April 01, 2009

News and TNs from ProWein 2009

At the end of March the ProWein 2009, one of the largest wine fairs in the world, took place in windy Düsseldorf. About 3000 producers from all over the world presented wines and other alcoholic drinks to the public. Even though the impact of the international economic crisis was well visible, the event was very much complete in terms of different countries and wine regions presented at the fair. This year I focused on Rieslings from the Palatinate and Champagne, but of course my main interest was Madeira wine.

The Madeira Wine Institute IVBAM had organized a common booth for the Madeira wine producers. The companies of Henriques & Henriques, represented by CEO Humberto Jardim, the Madeira Wine Company, represented by commercial manager Ricardo Tavares and Vinhos Justino Henriques, represented by commercial manager Julio Fernandez showed their range of blends, as well as Colheita wines and Vintage Madeiras. Unfortunately Vinhos Barbeitos had to cancel their planned appearance at the ProWein. Besides a lot of sampling from the wines shown at the Madeira booth, there was a lot of interesting news from Madeira island and some talk about how the struggling economy affects the Madeira wine business. An interesting tasting seminar had been organized too, hosted by sommeliere Yvonne Heistermann. A big THANK YOU goes to all the people from the producers and the IVBAM who were very helpful, generously poured samples and provided lots of information.

Here are some news and tasting notes from the three companies present at the Düsseldorf ProWein 2009. In general the overall quality of Madeira wine is becoming better year after year, especially the quality of the TNM wines. I am looking forward to next year’s ProWein and many new Madeira wines in 2010!

Henriques & Henriques:
I talked to Humberto Jardim about future prices for vintage Madeira wines. Because of the enormous costs involved in the production of vintage Madeira, there will be no drop in prices, despite the world wide crisis of the economy. New releases of vintage Madeiras are currently not in the pipeline. The company wants to focus on existing products and rather wait and react to the market as things develop. H&H had a very good Colheita wine for tasting as well as the complete range of blended wines, which are always worth tasting..
Henriques & Henriques 1998 Colheita
Like the other producers too, H&H now mark the Colheita wines as „Single Harvest“ to make marketing easier on the international markets. This Colheita is made from Tinta Negra Mole (TNM) and has a residual sugar of 120 gr/l, 19% alcohol and about 4,5 gr/l of total acidity. The wine has a dark amber color, a nose stuffed with caramel, roasted aromas and lots of toffee. The wine is remarkably sweet, rather complex, lots of caramel in the mouth too, some darker roasted aromas as well, then a wonderful toffee finish of medium length. Again this wine shows the level of quality the wines from TNM can achieve if the producers put enough effort into it.

Madeira Wine Company:
There is interesting news from the MWC: In the near future the MWC is going to produce 5YO blends from the TNM grape to relief some pressure from the white grape varieties in order to free capacities for Colheitas and vintage Madeiras. May be the 5YO TNM blends are going to replace the 5YO blends from the classic varieties completely, this is not yet decided and will depend on the development of the market. There was a dry and a rich 5YO TNM blend for tasting at the ProWein, both were quite good, another proof for the skills of the winemaker Francisco Albuquerque, “winemaker of the year” third time in a row. Also a Blandy Terrantez Colheita is going to be released in the near future. In general the MWC will focus even more on the main brand of Blandy’s. Miles is only available on the island; Leacock is only being kept for Scandinavia, where the brand is well established. Finally the MWC introduced new corks printed with the vintage year of the wine bottled, as well as the year of bottling.
Blandy’s 5YO Dry Blend (TNM)
This is the new TNM blend for the near future, showing a nice orange-brown color. The nose shows nutty flavors, grapey fruit and raisins. On the palate the wine is quite fruity, not to dry, pleasant to drink, with enough acidity to keep it interesting. Certainly less nutty flavors compared with the 5YO Sercial, but nevertheless a well done wine for everyday drinking.
Blandy’s 5YO Rich Blend (TNM)
The sweet variety of the 5YO TNM blend shows a warm cola brown and a big and very rich nose of figs and raisins –wow!- then in the mouth considerable sweetness, but no to sticky, raisins and lots of toffee, lots of acidity, much more than in the 5YO Malmsey, very well integrated, long finish of fruit and caramel. This is a very good blend, and is even better than the 5YO Malmsey IMHO.
Blandy’s 1992 Malmsey Colheita
This wine has only been bottled in January 2009 and shows a medium dark mahogany. The nose is subdued, mainly toffee. Then in the mouth the wine switches to a higher gear, with a spectacular acidic attack at first, then caramel and butter, toffee, leading to an almost creamy impression, before ending with a slightly bitter caramel finish. After 17 years in the cask this wine is impressing, powerful and complex.
Blandy’s 1991 Boal Colheita
This Colheita spent 18 years in cask, you might call it an almost-vintage Madeira. In fact a good Colheita Madeira could spend a couple more years in cask and return to the market as a vintage Madeira later, if enough wine has remained in cask to warrant the effort. This wine now shows a nice orange-brown color and a sweet toffee nose. On the palate there is pleasant sweetness with enough acidity as a counterpart, also some roasted, darker aromas, quite complex, lots of toffee, and a dark toffee finish. Well done and rather concentrated, thanks to the 18 years in cask.
Blandy’s 1990 Malmsey Colheita
And another interesting Colheita with a shiny iodine brown and a fruity raisin nose with lots of toffee added. On the palate the first impression is that of a Chinese sweet and sour sauce, because of the concentration, but the balance of sweetness and acidity is well done, a little sharp in the beginning, probably not decanted long enough, only little caramell and toffee, but lots of fruit, lemon, orange, a little Moscatel, also a long fruity finish with a touch of bitterness at the end, reminding me of candied orange peel. Very interesting and well done, for me the best Colheita of the 2009 ProWein, a perfect example of the modern fruity Madeira style.
Blandy’s 1977 Boal
After 30 years in cask, this Boal has been bottled in 2007. Even though quite young, the color is a rich and warm iodine brown. In the nose there is a little amount of volatile acidity, then figs and honey, a little caramel. On the palate the sweetness is forthcoming with just the right amount of sugar (80 gr/l), lots of acidity, a little sharp at the beginning, but the bottle had been opened just an hour ago, then lots and lots of sweet toffee, with still enough acidity in the background, and a long creamy toffee finish. This is a very good Madeira, a typical Boal, impressive already, it will benefit from more time in cask.
Blandy’s 1966 Sercial
Bottled in 2004 the wine has been in cask for 38 years. The color is a dark tawny, the nose is all nuts at first, then a little fruity as well. The first impression on the palate is a real acid punch, but then the acidity becomes a kaleidoscope of fruity aromas, the wine changes to a softer layer of nuts and licorice –is this really a Sercial?- even a little toffee and a long almond finish, still carried through by the acidity. A well done combination of the two sometimes rather different styles of Sercial: acidity and nuts. Very interesting, even for those who usually do not really like Sercial.

Vinhos Justino Henriques:
There is news from VJH too: I saw a new brand for the European market called „Colombo“. According to VJH the brand had existed before (besides Justino’s and East India) but had not yet been shown at the ProWein.
Justino’s 1998 Colheita
This is the successor to my favorite Colheita of 1996. Unfortunately it can not fully compete with the predecessor. Nevertheless the wine is well done, shows a shiny iodine brown, a nice caramel nose and on the palate a solid balance of sweetness and acidity with fruit, caramel and a sweet toffee-finish.
Justino’s 1996 Colheita
This is the first really convincing wine for me, made from TNM. It has a medium dark iodine color and a very rich, sweet and nutty nose, with toffee too and figs. The palate has medium sweetness and is perfectly balanced with medium acidity, toffee, a little vanilla, almonds, nuts, then also darker aromas, coffee. The vinous finish is very long and the wine in general is very enjoyable to drink, combines complexity and harmony!