Item Number: 813
Type: Wine - Fortified
Bottle Size: 750ml Pack: 1
For many Madeira lovers, Buals offer the best combination of richness and elegance. The sweetness of the wine (up to 3.5% residual sugar) is balanced by the tang of acidity; the texture, after suitable maturing, is silky and elegant; in a fine example, the finish is relatively dry and refreshing. The Bual vines, grown up to a quarter-mile elevation, are not very prolific and only small amounts of this classic grape variety are produced.
Over the past two decades, Cossart-Gordon's 1908 Bual has been prized by Madeira lovers as one of few remaining great old wines you can still buy, albeit at a price: it currently sells on the island, in the Madeira Wine Company wine shop, for well over $1000 a bottle. Though very expensive, it stands as a profound reminder not only of Cossart-Gordon's legacy but just how precious these old wines are. Cossart was, after all, once the greatest of all the Madeira shippers, famed for its ancient vintages. Today, there is only the 1908 Bual to remind us of what once was. But this marvelous old Bual was not actually produced by Cossart-Gordon; it had been made by the D'Oliveira family, who in 1984 sold a few hundred liters to the Madeira Wine Association (MWA), the amalgamation of shippers of which Cossart-Gordon had then been a part for three decades.
In the meantime, the D'Oliveira family has drawn on its remaining stock to bottle and offer the wine under its own label. And for most of this time, we have been savoring it and selling a few cases a year to our customers.
The Centenary: Clearly, the 1908 Bual has entered a new period in its life, achieving even greater opulence and power than it had ever shown in the past. Bottles recently shipped from D'Oliveira have benefited from more than 95 years in cask, the evaporation further concentrating its flavor and richness. In its 100th year, the 1908 Bual had become one of the greatest Madeiras in existence. The centenary is of course fueling additional demand for this wine, and so we've grabbed what we could, all shipped directly from D'Oliveira.
Tasting Notes: Lemon peel, toffee, caramel and almonds.
Food Pairing: The Perfect Cheese Platter
About Madeira: The small, steep volcanic island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal was historically an
important port of call for ships en route to Africa, Asia, and South America, and, in turn, became
an important port of call for sailors to stock up on booze. By the end of the 16th century, the
Madeiran wine industry had become an international phenomenon. The wines were originally
fortified to help them last through their long sea journeys, but drinkers soon developed a taste
for the maturation that the heat and the rolling of the ship provided. The wine became so
popular in the North American colonies that it was used to toast the signing of the Declaration of
The major grapes in Madeira are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, and Malvasia, each vinified to a
unique style and level of sweetness. Long ship journeys are no longer used for aging, but
rather, the estufa method is often employed, in which hot water circulates through a coil in
the middle of a steel tank, heating the wine for 90 days, or the wine is stored in a room with
steam pipes for 6 months to a year. The finest madeiras, though, are made without any heating
besides the sun and time (20 years!). Madeira is decidedly unique, and quite probably the
world’s longest living wine.