Blandy’s; 1826 Boal Solera

“Amber brown; bouquet like horses’ pee – fabulous!; full, rich, tangy.” April 1993 ****

In princip, I find tasting notes quite boring. A wine is so much more than a stereotype note telling you how it smells and tastes. But then there is the impressions of the world’s most renowned Madeira expert, Mr. Michael Broadbent. Everyone calling themselves a winelover should have a copy of his collected notes over the years – Vintage Wine. Relaxed writing, yet filled with humour and insight. Simply put, the closest you will come to actually finding tasting notes funny to read.

Mr. Broadbent has of course tasted the 1826 Boal Solera from Blandy’s. A Solera that started its life in the comet year of 1826. I’m lucky enough to have come across a bottle of the wine;  in perfect condition. What’s even more exciting is the fact that we’re a bunch of people sharing it, a memory for life hopefully. Great wines are always those you enjoyed with others. Bottles you can discuss and cherish together for years. The 1826 is popped three days before being poured. I’m serving a sample to my wife who’s ecstatic. If it’s one thing we completely share in the vinous part of our lives, it is the love for a great Madeira. Yes, I know, I’m a lucky man….

I’m a big fan of the Solera wines of Madeira. They often possess an elegance which a Vintage wine rarely reaches. Sure, they are not as concentrated or intense but since when is those parameters equivalent with a great wine? Complexity and elegance through the art of blending; an underrated Madeira. The old soleras really were old having in mind they became a reality due to Madeira being hit first by Oidium and then by the Phylloxera louse.  The misery started in 1852 and since huge parts of the harvests in the 1850’s were lost, the shippers started buying up older stocks which were blended to have something to offer their clients. Hence many of the soleras started then, went back to pre-1852 years. And oh yes, Blandy’s were probably the producer buying up most old stocks back then, a decision which probably saved them from disappearing from the scene in the following tougher decades.

The 1826 Boal Solera brings history to the glass. What strikes me the most when sniffing the wine, is the discrete background scent of brandy. It’s been a while now, since that was the practice when fortifying a Madeira. It goes very well with the elgance of the wine though. The nose is ethereal and filled with smoke, dried fruits, red apples and nutmeg. Some Oolong tea. The complexity is amazing and I feel stupid for writing down impressions.

Beautiful balance and delineation on the palate. Not a power package but an elegant, lingering taste filled with complex notes of nuts, smoke, dust, moist pipe tobacco and orange peel. Then that odd red apple note again. Long, mineral driven finale with acidity structure following you all the way. A beauty and a true pleasure to drink.

Old log-book at Blandy’s. 30th of June 1824.

1826. The year Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and a wine passionate, passed away. I just lost perspective.

But the horses’ pee? No, not in my glass.

The MAM Opinion:



Bought at Garrafeira Nacional in Lisboa. 499 euros.

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