Dinner at Barbara and Paul Schwarz' home
March 22, 2003

Guests: Ruth and Burt Leibert, Nancy and Ted Nygreen, Evelyne and Mike Otten

To see a photo full-size, click on the picture below. The full-size photos are quite large: 2448x1632 pixels, each averaging 800KB in size.

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Elegant dinner
20030322 Schwarz 009 Burt+Ruth Leibert.jpg (888291 bytes) Burt, Ruth and Evelyne
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Paul decanting the 1845 Solera
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This is the bottle
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Mike admiring the Bual
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Serious conversation
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Happiness ending the evening
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Saying goodnight
1845 Centenary Solera Bual

Clear, dark brown colour with a golden green nuance, slow teardrop and evenly balanced. Characteristic, very fragrant and complex bouquet with torrefaction flavours, resins and spices. Medium Rich, very smooth, mellow, bodied with a long aftertaste with notes of wood and resin.

92 Points: "Coffee-colored and cloudy, with a greenish rim, this has singed rubber and coffee aromas, with chocolate and molasses flavors accented by a lime note. Complex, rich and aggressive, with tangy balancing acidity, finishing on a butter and chocolate note." - Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator, Sept. 30, 2002

Madeira has very specific rules for the Solera system. With Madeira, producers are limited as to how often the solera can be replenished and how much wine can be added each time casks are topped up. Furthermore, one can only add wines of equivalent quality and style, therefore, apart from coming from the same grape variety, the wine added cannot be too young as that would be of a different style. Although the wines added can be introduced at any time during the maturation, after about forty years in cask, the wine is transferred from Brazilian oak barrels to large glass demijohns. The wines are then matured in glass until ready for shipping, when they are transferred to modern 750 ml. bottles.

The presumption is that wines added to soleras are younger than the original vintage, however, according to Michael Broadbents’s Great Vintage Wine Book, the mother solera for the 1845 was actually from the 1844 vintage. Oidium (a mildew) killed all the vines in the 1850's and phylloxera destroyed all the vines in the 1860's, so there was not much wine available to add to soleras between 1845 and 1885.

Finally, it is interesting to reflect on the history of the 1845 vintage. This wine was made the year that the potato famine in Ireland started, at that time Polk was the President. This wine was made 20 years before Lincoln was assassinated and 100 years before the end of the second world war.