March 17, 2008

News and Tasting Notes from Prowein 2008

Last Sunday (thanks to a Madeira-friend that had bought a ticket for me) I had a chance to visit one of the biggest wine fairs for professionals in the world: the 2008 Prowein in Düsseldorf, Germany. Of course my main interest was in Madeira wine, but the variety of the 3000+ exhibitors was so vast, that I also tasted a lot of other wines.
Madeira wine was represented by four companies from the island: Henriques & Henriques Vinhos, Madeira Wine Company, Vinhos Barbeito and Vinhos Justino Henriques. These companies had joined forces with the Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira IVBAM to organize a joint stand at the Prowein. The companies were also present with their own people: Humberto Jardim CEO of H&H, Ricardo Tavares commercial manager for the MWC, Sigfredo da Coasta Campos owner of VJH and Marianne Pinto of Vinhos Barbeito.
Samples were generously poured from blends, single harvest wines, colheitas and vintage Madeiras. Also some rare wines had been opened for tasting and samples of D’Oliveira wines were available as well.
It was very interesting to talk about the latest news from Madeira island, good and bad. My general impression is that Madeira wine is slowly but steadily on an upturn.
The tasting notes are somewhat short, but I tasted 80+ wines at this day and so notes had to be made fast and I will not include the 3YO, 5YO and 10YO wines.

Henriques & Henriques:
15 YO Malmsey
Medium tawny color, interesting nose with lots of caramel and toffee and a little VA to make it even more interesting, dried fruits as well. The palate is very sweet, but lots of acidity to back it up, again toffee and caramel, a variety of dried fruits, then a long and slightly bitter walnut finish. Well done.

Madeira Wine Company:
Cossart Gordon 1998 Verdelho Single Harvest
Bright tawny color, the nose is very nutty, also some toffee, no VA, the wine is quite oily with long legs in the glass. The palate is very sweet for a Verdelho (in fact we checked the bottle to see if it was really Verdelho) with high acidity, walnut, orange and a long finish with orange and caramel. Very pleasant.

Cossart Gordon 1997 Boal Single Harvest
Bright tawny color with straw-colored rim, intense nose of dried fruits, caramel and toffee. The palate is sweet and shows lots of acidity to counter-balance the sweetness, in fact the acidity carries the wine through to the toffee-ish finish, with a little coffee and also caramel on the way. Well done.

Vinhos Barbeito
30 YO Malvasia Blend
This is the first 30YO that has ever been made. The nose is very promising, caramel, nice VA and a spicey background. Sweet palate with lots and lots of acidity, dried fruits and a long sweet finish with almonds. This wine is rather high in alcohol (20,5%) and very powerful, showing its concentration. No wine for the beginner, but interesting.

1992 TNM Single Harvest
This single harvest wine is made from TNM with a straw color, nutty nose with candied orange de Seville, palate with moderate sweetness but perfect acidity, fruity and nutty at the same time and a long fruity finish. A single cask wine with less then 1000 bottles made. These TNM wines are getting better all the time…

1994 Malvasia Colheita
Medium tawny color, nose with walnut and dried fruits, moderately sweet palate, very fruity, light, elegant and nice walnut finish. Good.

1982 Boal Vintage
Medium dark tawny with amber rim, subdued nutty nose, but then the palate is more focused with lots of acidity, quite sweet, again lots of walnut and almonds. Not really impressive but nevertheless a good and typical Boal. The wine had been in cask for only 21 years until 2001 and had been transferred to demijohns because the sweetness rose to levels that would have made it impossible to bottle this wine as a Boal.

1981 Verdelho Vintage
This wine had been in cask until 2005 for a total of only 24 years. The color is medium tawny, the nose features dried fruits, toffee, not really impressive and no detectable VA, but then the palate shifts to a higher gear, with little sweetness but fierce acidity, lots of fruit, and a long bitter walnut finish. A very complex wine and if I didn’t know that it only had spent 24 years in cask I would have guessed for 40 to 50 years in cask. Very impressive.

1978 Boal Vintage
One of the most impressive of the tasted Madeira vintage wines. The wine had just been bottled after 29 years in cask, with medium dark tawny, rich nose of almonds and a little toffee and some VA as well. The palate is sweet with lots of acidity, toffee, crème brulee, the acidity carries the wine through to a long almond finish that ends slightly bitter to make you long for the next sip. This is a very good wine and already is very impressive for its young age.

Vinhos Justino Henriques
1998 TNM Colheita Fine Rich
Made from TNM, this wine is of medium tawny color with a hint of iodine, intense sweet toffee nose with nuts as well. The palate is sweet and rich, toffee and a bitter background of coffee, with a medium long toffee finish. Again a good TNM wine!

1997 TNM Colheita Fine Rich
Another TNM wine, this one with medium dark iodine color and an impressive toffee nose with caramel and nuts as well. The palate is very sweet, but with good backing acidity and a nice toffee and walnut melange. And another good TNM wine.

Terrantez Old Reserve
This is always one of my favourite wines. Color of medium tawny, nutty nose with caramel and some VA as well, but the palate is the real winner: just a little sweetness but nevertheless very rich and silky, with strong acidity, layers of walnut, toffee and always a hint of bitterness in the background that goes on to a long finish. A very complex wine. The exact age is unknown, and estimates range from 40 to 70 years, but you don’t really care once you drank it. This wine gives a very good impression of the glory of old and concentrated Terrantez vintage Madeiras – for a fraction of the price.