December 3, 2023
Food & Drink News Opinion

WINE O’CLOCK: Just right for drinking the duke’s health

According to Shakespeare, the third Duke of Clarence was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine at the behest of his brother Richard III.

It’s most likely that he was executed by more conventional means on the order of his other brother, Edward IV. But it is a good story and it has immortalised the duke, George Plantagenet, who has acquired a lesser fame by having his name used on one of a range of Madeira wines.

It is not a Malmsey – I’m not sure if any such product is produced nowadays – but it is an excellent fortified wine, as are most of those made on the little island of Madeira.

In the days of sailing ships, it was on the trade route between the Americas and the Far East. Growers added brandy to the wine to help it survive the journey.

Today grape spirit is added during fermentation which stops the process and makes the wine sweeter. The point at which the spirit is added varies, giving wines which range from dry (a perfect aperitif) to sweet dessert wines.

Blandy’s is one of the best known producers and its Duke of Clarence is on sale from most wine stores at around €16 for a half bottle. It is super sweet and will go with a hearty pudding or cheese.

You will also find several Madeiras under the Justino label. There’s a five year old (around €15). It is not so sweet as the Duke of Clarence – a nice amber-coloured wine with flavours of vanilla and raisins.

Justino’s Madeira Colheita (around €25) is deep amber in colour and up near the sweetest of the sweet.
Malvasia Ten Year Old (€24.95) is drier and not so high in alcohol, with a smooth texture and a scent of chocolate.



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