegance. Starts with hint of lacquer, opens and then gives joy. Toffee, nuts, box of cigars, aromas wrapped in a fresh and slightly unctuous cape filled with dates, figs and candied fruit. All of this transpires to the palate which comes in at full steam, unctuous, lickerish to then show itself with great elegance, freshness and a very long and persistent finish. Unforgettable.
Blandy’s Verdelho 1887
In 2011 it was identified a Verdelho which was laying in demijohn of 50 liters, a Verdelho 1887 that would end up being bottled in 2013. Stands out by its tone, with those beautiful emerald green edges which indicate a respectful age. The aroma is a huge party, starts with a hint of lacquer and then calming down and awakening to its fullness. A touch of old wood along with candied fruit, English cake, fig and apple-pie in a never-ending number of aromas the wrap it in a whirlwind of emotions. Stunning mouth, large, deep, tense and mysterious. Very good fruit presence regarding the nose, still clean and fresh. This is an 1887 wine that we’re talking about. Complements itself with caramel, orange peel scrapes, green coffee beans in a mix that combines the initial slight sweet and fruity touch with the dry and unctuous ending.
Blandy’s Wine Lodge
Avenida Arriaga 28,
Madeira – Portugal
Tel.: (+351) 291740 110
Fax: (+351) 291 740111