Blandy’s has a hugely complex weave, with a notably nutty nose bolstered by leather, savoury concentration and a touch of rancio fruit. The mouthfeel is wonderful, with deep flavours of cinnamon, beeswax, a saline touch and a bright lime twist, then coffee and walnut notes lingering to the finish. So much going on here – and it perpetually redefines itself (21%).
£235 Berry Bros & Rudd, Turville Valley Wines, Corney & Barrow, Vintage Marque

A DISTINGUISHED LINE-UP of fortified wines made the taste-off for this International Trophy, spearheaded by Portugal (five of the 10 wines) and by wines from the 1970s (four out of the seven vintage wines here).

This archetypal example from Blandy’s was a hugely popular choice among the panel, with one judge describing it enthusiastically as ‘the grandest wine on the table’. Another even moved to wave his arms in the air, chanting ‘Madeira!’

Blandys benchmark fortifieds have made a big impression at the DWWA over the years, taking four Regional Trophies and, last year, its first International Trophy, making this victory the second in a row.

Last year’s accolade was for a 1988 Malmsey, while this year it’s a venerable Verdelho that takes the prize. Winery CEO Chris Blandy’s believes that, as with all older Madeiras, the maturation process very much defines the final style of the wine. In this case, over its 41 years of ageing, this wine passed down from the warmer top floor of Blandy’s 19th-century lodges in Funchal to the cooler first floor.

Blandy’s was founded by John Blandy in 1811, and the winery continues to age wine from as far back as 1920, perfecting the balance between the wine’s natural acidity and residual sugar levels.

Chris Blandy

Chris Blandy

Tasted against

All Saints, Rare Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia NV • Bacalhôa, Moscatel Roxo Superior, Setúbal, Portugal 2002 • Barros, Colheita Port, Portugal 1974 • Bodegas Robles, Selección de Robles Oro, Montilla-Moriles, Spain • C Da Silva, Dalva Golden White Port, Portugal 1971 • Domaine de la Pigeade, Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Rhône, France 2014 • Gérard Bertrand, Legend Vintage, Rivesaltes, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 1974 • Hidalgo, Triana 30 Year Old Pedro Ximénez, Sherry, Spain • Quinta do Crasto, Late Bottled Vintage Port, Portugal 2010.

Blandy's - Lodge Exterior View

The 19th-century lodge in Funchal where wines are aged over many years