Vinhos Justino Henriques, Filhos, Lda. = VJH
The company of Vinhos Justino Henriques, Filhos, Lda. was founded in 1870. In 1981, Sigfredo da Costa Campos bought the company from the owners of the Companhia Vinicola da Madeira and later bought the stocks of the Companhia as well. Associated are also East India Madeira Co. Lda., Uniao Vinicola (Funchal) Lda. and Monteiro Vinhos. Today the company is owned by the French La Martiniquaise company which also does the import for the French market. The company took a big blow when Sigfredo da Costas Campos, the energetic co-owner of VJH died in 2008. Until then VJH had been on a steady course of expansion, building a new facility for the storage of casks at Cancela and reaching almost 50% of exports.
View of the lodge in Cancela.
The company is one of the largest producers of Madeira wine, expanding considerably in the last years. After producing for a long time in the downtown of Funchal in the Rua do Carmo 86, the company moved to new grounds in 1994 to a huge site in the Cancela Industrial Park near Canico. Everything from winemaking to packing, as well as the laboratory and the tasting room; it is all done on this site.
Grape reception facilities.
The grapes come from 700 to 800 producers, mainly from the Sao Vicente and Camara de Lobos area. The average of just 3000 kg of grapes per producer shows how small the vineyards on the island really are. Payment in 2003 was about 1 € per kg, depending on the sugar content of the grapes. The grapes are transported in boxes of 50 kg coming from the south side or containers of 1000 kg coming from the north of the island. After pressing the grapes undergo a short maceration of a few hours. The total storage capacity is 650.000 hectolitres in wood and 4.500.000 hectolitres in inox-steel. All the blends and colheitas undergo estufagem, being heated to 45-50° Celsius for three months. Of course, the vintage wines are treated by the Canteiro method.
Casks in the VJH lodge.
The company also participates in the EU Poseima program. Justino still exports a little bulk wine, even though these exports were officially stopped in 2001. To prevent it from being bottled as Madeira wine, they add salt and pepper to it. By doing this, they make sure this wine is only used to make Sauce Madere for the French market. The most important export markets are France, the United States, Russia, Poland, Skandinavia, Mexico and Brasil. The company also matures the wines for the Broadbent Selection range of Madeiras.
View of the bottling line.
Even though everything looks quite modern and high-tech, the style of winemaking is quite traditional. As Juan Teixeira, the winemaker, puts it: “The secret to making a good Madeira wine is having good grapes to start with and then a good old cask - then you just sit and wait!” I have only limited experience with their vintage wines and colheitas, but I like the 10 YO sweet blend (made from Tinta Negra Mole) very much, being rather complex, rounded and sweet, with a nice aftertaste of burnt coffee. Also the old Terrantez Reserva is very good, being about 50 years old. There are still some old vintage wines from the Companhia Vinicola around at auctions, going back to the 1795 Terrantez.
Packing of the bottles for export.
Address: Vinhos Justino Henriques, Filhos, Lda. Parque Industrial Cancela, P-9125-042 Canico (You can take the bus number 39 to the Industrial Parque, the terminus is just across the entrance to the wine company), Tel 00351-291-934257, Fax 00351-291-934049. Lisbon office: Tva. da Conceicao da Gloria 7-6°, 1200 Lisboa – Portugal, Tel 00351-21-3460901, Fax 00351-21-3471801.
View of the tasting room.