1953 times two

Two wines each 64 years old, and I tasted these rare, expensive wines thanks to a generous friend.

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1953 Massandra White muscat 12.9%

Massandra is a winery based in Crimea (Ukraine), with extensive stocks of old wines, capable of lasting many decades.

This wine’s colour was a light amber (but with lots of sediment), just so fresh, floral and grapey -hard to believe its so old; there is orange peel and cumquat, ginger, and a suggestion of ginger beer, plus light caramel. Apparently 240 g/l of residual sugar, but still very light on its feet. It seems indestructible, but further change is unlikely. Its youthful flavours totally belie the colour, and the palate with its sensations of icing sugar, is more straightforward than the bouquet.

Drink now, 90 points (add a few points for historic merit)

1953 Barbeito Boal Madeira

Madeira lies 1000 k southeast of Portugal, and has a tropical climate. Grape varieties used in making madeira wines (from driest to sweetest) are sercial, veredlho, bual and malvasia.

Vintage-dated Madeira must be aged at least 20 years in barrel, undergoing gradual oxidation and concentration.

A very useful link is here.

This wine is quite confronting for people unused to fortified wines, and comparisons to an old amontillado sherry are inevitable.

Dark toffee coloured, initially the wine was quite spiritous, with a range of awkward aromas- freshly grated parmesan cheese, pine nuts, green olives, almonds, coffee and then a rush of mixed dried fruits. VA is unavoidable, but here is quite tolerable, mingled with the rancio.  With some breathing, the nuttiness begins to drive through and quite overt acidity balances the residual sugar.  Matching with food would be futile, it’s a wine to savour on its own.

Drink now, 91 points (perhaps more for people with more experience with this style)

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