Coffee-colored and cloudy, with a greenish rim, this has singed rubber and coffee aromas, with chocolate and molasses flavors accented by a lime note. Complex, rich and aggressive, with tangy balancing acidity, finishing on a bitter chocolate note.
Cossart Gordon & Co. was the first Madeira exporter, having been founded in 1745 by the brothers Francis and Thomas Newton, of Scotland. The brothers were later joined by other Scottish entrepreneurs and the firm focused on shipping Madeira to North America, where it became extremely popular. In the early 19th century the Irish businessman William Cossart joined the firm and within a few decades the company was also exporting Port, Sherry and other wines. By the mid-20th century the company decided to trade only in Madeira, and Cossart Gordon joined in a business alliance with other Madeira exporters. Today the company is part of the Madeira Wine Company, which is controlled by the Symington family, which also controls numerous Port producers. Like all true Madeiras, Cossart Gordon Madeiras come from the Portuguese island of Madeira, which is some 500 miles southwest of Lisbon. The island receives Portugal’s most distinguished rating for quality, the Denominacao de Origem Controlada.
Madeira is an island in the Atlantic Ocean 530 miles southwest of Lisbon and 360 miles west of Morocco. Since the 16th century Madeira has also been the name of the island’s most famous product, a fortified wine known for its aging potential. The island is a part of Portugal and has earned Portugal’s highest wine quality ranking, the DOC. Unlike Port and Sherry, two other popular fortified wines, Madeira actually improves with heat and oxidation, one reason why it became popular in the 17th and 18th centuries with Dutch and English shippers on route to India and other Asian ports. By the 18th century Madeira was the most fashionable wine in North America, and the American colonies were buying about a quarter of Madeira’s total annual production. The island of Madeira has a warm maritime climate, but it is challenging to grow grapes on the island’s steep terrain. The red-skinned Tinta Negra Mole grape, is commonly planted as are Malvasia (Malmsey), Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Terrantez. Madeira is produced in various levels of sweetness and European Union rules since 1986 require that labels specify the age of the wines. To be labelled as a vintage Madeira, the wine must come from a single vintage, a single grape and be aged at least 20 years. The finest Madeiras can be aged for 100 years or more before bottling. In 2002, English wine writer and Madeira connoisseur Michael Broadbent wrote that if stranded on a dessert island, his beverages of choice would be a couple of Madeiras, one from 1862 and one from 1846. “Apart from the glorious, indescribable perfume and taste,” Broadbent wrote, “madeira is one wine which is able to survive the heat and which ben be dipped into at leisure.”