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January 06, 2007

Henriques & Henriques Vinhos S.A. = H&H

The company of Henriques & Henriques Vinhos S. A. was founded in 1850 by Joao Joachim Henriques. Associated are: Belem’s Madeira Wine Lda. (founded 1932), Carmo Vinhos Lda. (founded 1928), Casa dos Vinhos da Madeira Lda. (founded 1932) which bottles the Madeira wine for Sandeman and Antonio Eduardo Henriques Sucrs. Lda. (founded 1960). Most of these brands are still used today.

View of the Belem lodge up the road.

View of the Belem lodge up the road.

H & H is one of the largest producers of Madeira wine on the island. Today the company is run by John Cossart whose father Peter Cossart (the brother of Noel Cossart who wrote "The island vineyard") entered the firm in 1938. The winemaker for more than a decade is Luis Pereira who has been awarded "Winemaker of the year" and prefers a classic rich and weighty style. Contrary to most other Madeira wine producing companies H&H owns some vineyards. In 1995 they even established a new vineyard at Quinta Grande at the size of 10 hectares (25 acres) which is accessible to machines. Also they built a new adega in Quinta Grande so that the company can work with state of the art equipment. All the vinification and estufagem is done here. The wines then mature down in the Belem lodge. West from the center of Camara de Lobos (Largo Republica) you go up the road a few minutes. The big building with the southern glass front is the main office with tasting rooms, bottling line and other facilities.

The great glass front lets in the sun’s heat: the typical armazem do sol.

The great glass front lets in the sun’s heat: the typical armazem do sol.

Entrance to the Belem lodge.

Entrance to the Belem lodge.

Their most important export markets besides the European countries (Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden and Germany) are the U. S. and Canada. H & H’s blended wines from the 5 year old up to the 15 year old are made from the traditional varieties, the 3 year old from Tinta Negra Mole.

Bottling line in the basement of the Belem lodge.

Bottling line in the basement of the Belem lodge.

Some excellent 20th Century wines are being offered but the most glorious wines are certainly four old vintage wines that are called “the heavenly quartet”. This quartet consists of the Grand Old Boal (bottled in 1927), Reserva Malvasia (bottled in 1964), Reserva Sercial (bottled in 1965) and the W.S. Boal (bottled in 1927). These four wines bear no specific vintage date, but they were considered “old wines” in 1850. Alex Lidell and other Madeira wine critics regard them as textbook examples of Madeira wine. Personally I like the W.S. Boal best, a fantastic, multi-layered and very complex wine. Due to their very limited stock they are rather expensive. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to taste wines of the "heavenly quartet" in Camara de Lobos. By the way: these old wines are recorked on a regular basis. H & H is one of the few producers to do this. They even mark the dates of recorking on the bottle! Also on the backlabel is a note in Portuguese, recommending storage of Madeira wines in a vertical position.

Casks seen in the Belem lodge (shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel).

Casks seen in the Belem lodge (shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel).

The “heavenly quartet” (shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel).

The “heavenly quartet” (shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel).

In my opinion, the 15 year old blends, as well as the 10 YO, are a very good value. Especially when you look for some Madeira wine you can drink more often than once in a lifetime. Some old soleras and vintages can also be found in shops and auctions.

Address: Caminho Grande e Preces, Sitio de Belém, P-9300 Câmara de Lobos, Tel 00351-291-941551 or 941552, Fax 00351-291-941590. An adega is located in Ribeira do Escrivao, Quinta Grande, Tel 00351-291-942203.
Email marketing@henriquesehenriques.pt
Website at http://www.henriquesehenriques.pt

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