“Off the Beaten Track” Part 2, By Nick Adams

Other Famous Fortified Wines – Part 2

The Iberian range and tradition of fortified wine extends to another classic – Madeira.

Madeira is made on the volcanic (soil) island off the coast of Africa. The styles are built around 5 main grapes varieties – Tinta Negra (which is the most widely planted and makes very good entry level wines) and then the four “noble” grapes: Sercial (making the driest style, but still with some residual sugar), then – in increasing levels of sweetness – Verdelho, Bual and Malvasia (aka Malmsey). Each of these fortified styles goes through a unique treatment process where the wines are gently heated (either though a hot water pipe system – estufagem – or aged in cask in hot lofts or directly in the sun – canteiro). This creates the most amazing and tangy caramelised, burnt sugar notes which blend perfectly with the citrusy and peel fruit flavours of the different grapes.

Try the Henriques & Henriques Malvasia – nicely sweet and really tangy – alternative to port for cheese and superb with any cakes and especially a ground almond based orange tort.

Store in the fridge and can drink over many weeks.

Other famous fortified – mainly Muscats (ie from the Muscat grape)

The other European country to make stand out fortified wines is France – especially in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Southern Rhône regions. And quite often the lead grape is Muscat. Famous examples include Rivesaltes (Roussillon) and Beaumes de Venise (Rhône). These wines are made like port in that the fermentation is stopped by the addition of high strength brandy to preserve unfermented natural grape sugars and make a sweet wine. Not as alcoholic though as port and not cask aged either this is all about bottling and trapping the exuberant and full throttle fruity aromas and flavours – exotic and quite tropical with notes of lychee and rosewater.

Wine Trust have a superb selection of these styles Muscats on the list – try either of these with confidence – The Andrew Quady really does have an orange twist to it

Serve chilled, these wines are exuberantly fruity and aromatic and are in no way heavy. They work brilliantly with a simple bowl of summer Strawberries and cream for example. Will keep for a week in the fridge under vacuvin

The other world class Muscat is found in Australia in the Victorian town and region of Rutherglen. Here the wines are made initially like the French examples but then go through a long and measured oxidative aging and blending programme in old oak casks. This produces a much darker and richer style (and sweeter, partly due the level of water evaporation from the casks over time). These really are the richest and most exotic examples of Muscat in the world – no wonder they are referred to as “Liqueur” Muscat in the region.

Chambers are Liqueur Muscat specialists – owned and family run for now for over 160 years – there are simply one of the best

Serve very well chilled with white and hard cheese and any caramel, nut, or chocolate dessert. Will keep in the fridge for weeks.

Returning to France a final twist in the tale is that in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Southern Rhône regions they also produce red fortified wines – this time from the Grenache grape. Not as alcoholic as port they are made in the same (arrested ferment) way but are then these days usually bottled quite early, with no oak and are ready for immediate drinking. One of the best from southern France is from the Banyuls region on the Spanish border. These are a lovely style with luxuriant compote red fruit flavours and hint of liquorice spice.

Wine Trust have a cracker which works well with anything chocolate and a substitute for port with cheese.

Again, serve chilled and will last in the fridge for well over a week

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