Old and New World Verdelho
This article is a part of Wine Blogging Wednesday "go native"1 sponsored by Dr. Vino. Verdelho, along with Sercial, Malmsey and Bual, is one of the 4 main Madeira grape varieties. As one of the dry styles of Madeira, it’s made in a way similar to sherry; in other words, we’re not going to get any primary aromas or flavors from the grapes. No, Madeira is not about fruit. Oddly enough, Verdelho has become increasingly popular as a dry varietal wine in Australia. So there we might be able to get a sense of what Verdelho is like before it’s oxidized and baked into a Maderia. One of today’s wines is the Bleasdale 2005 Langhorne Creek Verdelho, which is made by a fairly large family-run Aussie winemaker. The other wine is a real oddity. It’s the Baumard Vert de l’Or Vin de Table Sec2 made from 100% Verdelho. Yes, the same Baumard that’s famous for its Quarts-de-Chaume and Savennières. So what is one of France’s greatest winemakers doing with Verdelho in the Loire Valley? It’s not exactly a jump in prestige from Chenin Blanc but makes an unusual refreshing and delicious wine. Both are the same price here in the UK at £8.50 ($17.00US) but the similarities mainly end there. Out of the glass, they’re much different. The Bleasdale is pale straw yellow, while the Baumard is more medium deep like a Savennières. They’re also different stylistically in ways you might expect from Australian and Anjou winemakers. The Baumard greets you with a wallop of honey (come to the Honeycomb Hideout!), spices – clove, cinnamon, ginger fall leaves, etc. – and a dash of orange peel/ marmalade for good measure. It’s almost like a Savennières without the apple and a little spicier; an excellent wine. The Bleasdale is cleaner and a little less aromatic with citrus zest and melon but also a little leathery note. Could that be brett? OK, maybe it’s not cleaner but seems more pure and restrained compared to the Baumard. Both are crisply acidic, with the Bleasdale a little more so and finishing a little shorter and less intense than the Baumard. So what’s Verdelho about them both? They seem as similar as chalk and cheese! Still, there was a difficult to describe similarity that linked them together. Was it the citrus peel and high acidity or perhaps something I’m incapable of describing verbally? Instead of attempting to explain it in an interpretive dance, I turned to a bottle of 15 year old Henriques and Henriques Madeira. Tasting the Madeira Joe Friday style – just the facts, ma’am – didn’t solve the case but did yield another clue: the wonderful banana bread and walnut aromas in the Madeira seemed to have something in common with the unfortified Verdelhos. A trace of whatever flavor or group of flavors that becomes banana bread and walnuts in the Madeira process seemed to be in both the Baumard and Bleasdale. So there we have it, Verdelho is highly acidic with citrus peel and proto-banana bread/walnut characteristics. It sounds flimsy but I’m sticking to it. Interestingly enough, Verdelho – like Madeira – is definitely not about fruit. 1Verdelho is native to Madeira but not France or Australia. 2Vin de Table wines aren’t required to display a vintage year but I believe the Baumard is a 2004.
Great stuff Steve. Big bonus points coming your way. Even more if you had included a YouTube of your tasting note as interpretive dance!
Try a new world Verdelho at Raimondo Winery. www.raimondowinery.com
Made from Silverspoons Vineyard grapes
[…] Steve De Long tasted three versions of verdelho, one from the homeland of Madeira and two dry versions from France and Australia. Click through to find out which one got five stars! [De Long Wine] […]
I’m all about the points, esp. bonus points!