The solera system is quite rare when it comes to Madeira. Soleras work like this: a tenth of the contents of one cask are removed and replaced with the same amount of younger wine. Repeat this 10 times, and the entire contents of the cask are new. The solera is then closed, and the resulting blend is bottled. In the case of this outstanding 1845 Bual from the great Madeira shipper Cossart Gordon, only a portion of the wine actually comes from the year 1845, as this year indicates the starting date of the solera. Though not quite 150 years old, this wine is nonetheless a sip of history, and shows insane amounts of depth and complexity with each taste.Madeira is a group of islands off the coast of Africa, and has long been known for wine production. Back in the colonial days, it became a favorite of our founding fathers. During shipment, however, the wine was exposed to excessive heat and movement-the things that usually will destroy wine. But it instead gave the wine a unique flavor much favored by the colonists, and created a wine basically unaffected by further temperature extremes. Since then, the heating process, which lasts at least 3 months, has been an integral part of the making of Madeira wines. It also results in the wine being extremely long-lived, even after opening. A note from the donor:The wine being auctioned was one of two identical bottles purchased when my husband and I were married in 1994. We opened the first at our 10-year anniversary in 2004, and enjoyed it over the course of several months. We planned to open the second bottle for our 20th anniversary, but his sudden death just a few days after that date meant a change of plans. It is my hope that this can be enjoyed by others, and you'll perhaps raise a glass to him.