Madeira, The Island Vineyard

Of all the books ever written about Madeira, the most beloved is Noël Cossart’s Madeira, The Island Vineyard. Noël was the last generation of his family to manage Madeira’s most important wine producer, Cossart Gordon, from 1936 until 1953, when economic conditions forced him to sell the firm’s assets to the Madeira Wine Association.

Noël had long intended to write a book based on both his experience in the Madeira trade and his business archives dating back to the 18th century. It was his old friend from Christie’s, Michael Broadbent, who finally convinced him to write that book, and so Madeira, The Island Vineyard was published by Christie’s Wine Publications, with dual launching parties in London and Savannah, Georgia, on October 23, 1984.

Noël’s book was enthusiastically received, yet it had only one printing and soon vanished from the market. By the time the world reawakened to Madeira’s magic in the 2000s, his book had become a sought-after collectible, with rare book dealers asking several hundred dollars a copy. But even more important, Madeira, The Island Vineyard had become the stuff of legend, as the last first-person account of how Madeira used to be.

In 2005, we had asked Noël’s widow Pat and Christie’s for permission to publish a much-needed new edition of Madeira, The Island Vineyard. The new edition was published in 2011.

This richly illustrated book makes Noël’s words available again, exactly as they were first published in 1984. But it also benefits from extensive new material, including the first published history of Noël’s own life; an unprecedented compilation of Madeira auction prices from the 1970s to the present, and Noël’s private correspondence with other wine scholars in the months following the book’s 1984 publication.

Features include:

The Madeira wine trade: 300 years of history
Madeira in America
Recollections of the Madeira shippers, 1700s-1900s
Noël Cossart, A Life in Wine (new to the 2nd ed.)
Vintage and solera Madeiras
Important Madeira collections
Important Madeira auctions (new to the 2nd ed.)
Famous Madeira Tastings
Notes on Madeira vintages, 1863-1981
Noël Cossart’s post-publication correspondence, 1984-85 (new to the 2nd ed.)

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