FrontRunners: A Civilized Sip
In 1807, when John Blandy arrived in Madeira, the Portuguese archipelago (though remote from the centers of European civilization) had long been producing what, in the 18th century, came to be regarded as the Western world’s most civilized wine. Exportation began on the islands in the late 15th century, when European vessels heading toward the New World regularly stopped there for provisions before crossing the Atlantic. Like port, the wines were fortified to prevent spoilage, and in the Americas, the refinement of a household was often judged by the quality of the Madeira it served. Blandy, recognizing opportunity, entered the wine trade, and the firm he established in 1811 has remained among the most respected since. Blandy’s 1969 Vintage Bual ($230, www.blandys.com), only 154 bottles of which are available in the United States, offers modern palates the opportunity to savor profound vanilla and almond scents and flavors of candied lemon and Darjeeling tea.