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Jan 26, 2010 05:40 AM

Purchased Madeira Wine in Funchal, Portugal.. how do I tell how old it is?

Help.. just got home from a cruise and stopped in Funchal, Portugal, the home of the famous Madeira wine. I went to a local wine store and tasted, then purchased two bottles of Madeira wine. I purchase a bottle of Barbieto Vintners Boal, which has the words "Boal, Old Reserve, 10 years old" stenciled in white paint on the front of the bottle. Seeing as its 2010 how do I know the exact age of this stuff? The label on the back is only about the Vintner, Barbieto. And the only numbers that I can find on the bottle otherwise is a paper seal that is around the neck of the bottle with a Portugal seal on it and the number 0199541. Does this mean that the wine was bottled in 1995?? Im so lost.. sorry for the dumb questions but would really like to know what I bought.. otherwise anyone could print 10 year old reserve on the bottle.. and who would know? 10 years from when?


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  1. Madeira is typically labeled according to the minimum amount of aging the wine underwent. Unless you bought a vintage wine, it's not going to be wine from one particular year.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tmso

      Yes. "Ten-Year Old Special Reserve is a wine in which the youngest component in the blend will be around ten years old, having aged in cask, usually without recourse to *estufa* [heating] tanks. These wines are mostly made from the noble grape varieties [Sercial, Verdelho, Bual or Boal in Portuguese, Malmsey] and labelled accordingly." -The Oxford Companion to Wine

      The ten years are measured when the wine is blended before bottling. The designation has nothing to do with how long the wine has spent in the bottle.

    2. They could've written 100 years old for all that matters.
      Bottom line: you like it, you like it. You don't, you don't.

      1. I wouldn't worry how old it is - I've never seen Madeira deteriorate in bottle provided it isn't corked. The production process is inherently oxidative so it won't go bad; I've had some from bottles open over a year and it still tastes like Madeira.