September 18, 2008

What Would Jean Lafitte Drink? [Roots 6]

Tomorrow, September 19, is "National Talk Like A Pirate Day". Really, it is. I wouldn't joke about something like this.

So, to commemorate one of the truly stupid holidays of all time, we thought we'd dip into the cellar for a Madeira. What else would a pirate like Jean Lafitte be drinking? Okay, yo ho for Rum, but distilled spirits are beyond the scope of our current research grant. And Madeiras are more interesting anyway.

As the Roots thought-experiments are about drinking our way back through time, we considered buying an ancient Madeira from an antique vintage. But these are terribly expensive. (By the way, if you're new to the Lab and don't know what I'm talking about, you can find the start of the Roots series here or check the Lab Index for some context.)

Given budgetary realities, we thought we'd instead delve into the Rare Wine Company's Historic Madeiras (which aren't exactly cheap themselves). Moving from sweet to dry, the series offers a New York Malmsey, a Boston Bual, a Charleston Sercial and a harder to find New Orleans Madeira based on the nearly extinct Terrantez grape. The effort is a bit of a thought experiment itself. According to the company's website, rather than blend for uniformity they set out to make, "Madeiras that reflect the style and complexity of the great vintage wines."

Not sure exactly how you do that. But this experiment in antique Madeira works for me. For Pirate Day at the Lab, we opened a bottle of the Boston Bual. It is dense in four directions, with beautiful, almost delicate, complexity.

Dark amber color, like burnt sugar. Complex nose of coffee, caramel, raisin, apple, sherry, anisette, vanilla, cedar, honey, clove, and etc. Rich and luxurious on the palate. Ripe apple, burnt sugar, espresso, mineral water, and a tart, unexpected acidity. The finish is like petrified toffee. Stoney, rich and sweet.

If this is what they served on pirate ships, I'd never get off the boat.

Memo to Lab Staff:

Talk Like a Pirate Day is NOT a Lab Holiday. Unless you say, "Arrgh," one more time. Then you can have a lot of days off. Starting immediately, me hearty.

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