A few befuddled wine writers, trying to untangle the mystery of why more drinkers don't demand Madeira, have posited the fortified wine's been done in by a storied past. They wonder if tales of Benjamin Franklin knocking back bottles while negotiating the purchase of cannons to fend off Redcoats have left Madeira looking dated and irrelevant.
But smart drinkers don't begrudge Madeira's heritage - the Rare Wine Co., the California outlet that's largely responsible for the wine's American resurgence, celebrates it with its esteemed "historic series." The latest addition to the line-up has just reached Dallas, and it's terrific.
Each of the wines in the series is named for a leading Colonial city, and it's tempting to ascribe their various characteristics to the personalities of their namesakes. The New York Malmsey's powerful, the Charleston Sercial's genteel, and the newly-released New Orleans Special Reserve is a bit boisterous.
The Rare Wine Co.'s released the New Orleans cuvee only once before, in conjunction with a 2007 Katrina benefit. The wine's made from the Terrantez grape, which just about secures its specialness. But its quality cinches it: Supremely dry, the woodsy wine has notes of gingerbread and orange peel. Probably would have incited Franklin to set off a cannon.
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New Orleans Special Reserve is available at Sigel's stores.