May 22, 2012

1795 Terrantez Twins?

Just like every other collector of Madeira wine I too have been watching the auction market over the last years. Besides the usual suspects sometimes you stumble across a unique bottle that provokes your attention. In 2005 a bottle of a 1795 Terrantez bottled by a South Side Madeira Association surfaced at auction in Germany. Another bottle of the same type was auctioned just a few months later in the beginning of 2006. Some other wines from the SSMA company selling at these auctions bore a JNV paper seal, however the two 1795 bottles did not. The two 1795 bottles looked authentic, the straw cover of the cork and the label suggesting a bottling before the end of the 1970ies.

And suddenly in 2010 and 2011 there were about 12-15 bottles of this wine at various auctions in Germany. According to a wine retailer with a vast knowledge about Madeira wine the story behind these bottles was, that an old lady in northern Germany (probably the widow of one of the former importers of the SSMA) was left behind with about two cases of this wine. After her death the bottles fell to a local wine merchant in northern Germany who knew little about Madeira wine and he turned the wines into money by selling them off at various auction houses. Prices ranged between 750 and 1.560 Euros plus buyers premium and lot money.

Since I own three different old bottles from the SSMA I thought that maybe I could start from there. And indeed, one bottle showed a German importer on the label. After some research I was able to contact him and asked him about the SSMA wines in general and especially about the 1795 T. The former importer does not wish to be mentioned in the whole discussion about the 1795 SSMA T being genuine or not. But he was kind enough to tell me that the former exporter on Madeira Island claimed all the vintage Madeira wines from the SSMA to be labeled just with “commercial dates”. Whatever “commercial date” is supposed to mean exactly, the former importer had the impression that these wines were very old blends indeed, probably from well before 1900, or at least early 20th century, but no vintage single grape Madeira wines. Other wines that he mentioned from the SSMA were a 1935 Boal, 1935 Quinado, 1930 Sercial, 1860 Verdelho and 1890 Malmsey. After I wrote him a letter he even mailed back, confirming the story about the “commercial dates” in writing. He sounded somewhat disappointed with Madeira wines in general and since he seems to be in his mid-80ies now, I can understand why he wanted to be left out of this. By the way: He still owned some bottles of the various SSMA wines, the 1795 T among them. However he would not want to sell any of these, even when I made some very high offers.


1795 Terrantez by the SSMA

In Mannie Berks’s revised second edition of Cossart’s “Madeira – the island vineyard” you can find two bottles of 1795 SSMA T being sold at auction in 1996 at Christie’s in London on page 222. The price range was 847-864, very roughly the same range like the other 1795 T wines being sold in that time period. So, if this wine is a fake, it sure has been around for some time and some buyers must have thought that it was genuine. On the other hand, we know that some people at auction just go for the date on the bottle, not for the wine that’s inside…

Even after two years of searching, there are still only two tasting notes about the 1795 T SSMA. The first tasting note I was able to find came after some zigzag research. A shop called Grashoff had sold some bottles of the 1795 T SSMA wine about 30 years ago. The owner recalled his “father going to Madeira island and buying wines from the Southside company, but the company soon went out of business, whether it just closed down or was bought up by some other company” he did not know. Some of the bottles later ended up at the MunichWineCompany, a Bavarian auction house and were auctioned off in 2010 and 2011. Much earlier, one of the Grashoff bottles had allready been tasted by Markus Del Monego in 1993. Mr. Del Monego is “Master of Wine” since 2003 and has been sommelier world champion in 1998, so I would very much think that he is a reliable source of information when it comes to wine. I contacted him and he wrote back: “I tasted the wine in 1993 at a dinner and it was perfect. The color was mahogany, the nose was dried fruits and chocolate, singed sugar and mild spices with some balsamic components. In the mouth this remarkable wine was very opulent, with fine sweetness, elegant acidity and a very good finale. The wine still showed surprisingly much potential for development. Next morning I tasted a little rest of 2 cl from the decanter and it was even better than last night, complex and with fine maturity.” The tasting note of Mr. Del Monego sure sounds like a high quality old Madeira wine. Also the development over night seems to be typical to me. Again, like mentioned above, the fact that the wine had been tasted in 1993 indicates that it has been around for some time.

1795 T SMA and CVM 1

1795 Terrantez twins? Left the SSMA, right the CVM wine.

The second tasting note comes from Michael Broadbent himself, “Master of Wine” and legendary wine auctioneer at Christie’s and fortunately Alan Gardner was able to find the TN - thanks Alan! Broadbent refers to this wine in his “New Great Vintage Wine Book” (1991 Christies; Knopf, New York) - although it is a summary entry: 1795 ****, generally very good. Several notes. One bottle, labelled "South Side Madeira Association Ltd Funchal", turned out to be rather a curiosity; a bit too deep in colour, a peculiar nose, a cross between lightly malted calf's-foot jelly and a rather drab raya sherry; fairly sweet, rich, quite a nice old drink. On six other occasions I have tasted...... (other different wines - not relevant). Again, the tasting note is rather old.

So I finally asked the IVM/IVBAM if there ever was a company or export brand called the SSMA. They wrote back, stating: “Regarding your request, our department responsible for the seals have been looking at our data and here is what we know: in what regards “SOUTH SIDE MADEIRA ASSOCIATION, LDA.”, the only documents we have are 2 letters, from 11th December 1985, informing the Institute that they were finishing their activity, as well as one from Companhia Vinícola da Madeira, Lda. stating that their associate “SOUTH SIDE MADEIRA ASSOCIATION, LDA.” had ceased its activity of exporter. Therefore, we believe, since we only found export data from Companhia Vinícola da Madeira, Lda., that this company owned the brand “SOUTH SIDE MADEIRA ASSOCIATION, LDA.” What we also know is that, in 1985, the wines from Companhia Vinícola da Madeira, Lda. were transferred to Vinhos Justino Henriques & Filhos, Lda., now known as Justino’s, Madeira Wines, S.A.”

So it seems that the SSMA was an exporting brand of the CVM. My theory is that it was an export brand for the German or European market, since this is where the majority of bottles have surfaced. As you can see from the pictures, the style of bottling sure is similar. Both bottlings have the same type of wicker tops. And if the SSMA T 1795 indeed comes from the CVM, it might very well be the same wine. Why should the CVM fake a special 1795 wine for one of its brands, when they already have one 1795 T in their portfolio? Of course there are other possibilities that I do not even want to think about. What, if the CVM and the SSMA 1795 T are the same wine and they are both fakes? However given the constant and numerous appearance of the CVM T at auction, one might think, that if it was an obvious fake, someone buying and tasting the wine would have rung a bell. Also when I tasted the CVM 1795 T at the NYC Transcendental Terrantez Tasting it sure tasted like a genuine old Terrantez wine, even when it was the stenciled version which is supposed to be superior to the wine from labeled bottles of the CVM 1795 T.

1795 T SMA and CVM 2

Comparison of the wicker tops: SSMA left, CVM right.

Bottom line: There is no way to proof whether the wine is genuine or not. I tried to find more information, but this is all I could come up with and the facts still remain somewhat inconclusive. However especially the last bit of information from the IVM/IVBAM makes a strong case for the SSMA 1795 Terrantez wine being genuine. And if it’s for real, then there is a high probability that the SSMA wine is the same as the 1795 T bottled under the CVM label.

A big thank you goes to all the people who helped me, shining a little more light on this 1795 mystery (in no particular order): Roy Hersh, Alan Gardner, Markus Del Monego, Batholomew Broadbent, Barbara Sofia da Silva Spinola and the IVBAM staff, Theo Morgenschweis, Oliver Schmidt and everyone else that I forgot to mention.


February 15, 2012

Change of Email Address!

Due to the shutdown of my isp, I had to change the email address for any correspondence concerning the MadeiraWineGuide!

Please note that is no longer working!

The new address for any questions or comments about Madeira wine is However - please be patient with any answers... (remove the NOSPAM and PLEASE parts)



September 26, 2010

Thank god its autumn.

Summer is finally over, autumn is here and it is Madeira drinking time again! In my opinion rather heavy wines like Madeira do not drink so well when it is hot. So even when the weather is turning to clouds, wind and rain, the really good thing is: now is the time for drinking Madeira wine (again).


So now is also the time to fill up your Madeira wine stocks if you haven’t done this already. I generally prefer the 10 year old or 5 year old blends for everyday drinking. Also Colheita wines are a very good value when it comes to special occasions. And some three year old wines are certainly worth giving them a try before using them for cooking only…


This is the first post using the newly installed Windows Live Writer technology with the Madeira Wine Guide website and I am really anxious to see how this is going to work out.

Enjoy your autumn time - cheers!



April 03, 2008

More heavenly nectars from Prowein 2008

For those of you in search for some more heavenly nectars besides Madeira wine: I was lucky enough to taste a couple of Sherries, Montillas and others at the Prowein 2008 wine-fair in Düsseldorf, Germany in march, so here are the tasting notes:


Alvaro Domecq
PX 1730 20YO

Coffee color, thick and viscous, sweet and fruity nose, sweet palate with lots of acidity, toffee and caramel, raisins as well, long toffee finish. Very good!
Aranda Cream
Dark tawny, nutty nose and sweet palate with nuts and almonds, slightly yeasty. Made from 80% Oloroso and 20% PX, well balanced.

East India Solera

The famous „hot house sherry“ from Lustau, showing a medium iodine brown, nose with dried fruits and bread, palate quite sweet with dried fruits as well, yeasty, nutty, high acidity, finish of medium length. Even though this sherry undergoes heating like the cheaper Madeira wines, the result is completely different.

Fernando de Castillo

Dark iodine color, nutty nose with chocolate, sweet palate with nuts and raisins, chocolate finish with medium length, well done for such a young PX.

Bodegas Tradicion
Pedro Ximenez 20YO

Very dark brown, almost black in color, complex nose with sweet raisins, figs, cinnamon, amazing palate with 380 gr/l sugar, but high acidity to balance it out perfectly, toffee, raisins, figs, nuts, and cinnamon again, with a long and complex finish, what a perfect dessert wine – or as a dessert on its own!

Bodegas Hidalgo
Alameda Cream

Bright tawny, nutty nose with figs, sweet palate with nuts, orange peel, lots of acidity and a long nutty finish.
Triana PX
Coffee color, raisin nose, the palate is very sweet with almonds, figs and raisins, toffee finish of medium length.

Williams & Humpert
Oloroso Reserva Especial 15YO

Medium dark iodine, sweet oxidized note, reminding me of a good Madeira wine, but the palate is all sherry of course, nutty, just a hint of sweetness, a little coffee as well and then a long nutty and slightly bitter finish, very complex and well done.

Sanchez Romate

Dark cola color, sweet nose with dried plums, coffee, raisins and caramel, the very sweet palate is dominated by figs and raisins, very complex, with a long raisin finish.


Bodegas Navarro
Medium Cream PX

Bright coffee color, sweet toffee nose, palate with lots of caramel and toffee, quite sweet with enough acidity to counterbalance the sweetness. A well done sweet wine for dessert.
Pale Cream
Pale and bright yellowish lemon color, quite misleading, nutty and yeasty nose, sweet palate with lots of acidity and surprisingly dry finish, interesting wine and very unusual.
Amontillado Muy Viejo Solera Fundacion 1830
Tawny color with very nutty nose, lots of almonds too, dry palate, very nutty, complex, almonds and a long dry and nutty finish that goes on for one minute, amazing wine.
Pedro Ximenez 5YO
Dark cola color, nose with lots of figs and raisins, sweet palate with figs, raisins and enough acidity to go along, long raisin finish. Well done.
Pedro Ximenez Solera Fundacion 1830
Dark coffee color, nutty complex nose with figs and raisins as well. The palate is very sweet, with a texture and viscosity like crude oil, very complex, lots of toffee, caramel too, dried fruits, raisins, long sweet finish with figs and raisins and just enough acidity. A dessert of its own, with stunning complexity, very sweet but... wow.
The pure grape juice of PX, slowly cooked until it becomes a thick and dark sirupy liquid, essence of grape aroma, together with caramel, no alcohol at all, perfect for dessert, with vanilla ice cream and pancakes. A great experience, and my kids liked it a lot!


Moscatel Favaios 10YO
Golden color, typical moscatel nose with raisins, very sweet moscatel palate with orange and a little lemon, enough acidity to balance the sweetness, lemon finish of medium length.

Moscatel de Setubal:

Casa Ermelinda Freitas Moscatel Superior 2000
Bronze color, nose with typical moscatel flavor and apricot as well, the palate is all apricot and typical moscatel raisin flavor, very sweet and enough acidity to go with it, long and sweet apricot finish.


October 26, 2007

Silas Weir Mitchell's "A Madeira Party" online now...

A long term project of mine has finally come to a good end:
Please find the complete text of "A Madeira Party" online now here at
The story "A Madeira Party" by Silas Weir Mitchell was first published in 1895. Since then it has been published in about 30 different versions, most often together with a second story "A little more Burgundy". The text shown here is taken from one of the earliest publications in 1895 from The Century Co., New York, printed by The De Vinne Press.
I used the original text layout and all the typos are exactly from the original (or so I hope). Anybody interested in obtaining "A Madeira Party" as a printed book is advised to get the 1975 edition of Corti Brothers, Sacramento, still available from the company. This book also contains a very interesting essay on "Our Madeira Tradition" by Roy Brady.
Some contents of "A Madeira Party" might not seem "correct" these days, but of course the story has to be seen in its historical context. I find it quite entertaining, especially since it offers an interesting glimpse back into American history. Also for the Madeira wine lover it contains lots of information about old Madeira wine drinking habbits, general knowledge about Madeira wine and some myths about Madeira wine too. And even though I feel very much at home in the 21st century, I envy these guys their full decanters of Madeira wine...
To find the complete text please click on "Silas Weir Mitchell's A Madeira Party" on the right side.
Enjoy reading!


June 07, 2007

Update: Revised Producer's Chapters Online Now!

After revising and updating the new producer's chapters are online now, together with new pictures, email-addresses and www-links. Please check them out carefully and notify me of any misspellings, corrections, suggestions.
Thank you and enjoy reading!


May 23, 2007

Help needed with your old Madeira wine bottle?

So you bought this old Madeira wine bottle from a private source and now you have your doubts about its authenticity?
Then the freshly revised and updated chapter "About Old Bottles" should be interesting to read for you.
As always any comments, corrections and suggestions are highly appreciated.


May 14, 2007

Welcome to the MadeiraWineGuide Forums!

We now have a new Madeira Wine Forum courtesy of ForTheLoveOfPort. Please check out, register for and enjoy the MadeiraWineGuide Forum and also check out Roy's introduction posting. And while you are there, check out the rest of the forums on anything related to Madeira, Port, travel to Portugal and more!

Take me to the MadeiraWineGuide Forum!


April 21, 2007

New Organization of this Website

Due to the growing number of entries, I decided to split them into the Madeira Wine Guide and a Guide to Madeira Island.
The former will be dedicated solely to Madeira wine, the latter will feature entries of general interest with a focus on information for visitors to the island of Madeira.
Over the next months many of the now empty entries in this Guide to Madeira Island will come to life, please have patience!
As always, any hints, suggestions, corrections, typos, etc. are highly appreciated!


February 05, 2007

Tasting notes are online now!

Many tasting notes are online now! I will dig out all the older tasting notes eventually and post them as time permits. Even though I have tasted a lot of the 3 YO, 5YO, 10YO and 15YO blends, right now I do not intend to post them, since this would really lead to an overflow of tasting notes. Also the colheitas and harvest wines will have to wait.
Please enjoy reading the tasting notes - feedback wellcome!


January 11, 2007

Pictures are going online

You might have noticed that some of the pictures are online now. About half of the total pictures is still missing, but we're working on it. The report on the Seattle Madeira wine tasting and the tasting notes are online now. Please mail in any typos, corrections, whatever - thanks.


January 06, 2007

All the text is online now...

...and the pictures are going to follow soon, please be patient. You are welcome to mail in all typos and corrections - thanks.


We're working on it...

...and made some progress. We re-edited the following chapters:

  • History
  • Types of wine
  • Grape varieties
  • Bibliography
  • Thanks
  • 1795 vintages
  • Producers, Shippers & Co

    Many pictures are still missing, but we are doing our best to get them in soon.

    Also we posted some new chapters:

  • Madeira wine labels
  • Tasting notes
  • Boxes and containers
  • Non-invasive diagnostics

    In these new chapters the pictures are missing too, but if things go well we will post them this weekend!

    Any comments are highly appreciated, so please feel welcome to mail in any typos and corrections - thanks!


  • June 02, 2006

    We are about half way done...

    ...with all the conversion updates. I'll try to finish them this weekend.

    Once the conversion is done we will have three new chapters for our readers. I promise some very exciting stuff for you Madeira enthusiasts!


    May 29, 2006

    Update still in progress...

    Well, it's still not done but there are many chapters online already. Please check them out and let me know of any typos and corrections - thanks!


    May 28, 2006

    Upgrade in progress...

    Dear visitors,
    As you can tell we are in the middle of revamping with a more user friendly and easier to navigate layout. By migrating to the Blogging platform Movable Type we enable such things as:
    - visitor comments and discussions
    - more frequent updates
    - better structuring

    The upgrade should be done after this long Memorial Day weekend! Let us know how we are doing by posting some feedback below!

    -Hans Reutter