Revive an old custom this July 4th and toast our stars and stripes with Madeira!
While the wine is named after the Portuguese-held island some 500 miles off the coast of Morocco, celebrating Madeira in America is a long-held tradition. Few people today associate Madeira with Colonial America when, in fact, it was a household beverage during the latter half of the 18th Century. The East Coast is mostly hot and humid and much of it has high water tables which precluded any form of cellaring table wines. Madeira is virtually indestructible; so it became the wine of choice and maintained its popularity right up to the Great Experiment – Prohibition.
When the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th 1776, members of our first Congress consumed some 50 bottles of Madeira. What a celebration that must have been! Other great occasions calling for Madeira included George Washington’s marriage to Martha, Washington’s inauguration in 1789, and the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Madeira came to America by way of European ships that would make regular stops at the island of Madeira to “freshen” with the island’s abundance of fresh water and take on its wine as ballast. Vintners of Madeira knew their wines would not survive an Atlantic journey without a little help so they added brandy as a preservative. What they didn’t know was the heat from traveling the equator would oxidize alcohols into aldehydes, which added a marvelous nutty character to the wine. After this discovery, intentional heating of the wine was done in estufas (heated vessels) and it continues today. Vintners also adopted the Spanish solera system in which young wines go into barrels and matriculate by constant blending to the bottling barrels over many decades and even centuries. The younger wines freshen the older vintages while the older wines impart their wisdom to the newer arrivals.
V. Sattui Madeira shares this historic tapestry, as Vittorio Sattui procured a number of barrels from the island and started his own solera at his winery in San Francisco in 1887. When you enjoy V. Sattui Madeira there may be a few drops of this vintage in your very glass which connects you with history. Vittorio had to hide his decades-old solera around North Beach in San Francisco during Prohibition, as surely the Feds would have destroyed it. So, this wine has its own bit of romantic history.
From fortification to heating, V. Sattui Madeira continues to be made in the time honored traditions of the island, rendering a complexity of caramel, dried plum, honey, maple, vanilla combined with hazelnuts, almonds and chocolate. All of this is re-enforced with smooth, silky, and balanced sweet sensations on the palate. This is the oldest Madeira produced in the U.S. and it’s as though the wine waited all of these years and decades to come to life on your palate.
Our Madeira is compatible with so many foods. Friendships range from pumpkin pie to tiramisu. By the way, we use the Madeira to make tiramisu in our deli. It’s wonderful with nuts like a hazelnut torte and any recipe that calls for dried fruit, vanilla, and caramel (Flan). We love it as a float with our house made Vanilla Bean Gelato. Let your dessert imagination be your pairing highway.
It’s also a good cooking wine. Try this: cook your meat of choice in a pan or grill pan and remove it. Pour in our Madeira along with an equal part of Sattui Family Red. Deglaze the pan and allow a few minutes to reduce the sauce. Plate your meat, add the sauce and enjoy. REALLY enjoy!