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March 23, 2010

News and TNs from ProWein 2010

At the last weekend the ProWein 2010, one of the largest wine fairs in the world, again took place in Düsseldorf. About 3500 producers from all over the world presented wines and other alcoholic drinks to the public. As usual I focused on Rieslings from the Palatinate and Champagne, but of course my main interest was Madeira wine. To bad the Sherry organization had decided against the usual Sherry lounge, but on the other hand this meant more time for Madeira.

The Madeira Wine Institute IVBAM had organized a common booth together with four Madeira wine producers: 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 and Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda., represented by Julio Fernandes. The IVBAM itself was also there with its friendly staff and as always, Matthias Meichsner represented the Portuguese chamber of foreign commerce AICEP. The main topic besides the wines themselves was the flooding of the island, just a few weeks ago. None of the producers was severely hit by the floods and things were very much back to normal they reported. It looks like Funchal will be perfectly ready for the Flower Festival in April. Lots of information about Madeira wine was available and an interesting wine-food-paring event was hosted by Michael Pleitgen, head of the Berliner Weinakademie, associated with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust WSET. All the companies present had brought their range of blends as well as some rarities, free for tasting.

A great thank you goes to the IVBAM and Matthias Meichsner, AICEP as well as to the producers for generously sharing their Madeira wines. The tasting notes of some wines that impressed me most as well as some additional information are posted below.

Madeira Wine Company
I asked Ricardo Tavares about the Harvest-Colheita-Vintage legislation and he told me that indeed a wine bottled as a Colheita could indeed become –after further cask ageing- a vintage Madeira. In fact the MWC has wines in cask that already have been bottled as a Colheita wine, but look promising enough to keep a part of the vintage for further ageing. Should the winemaker later decide that the wine did not quite reach vintage Madeira qualities, it could still be used to back up the blends.
2001 Harvest Malmsey
This Harvest wine shows a iodine brown color with a lovely and rich walnut nose, some raisins and an atypical, almost floral background (or was it the detergent?). On the palate the wine is rich with sweet walnuts and some roasted aromas like coffee and molasses, but it is all carried by a solid fruity backbone, ending in long caramel and walnut finish. 92 points in 3/2010.
2000 Colheita Verdelho
A bright iodine brown color and a nutty nose with a splash of VA lead the way to a moderately sweet but very nutty and elegant palate with an almost lean impression, well defined with walnuts, little toffee and almonds, ending in a nutty finish of medium length. 90 points in 3/2010.
15YO Malmsey
This wine shows a brilliant medium dark iodine color and a rather rich nose of nuts, fudge and some darker aromas like ashes and burnt sugar as well. In the mouth the wine is very sweet, but with solid acidity as a counterweight, lots of caramel here but again the roasted aromas that also showed up in the nose. Burnt sugar, a hint of cinnamon and coffee are coming through and keep the sweet wine interesting and very complex before ending on a long caramel finish with just a hint of roastiness at the very end. 93 points in 3/2010.

Henriques & Henriques
The company was not affected at all by the flooding and business is running well as usual. From some other source I have heard that the remaining bottles of the “heavenly quartet” are decreasing fast. So every Madeira wine fanatic that has never had a chance to taste these four wines be warned that time is running out on you.
15YO Bual
This 15YO blend displays a cold medium dark brown, almost cola-like. The nose is very interesting with a kaleidoscope of walnuts, caramel and toffee, rich and decadent. On the palate there is caramel sweetness to begin with, also lots of toffee and then the acidity really jumps into your face and opens a second stage of raisins, figs and other dried fruits. A base layer of figs goes through to the long caramel end. 92 points in 3/2010.

Vinhos Justino Henriques
Due to its location up hill in Cancela the company was also not affected by the flooding. After being very successful with the Colheitas of 1995, 1996 (one of my favourite Colheitas ever!) and 1998, they finally closed the gap by presenting the 1997 Colheita.
1997 Fine Rich Colheita
So after the brilliant 1996 Colheita I was looking forward to this 1997 wine. This Colheita shows a reddish iodine brown with, very interesting and brilliant color. The subdued nose is dark and roasted, some raisins there as well but the overall impression is one of singed and burnt aromas. Then to my surprise the palate is very fruity, rich sweetness in good balance to high acidity, rather little caramel and more on the fruity and grapey side of aromas, with a long fruity and highly acidic finish. Different then the 1996 Colheita but definitely a very good wine too. 92 points in 3/2010.

H. M. Borges
Things are going very well for H. M. Borges, Goncalo de Spinola told me, since they decided to enter the German market only last year. Also the other European markets are on a slow but steady rise. The economic crisis does not seem to have a severe effect on Madeira exports. H. M. Borges is thinking about new facilities, depending on how the economy will unfold in 2010. In general there seems to be a change of attitude at Borges, shifting to a more expansive and competitive strategy. Also there are plans to release a second bottling of the 40+ years Malmsey blend, which could be a 60+ years blend if only regulations weren’t standing in the way. The first bottling was only 1000 bottles and these were gone in a hurry.
Rainwater
This rainwater is intended for the everyday-madeira-market and is made from Tinta Negra Mole. It should be served very cold and I am sure that the level of sweetness will then be semi-dry. At the rather high temperature of ProWein conditions the wine is semi-sweet, soft and rounded, mellow, indeed with a rain”watery” feeling but in a very positive way. This light brown wine with its subdued nutty nose is certainly the sweetest rainwater I have ever had, but it is well done and a great value. 87 points in 3/2010.
1998 Single Harvest Malmsey
After 8 years in cask, this Single Harvest Malmsey shows a medium dark mahogany color with a fruity toffee nose. In the mouth this wine is all harmony, soft and rounded, very much on the toffee and caramel side with lots of sweetness, some walnuts and almonds and a long and sweet caramel finish. Maybe this wine is old fashioned in its caramel and toffee design but very well done. 93 points in 3/2010.
1977 Boal Vintage
Opened just minutes ago this wine shows a muddy iodine brown color. The nose has lots of VA, dates and figs, then a second layer of nuts and even fruity grapes in the background, impressive and multidimensional. In the mouth the wine is medium sweet, nutty and fudgy then it shifts to a more roasted side but still with fudgy nuts in the foreground, ending with a slightly roasted finish with medium length. 92 points in 3/2010.

The following video is a short feature about the Prowein 2010 with focus on Rieslings from the Palatinate, Champagne and Madeira wine of course. It is my first video ever, so please be lenient… And of course I am not a native speaker, but nevertheless I thought that 98% of the earth’s population would still be better off with my bad English instead of my perfect German :-)


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