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Surge in popularity for Madeira

Old and rare bottles of Madeira are proving to be popular with younger consumers as the drink sees a jump in sales, according to retailers.

Waitrose reports that sales of Madeira have risen by 20% over the last year and the supermarket now stocks 17 different brands compared to five just two years ago.

The news came as Waitrose announced the introduction of a 100 year old Sercial, the d’Oliveiras 1910 with an RRP of £250. Only 24 bottles will be available at the supermarket’s Canary Wharf branch in London, where it is expected to do well.

Other rare bottles on sale include Blandy’s 1940 (RRP £180), and a 1968 d’Oliveiras Boal (RRP £65), both of which will sit alongside Blandy’s Duke of Clarence for £11.99.

Nick Room, wine buyer for Waitrose, said: “The beauty of Madeira is that it does not spoil once the bottle is opened which makes perfect sense if you like the occasional tipple – there’s no pressure to finish off the bottle.

“Our customers love to cook and entertain at home and Madeira seems to be the drink they’re turning to. They tell us they are serving the sweeter varieties over ice instead of the old fashioned ambient aperitif straight from the cupboard.”

Room suggested that the popularity of the islands as a tourist destination coupled with cheap flights and recommendations from the likes of Delia Smith in her recipes was also helping drive sales among younger people.

However, the popularity of the fortified wine extends beyond the supermarkets, Bonhams recently sold several lots of old Madeira at auction including six bottles of Boal 1827, with the single bottles selling for over £700 each and two bottle lots for up to £1,265.

Similarly, two bottles of Malmsey 1830 reached £1,495 and single bottles £690 and £782 each.

Rupert Millar, 24.05.2010

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