October 15, 2009

Hamburg IVBAM Madeira Tasting 2009

At the 5th of October, the Portuguese chamber of foreign commerce AICEP and the Madeira Wine Institute IVBAM held their annual Madeira wine tasting event in sunny Hamburg, Germany. The tasting took place in the beautiful Grand Elysee Hotel. Interesting, that the IVBAM decided to go against the stream of the world wide depression and expand this event, compared to the tasting in Berlin last year (see the post about the Berlin tasting 2008 here). Thanks to many wonderful Madeira wines, an interesting masterclass and a perfect organization, the event was a great success. It certainly sparked the enthusiasm of the people present for Madeira wine.

Panoramic view of beautiful Hamburg, Germany.

Panoramic view of beautiful Hamburg, Germany.

This time five Madeira wine producers were present: H. M. Borges Lda, represented by Goncalo de Spinola, Henriques & Henriques Vinhos SA, represented by Humberto Jardim, the Madeira Wine Company SA, represented by Ricardo Tavares, Vinhos Barbeito Lda., represented by Americo Pereira from Diogos Wine Shop in Funchal and Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda., represented by Julio Fernandes. The IVBAM itself was represented by vice director Joao Nunes. As always, Matthias Meichsner represented the AICEP. Lots of information about Madeira wine was available, an advertising movie with wonderful views of Madeira island was shown and tasty hors d’oeuvres and delicious Bolo de Mel relieved any hunger. All the companies present had brought their range of blends as well as some rarities, free for tasting.

Madeira masterclass in Hamburg.

Madeira masterclass in Hamburg.

The Madeira masterclass certainly was the highlight of the event. It was hosted by Michael Pleitgen, head of the Berliner Weinakademie, associated with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust WSET. Ten most impressive Madeira wines were tasted. Michael Pleitgen also gave a half hour presentation about the special features of Madeira wine that fascinated even the seasoned Madeira wine veterans.

A great thank you goes to Joao Nunes, IVBAM and Matthias Meichsner, AICEP for the invitation to this perfect event, as well as to the producers for generously sharing their Madeira wines. If this event is any hint at how the future of Madeira wine is going to be then there is no need for worries! The tasting notes of fourteen wines that impressed me most are posted below. You might notice that the emphasis was on sweet and semi-sweet wines, but to me this was only fitting for the start of the cold season.

The ten wonderful wines of the Madeira masterclass.

The ten wonderful wines of the Madeira masterclass.

H. M. Borges
1998 Malvasia Colheita
This Colheita shows a dark mahogany color. The nose is dominated by roasted dark hazelnut-aromas together with a fair amount of volatile acidity and orange. The taste is rather sweet, but well balanced with acidity, together with lots of caramel and even a hint of vanilla, then nuts again and a long caramel finish. A good example of a classic Malvasia wine. 91 points 10/2009.

1995 Boal Colheita
A bright but cold iodine brown is the interesting color of this wine. Heavy and singed caramel together with a small amount of volatile acidity please the nose. In the mouth the first sip leaves a roasted, almost smoked impression, lots of toffee here and caramel as well, but also a good measure of fruity acidity. A clean caramel finish of medium length leaves the mouth waiting for the next sip. A very nice old-style Madeira. 92 points 10/2009.

1977 Sercial Vintage
This rather young vintage Madeira displays a bright iodine brown, almost tawny color. The nose is fresh and nutty, with a slight hint of oak and a splash of volatile acidity adding to the overall impression of lightness. On the palate this Sercial is rather sweet, so this is a pleasant surprise for all those who usually do not like Sercial. A nutty foundation with powerful acidity carries caramel, a little toffee and lots of walnuts to the long finish. An impressive wine and a Sercial that is pleasant to drink without having to wait a couple of decades. 93 points 10/2009.

Henriques & Henriques
2000 Bual Single Harvest
This single harvest wine shows its young age by the bright mahogany color with a greenish rim. In the multilayered nose with a little volatile acidity dried fruits and caramel dominate, but there is also a hint of vanilla. On the palate the wine is pleasantly sweet, but also rounded and harmonious with lots of caramel and soft acidity. In the background there is subdued fruit that carries on to the creamy caramel and toffee finish. This wine might not have a lot of personality but it is just easy to drink and a real fun wine. A nice drink for the cold season too. 92 points 10/2009.

1998 Rich Single Harvest
This wine is made from Tinta Negra Mole and shows a bright iodine brown color. The nose is multilayered with caramel, toffee, walnut, raisins and a hint of coffee beans. In the mouth there is a fierce attack of acidity that carries on as a backbone, but also yummy aromas of citrus fruits that compete with a broad layer of caramel. The rich sweetness adds to the pleasant impression of this wine, ending in a long and fruity finish. A well made TNM wine! 91 points 10/20009.

Madeira Wine Company
2001 Blandys Harvest Malmsey
A golden brown color with a slightly reddish rim, almost like a chestnut brown promises a rather heavy Malmsey. The nose is packed with caramel and different nutty aromas, a hint of roasted aromas as well. In the mouth there is considerable sweetness but also lots of acidity, so this wine is in good balance. There is lots of caramel, lots of walnut and a funky roastiness that carries on to the caramel finish, keeping the wine from being cloying. Very nice and pleasant to drink, a great wine for the cold season and already quite complex despite its young age. 92 points 19/2009.

1990 Blandys Colheita Malmsey
This colheita shows a dark iodine brown with a slightly greenish rim. The nose is rather subdued, with a hint of volatile acidity and some caramel. But once on the palate, the wine shifts to a higher gear with a very good balance between heavy sweetness and powerful acidity, bitter-sweet fruits to go with it, almost a hint of grapefruit there, then a caramel finish of medium length. An impressive wine that would benefit in complexity from a couple more years in cask and might even return as a young vintage Madeira. 91 points 10/2009.

1976 Blandys Terrantez Vintage
This Terrantez vintage Madeira was the best wine of the tasting for me. Later one of my Madeira wine comrades told me, that this wine is one of his favorites and that he has been buying it for years. I had never had this wine before, but after tasting it , I can easily see why. The color is a dark mahogany. In the nose there is a kaleidoscope of aromas, lots of volatile acidity, a little musk, dark and roasted aromas, then a touch of something wild, funky, leathery, waxy, hard to describe, but pleasant and very well fitting into the overall impression, and finally a lot of dried fruits. So much fun before even the first sip, wow. And then with the first sip the wine keeps its promise: nutty sweetness, powerful acidity, a layer of bitter walnut, lots of caramel, raisins, molasses, that wild, funky, leathery thing in the background again and then a long bitter walnut finish. What a great wine, hard to believe it only had 21 years in cask. I just hope they will give it more time, since this is going to become a classic Terrantez vintage Madeira. 94 points 10/2009.

Vinhos Barbeitos
VB Reserve
Lote 2 Cask 12d und 46a

This rarity displays a bright iodine brown color and a fruity nose with caramel to go with it. The palate is also very fruity, funky acid there as well, leading to a clean and fresh impression, then there is some caramel and medium sweetness in the finish. A nice wine that will do well as an aperitif as well as an after dinner drink. 92 points 10/2009.

Malvasia 20 Years Old
This rare 20 YO Blend shows a tawny color with straw colored rim. The nose is focused on nutty and fruity aromas. In the mouth the wine is rather sweet, but complex, with lots of acidity, a little overpowering, lots of fruit and a long bitter walnut finish. Other participants liked this wine a lot more then I did. 89 points 10/2009.

2001 Boal Colheita
Interesting straw color with a hint of yellow here. The nose displays candied orange and grapey fruit, reminding me of a Moscatel de Setubal. The palate is also on the light side with lots of sweetness but rather little acidity, a hint of fruit, then toffee and caramel. For an acid freak like me the wine was a little cloying and one-dimensional. The all-caramel finish was rather short. 89 points 10/2009.

1981 Verdelho Vintage
A well-known Verdelho to me, this 1981 wine, that spent 24 years in cask until 2005. The color is a medium bright tawny with a hint of red. The nose has dried fruits, a hint of cinnamon, some raisins, more complex then I remembered. The palate is quite powerful with lots of fierce acidity, only little sweetness in the background, leading to an almost dry overall impression, nice citric fruit here with only little caramel, but complex and nutty. The powerful acidity carries through to the walnut finish. A good and very powerful wine! 93 points 10/2009.

Vinhos Justino Henriques
1995 Colheita

The predecessor of my favorite TNM-colheita shows a golden brown and an unusual but pleasant nose with fruity caramel and an initial blast of peppermint. The palate is sweet and balanced with pleasant acidity, nice fruit in the background, but the focus is on caramel, walnut and almonds, with a slightly bitter nutty finish. A well made TNM wine. 91 points 10/2009.

1996 Colheita
This TNM colheita has been a favorite of mine for a long time and it impressed me again. With its dark iodine brown color and its rich nose of figs, nuts and coffee this colheita is complex and fun to drink. In the mouth it is quite sweet, perfectly balanced with just the right amount of acidity, then toffee, almonds, walnuts, also some darker more roasted aromas as well. This time the wine is even more rounded and mellow, may be because of the longer storage time in cask. The grapey finish is long. A very pleasant drink and a good combination of complexity and harmony. 92 points 10/2009.