Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Rich Brown
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2802
Joined: January 5th, 2015, 3:38 pm
Location: Phoenix

Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#1 Post by Rich Brown » June 10th, 2019, 10:21 pm

Hoping to lean on the cumulative knowledge of the board here. I recently scored some great deals on few bottles of older 19th Century Madeira.....but the only downside is that it's from a private seller who lives out of the country, and does not know anything about wine/proper shipping/etc (believe the bottles were acquired through a family member). I tried to see if she would hold the wines until later this year when it's safe to ship to AZ, but unfortunately that was not an option in this case. Since I'm a huge fan of old Madeira and the prices were definitely right, I decided to roll the dice and move forward with the transaction.

I'm out of the country but my wine storage facility informed me a couple of the bottles arrived, and as expected, they came in warm (upper 80 degrees). I know with Madeira being fortified it's way better suited to handle more extreme conditions (hence the popularity on overseas missions back in the day).....but my question to the group is whether this type of heat exposure may damage the wine now that its over 100 years old. My gut says it should probably be fine....but would love to hear others thoughts on this one. I'm flying back to the states today so I'll be slower to respond, but thank you in advance for the feedback!

User avatar
GregT
Posts: 7684
Joined: April 15th, 2009, 3:12 pm

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#2 Post by GregT » June 11th, 2019, 12:58 am

Do you know how they make Madeira?

The popularity back in the day wasn't because it was fortified, it's because after they carried it over the equator that's all the alcohol they had so they drank it anyway, even though it had been repeatedly heated and cooled. Then they decided oxidizing and heating it wasn't so bad after all.

Today they use the Canteiro method, which means they place the casks in the attic in the sun for a few years. It's heated, cooled, and heated again. The private seller who doesn't know anything about wine and proper shipping was pretty much like everyone back when they made your bottles. Refrigeration didn't exist and it's only become an obsession with wine people over the past few decades.

Your Madeira will be fine. I've left sherry out on the counter for months and it's OK and the Madeira, if anything is even more resilient as anything bad that can happen to it already has.

Sounds like you got some nice stuff! [cheers.gif]
G . T a t a r

[i]"the incorrect overuse of apostrophes is staggering these days. I wonder if half the adults these days have any idea what they are for." Chris Seiber, 5/14/19[/i]

User avatar
Eric Ifune
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3506
Joined: June 19th, 2009, 7:43 pm

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#3 Post by Eric Ifune » June 11th, 2019, 1:16 am

Probably fine, but you want a long multiday decant before drinking. The heating occurs in cask while these were in glass. Madeira revels in air so in glass may develop some bottle stink. The long decant helps with that.

User avatar
Rich Brown
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2802
Joined: January 5th, 2015, 3:38 pm
Location: Phoenix

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#4 Post by Rich Brown » June 11th, 2019, 1:24 am

Ahhh! Gotcha, thanks guys - really appreciate the feedback/education/assurance! Nice to know these bottles should be fine, and I'll look forward to hopefully opening one sooner than later (and will of course post notes).

User avatar
J a y H a c k
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 12608
Joined: May 29th, 2009, 9:59 am

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#5 Post by J a y H a c k » June 11th, 2019, 4:37 am

Agreed, with one addition. DO NOT lay it down. Store upright. The high acid eats at the cork. Or so the guys from Barbeito advised me when they were here.
Yes, that's a DM of 1978 Mouton!

You can read my Financial Institutions Law Blog at https://www.gdblaw.com/blog?practiceID=4985.

User avatar
Alan Eden
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3125
Joined: February 9th, 2014, 12:49 pm

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#6 Post by Alan Eden » June 11th, 2019, 5:18 am

J a y H a c k wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 4:37 am
Agreed, with one addition. DO NOT lay it down. Store upright. The high acid eats at the cork. Or so the guys from Barbeito advised me when they were here.
So what stops the cork drying out in a 100 year old bottle ?
There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don't

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16493
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#7 Post by John Morris » June 11th, 2019, 6:33 am

GregT wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 12:58 am
... anything bad that can happen to it already has.
That sums it up!
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 766
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#8 Post by Otto Forsberg » June 11th, 2019, 6:42 am

I've had a vintage Madeira that has showed some signs of further oxidation. The first time I had the wine, it was richer, more nuanced and showing more flavors of caramel and fruitcake, while the second time I had the same wine some 5 years later it showed drier flavors of hay, chopped nuts and smoke. The first one was straight from Blandy's cellars, while the other one had been kept in room temperature for many years.

So while Madeira is pretty much a "ruined wine" to begin with, I think that inappropriate temperatures and other poor aging conditions can impact a Madeira negatively. However, I've never tasted a vintage Madeira that still wasn't simply terrific, so while a well-kept Madeira can be nothing short of phenomenal, I don't think poor cellaring can really "ruin" a Madeira - only make it perform less optimally compared to a well-kept one.

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16493
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#9 Post by John Morris » June 11th, 2019, 7:01 am

Otto Forsberg wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 6:42 am
I've had a vintage Madeira that has showed some signs of further oxidation. The first time I had the wine, it was richer, more nuanced and showing more flavors of caramel and fruitcake, while the second time I had the same wine some 5 years later it showed drier flavors of hay, chopped nuts and smoke. The first one was straight from Blandy's cellars, while the other one had been kept in room temperature for many years.

So while Madeira is pretty much a "ruined wine" to begin with, I think that inappropriate temperatures and other poor aging conditions can impact a Madeira negatively. However, I've never tasted a vintage Madeira that still wasn't simply terrific, so while a well-kept Madeira can be nothing short of phenomenal, I don't think poor cellaring can really "ruin" a Madeira - only make it perform less optimally compared to a well-kept one.
Isn't it also possible that they were bottled from different barrels at different times even if they were the same vintage?
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
Otto Forsberg
Posts: 766
Joined: December 28th, 2017, 4:26 am
Location: Finland

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#10 Post by Otto Forsberg » June 11th, 2019, 7:12 am

John Morris wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 7:01 am
Otto Forsberg wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 6:42 am
I've had a vintage Madeira that has showed some signs of further oxidation. The first time I had the wine, it was richer, more nuanced and showing more flavors of caramel and fruitcake, while the second time I had the same wine some 5 years later it showed drier flavors of hay, chopped nuts and smoke. The first one was straight from Blandy's cellars, while the other one had been kept in room temperature for many years.

So while Madeira is pretty much a "ruined wine" to begin with, I think that inappropriate temperatures and other poor aging conditions can impact a Madeira negatively. However, I've never tasted a vintage Madeira that still wasn't simply terrific, so while a well-kept Madeira can be nothing short of phenomenal, I don't think poor cellaring can really "ruin" a Madeira - only make it perform less optimally compared to a well-kept one.
Isn't it also possible that they were bottled from different barrels at different times even if they were the same vintage?
No. They were both from the same importer - the first one was in a Blandy's tasting arranged by the said importer, the second one was purchased from the importer immediately after and kept in a personal collection.

User avatar
Rich Brown
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2802
Joined: January 5th, 2015, 3:38 pm
Location: Phoenix

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#11 Post by Rich Brown » June 11th, 2019, 12:29 pm

Thanks all - really appreciate it! And Jay, I've heard the same about keeping madeira upright so will definitely do so with these bottles as well.

User avatar
GregT
Posts: 7684
Joined: April 15th, 2009, 3:12 pm

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#12 Post by GregT » June 11th, 2019, 1:03 pm

So what stops the cork drying out in a 100 year old bottle ?
Nothing.

But there's no reason to store any bottle of wine on its side, whether Madeira or not. Storing on the side does not prevent the cork from drying out, although that's the myth that's been bandied about for years. It's just that storing on the side allows you to make a pile four feet high, whereas you can't stack the bottles when they're upright.

Some producers suggest recorking Madeira every 15-20 years because the acidity and alcohol can be tough on the cork, but if you find a 100 year old bottle, the chances of that having been done are pretty much nil.

Juan Teixeira, wine maker for Justino's adds that the wine doesn't require nearly as much care in the cellar as other wines because of the time it's spent aging in cask and its evolution by oxidation. An opened bottle of Madeira will keep during months or even years without suffering any negative effects, so a dried out cork isn't going to be much of a problem.

Other producers have said that since Madeira is not a wine that evolves in bottle, you don't even need to store it in the cellar. The only cork problem you really need to worry about is TCA, otherwise if your cork is bad, use one from another bottle you've recently drunk.
G . T a t a r

[i]"the incorrect overuse of apostrophes is staggering these days. I wonder if half the adults these days have any idea what they are for." Chris Seiber, 5/14/19[/i]

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2445
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#13 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 11th, 2019, 1:23 pm

Eric Ifune wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 1:16 am
Probably fine, but you want a long multiday decant before drinking. The heating occurs in cask while these were in glass. Madeira revels in air so in glass may develop some bottle stink. The long decant helps with that.
Eric is, of course, correct. Our rule of thumb is a day for every decade it's been in the bottle.

User avatar
Rich Brown
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2802
Joined: January 5th, 2015, 3:38 pm
Location: Phoenix

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#14 Post by Rich Brown » June 11th, 2019, 2:20 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 1:23 pm
Eric Ifune wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 1:16 am
Probably fine, but you want a long multiday decant before drinking. The heating occurs in cask while these were in glass. Madeira revels in air so in glass may develop some bottle stink. The long decant helps with that.
Eric is, of course, correct. Our rule of thumb is a day for every decade it's been in the bottle.
Love it Sarah - going to roll with that here at the Brown household as well :)

User avatar
Chuck Miller
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2146
Joined: June 1st, 2009, 7:58 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#15 Post by Chuck Miller » June 11th, 2019, 4:55 pm

GregT wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 1:03 pm
So what stops the cork drying out in a 100 year old bottle ?
Nothing.

But there's no reason to store any bottle of wine on its side, whether Madeira or not. Storing on the side does not prevent the cork from drying out, although that's the myth that's been bandied about for years. It's just that storing on the side allows you to make a pile four feet high, whereas you can't stack the bottles when they're upright.

Some producers suggest recorking Madeira every 15-20 years because the acidity and alcohol can be tough on the cork, but if you find a 100 year old bottle, the chances of that having been done are pretty much nil.

Juan Teixeira, wine maker for Justino's adds that the wine doesn't require nearly as much care in the cellar as other wines because of the time it's spent aging in cask and its evolution by oxidation. An opened bottle of Madeira will keep during months or even years without suffering any negative effects, so a dried out cork isn't going to be much of a problem.

Other producers have said that since Madeira is not a wine that evolves in bottle, you don't even need to store it in the cellar. The only cork problem you really need to worry about is TCA, otherwise if your cork is bad, use one from another bottle you've recently drunk.
The other thing to remember is that many are not bottled until decades or longer in glass demi-johns, often just before release. In this case, where the wine has been in the seller’s possession for a long time, the cork could probably use replacement, but then again, you aren’t really planning to age 18th century bottles for another 20-50 years, are you? I think it was Manny Berk who told me that short cheap corks were used ‘only to keep the wine from evaporating and to keep the fruit flies out’.
Chuck Miller
Seattle Wine Storage

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2445
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#16 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 11th, 2019, 5:10 pm

Rich Brown wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 2:20 pm
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 1:23 pm
Eric Ifune wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 1:16 am
Probably fine, but you want a long multiday decant before drinking. The heating occurs in cask while these were in glass. Madeira revels in air so in glass may develop some bottle stink. The long decant helps with that.
Eric is, of course, correct. Our rule of thumb is a day for every decade it's been in the bottle.
Love it Sarah - going to roll with that here at the Brown household as well :)
Perfect. Just to make sure I've been clear, it's a day for every decade IN BOTTLE. So not the vintage. You need to figure out when it went into the bottle.

User avatar
GregT
Posts: 7684
Joined: April 15th, 2009, 3:12 pm

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#17 Post by GregT » June 11th, 2019, 7:20 pm

Good point Chuck.

Sarah - I bet you just estimate some of those decades!
G . T a t a r

[i]"the incorrect overuse of apostrophes is staggering these days. I wonder if half the adults these days have any idea what they are for." Chris Seiber, 5/14/19[/i]

User avatar
B Thorne
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 167
Joined: March 18th, 2018, 8:01 pm

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#18 Post by B Thorne » June 11th, 2019, 9:19 pm

Agree with all the above sentiment.

Also jealous it sounds like you're landing some quality madeira.
B r i a n

User avatar
Rich Brown
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2802
Joined: January 5th, 2015, 3:38 pm
Location: Phoenix

Re: Will Heat Ruin Old Madeira??

#19 Post by Rich Brown » June 12th, 2019, 12:18 am

B Thorne wrote:
June 11th, 2019, 9:19 pm
Agree with all the above sentiment.

Also jealous it sounds like you're landing some quality madeira.
Ha! I hear that- damn near impossible to find old Madeira for reasonable prices anymore, which is why I figured it was worth the gamble either way with the heat/shipping.

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”