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January 11, 2007

Pictures are going online

You might have noticed that some of the pictures are online now. About half of the total pictures is still missing, but we're working on it. The report on the Seattle Madeira wine tasting and the tasting notes are online now. Please mail in any typos, corrections, whatever - thanks.

January 06, 2007

All the text is online now...

...and the pictures are going to follow soon, please be patient. You are welcome to mail in all typos and corrections - thanks.

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. La Martiniquaise had also bought a small share of competitor Henriques&Henriques and in 2012 acquired the majority of H&H from Dr. Humberto Jardim who remains CEO.

View of the lodge in Cancela.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Email: justino@justinosmadeira.com
Website: http://www.justinosmadeira.com

View of the tasting room.

View of the tasting room.

Vinhos Barbeito (Madeira) Lda.

The company of Vinhos Barbeito was founded in 1948 by Mario Barbeito. After his death his daughter Dona Manuela de Freitas and her two sons Miguel and Ricardo took over. In 1991 Barbeito sold 50 % of the company to the Kinoshita Shoji Company Ltd., a Japanese company trading in beverages. Ricardo today is the winemaker of Vinhos Barbeito and loves experimentation, as a lot of interesting (and well-tasting) developments show, like blends from different grape varieties, single cask wines, single vineyard wines and so on. Also Vinhos Barbeito produces the Rare Wine Company's Historic Series of Madeiras. This series offers Boston Bual Special Reserve, New York Malmsey Special Reserve, and Charleston Sercial Special Reserve. Also in Spring 2007 a limited bottling of New Orleans Special Reserve Terrantez has been released.

Barbeito sign.

Barbeito sign.

Today Vinhos Barbeito is one of the largest producers of Madeira wine on the island. Barbeito does not own any vineyards, but purchases grapes from their producers, mainly from Sao Vicente and Camara de Lobos and Estreito de Camara de Lobos. The wine is made in Estreito de Camara de Lobos, all the other work is done in the lodge at the Estrada Monumental. This building was once a sugar mill but today houses the storing vats, the laboratory, the bottling line and the tasting room as well as the office. Some potential vintage wines are maturing in Barreiros. The others are maturing in the lodge. The company participates in the POSEIMA programm of the EU.

View of the Barbeito lodge.

View of the Barbeito lodge.

The most important export market by far is Japan, followed by Taiwan. Also Great Britain, the United States, and some other European countries are important export countries.

Vinhos Barbeito offers the classic range of blends, but the real treasure is the stock of old vintage wines. Probably the most famous wine is -or better was- the Terrantez 1795. Please refer to the chapter about “The 1795 Vintages” for more information about this wine. A lot of other old vintages, some dating from before 1900, are still available. In the tasting room you will find a changing display of old vintage wines. Vinhos Barbeito also acquired some of the Oscar Acciaioli wines when this company went out of business. The wines already bottled were sold under the Acciaioli label, the wine in cask was sold under Barbeitos name. Personally, I like the Oscar/Barbeito 1839 Verdelho the best. Also the Malmseys of 1834, 1875 and 1900 are very good as well as the 1863 Bual.

Steel tanks seen at Barbeito’s.

Steel tanks seen at Barbeito’s.

Old casks at Barbeito’s.

Old casks at Barbeito’s.

Big storing casks at Barbeito’s.

Big storing casks at Barbeito’s.

Diogo’s Wine and Spirit Shop is another outlet for Vinhos Barbeitos. The shop also houses the Columbus museum in the basement. The books and other items connected to Christopher Columbus were collected by the founder of the company, Mario Barbeito.

Address: Vinhos Barbeito (Madeira) Lda., Estrada Monumental 145, P-9000 Funchal, right besides the famous Reid's hotel, left to Banco Espirito Santo, Tel 00351-291-762434, Fax 00351-291-765832. Storing facility: Torre, Camara de Lobos, Tel 00351-291-942094.
Email: barbeitomadeira@mail.telepac.pt
Website: http://www.vinhosbarbeito.com

View of the bottling line.

View of the bottling line.

The tasting room at Barbeito’s.

The tasting room at Barbeito’s.

Pereira D’Oliveira (Vinhos), Lda.

The company of Pereira D’Oliveira (Vinhos), Lda. was founded in 1850 by Joao Pereira d’Oliveira. He started as a partidista who produced wines to later sell them to other shippers. From around the mid 1970ies on the company started to market wine under its own label, but continued to sell wines to other companies, like the MWC. For example part of the famous 1908 Bual was sold to the MWC and so today this wine is offered under the Cossart Gordon label as well. Other wines sold to the MWC include the 1882 Verdelho, 1900 Moscatel, 1910 Sercial and 1910 Malvasia . Also the company has been successful in aquiring wines from other producers, especially with taking over the complete remaining stock of the Adegas de Torreao. The 1927 Bastardo and the 1958 Boal are just two brilliant examples of what is going to hit the market, once the Adegas old treasures will be released. Associated are Joao Joaquim Camacho and Augusto Cunha; from both companies very few bottles made it into the 21st century.

Pereira D’Oliveira (Vinhos), Lda. today is a small size family company that is still run by the descendents of the founders family. The current annual production of wine is 1.500 hectolitres; the winemaking is done in Sao Martinho. The company owns some vineyards but most of the grapes are bought from selected farmers. Part of the ageing wine is also stored in the Rua dos Ferreiros where the company has its lodge with sales room and office. Immediately to the right you can find the company of Artur de Barros e Sousa, Lda, another producer of madeira wine.

Entrance to the D’Oliveira lodge.

Entrance to the D’Oliveira lodge.

View of the tasting room.

View of the tasting room.

Their most important export markets are the European countries, Canada and the United States. All the blends (3, 5, 10 and 15 year old) from d’Oliveiras are mainly made from Tinta Negra Mole and all undergo estufagem. The company is famous for its old vintages. Not only is the quality of these of a very high standard, they also seem to exist in large volumes. For decades now, d’Oliveiras has offered an unparalleled variety of old vintage wines dating back to the 1850 Verdelho. Tasting of the vintage wines and the blended wines is free in their tasting and sales room in the Rua dos Ferreiros. Personally I like the 1900 Moscatel vintage best: very fine Moscatel flavor, concentrated, sweet and fruity and has a very, very long lasting flavor. Also the 1850 Verdelho and the 1908 Boal are outstanding and offer excellent value. Of the new vintages I like the 1968 Boal best; it has also won a gold medal in 2002. Certainly a key to the overall high quality of the D#Oliveira wines is the fact, that they stay in wood. Bottling is done according to the demand of the market, so their wines still keep improving.

Old casks at D’Oliveiras.

Old casks at D’Oliveiras.

Bottles awaiting export.

Bottles awaiting export.

Pereira D’Oliveira (Vinhos), Lda. will send wine by mail, they can fax you their shipping rates before, which I find very reasonable. Please keep in mind though that the shipment of Alcohol is not allowed to some destinations.

Address: Address: Pereira D’Oliveira (Vinhos), Lda., Rua dos Ferreiros 107, P-9000-082 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-220784/228558, Fax 00351-291-229081. Adega Tel 00351-291-228622.
Email: perolivinhos@hotmail.com
Website: http://perolivinhos.pai.pt/

Vintage wines for sale at D’Oliveiras.

Vintage wines for sale at D’Oliveiras.

Madeira Wine Institute

The Madeira Wine Institute or Instituto do Vinho da Madeira is the regulatory body for the making of Madeira wine. Its name changed to IVBAM - Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira offically, but most people still call it the IVM.
Address: Rua 5 de Outobro 78, P-9000 Funchal, or PO Box: 9000-079 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-204600, Fax 00351-291-228685. Open Mon – Fri: 9.30am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 5pm.
Alternative address: Rua Visconde de Anadia, 44, PO Box: 9050-020 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-223141, Fax 00351-291-224791.
Email-address: ivbam.sra@gov-madeira.pt
Website at http://www.sra.pt/ivm/default.asp

IVM sign.

IVM sign.

View of the IVM building from the backyard.

View of the IVM building from the backyard.

The Instituto does not offer any blends or vintage wines but makes some wine in its own laboratories that is given away for special events or charities. The museum is very interesting, lots of old photographs, lots of information to soak up for the Madeira wine enthusiast.

Founded in 1980, the IVM awards the paper seal on each bottle of island bottled wine. The IVM relieved the Junta Nacional do Vinho. The JNV wax seal of authenticity is described in the chapter about old bottles. The IVM paper seal bears the complete coat of arms of the island or just the cross in the older seals. The seals are issued to the producers in batches, but it is entirely up to the producer when to use the batches. Besides a number in the range from 000 001 to 999 999 for each batch, the seals also bear a unique letter code indicating the volume of the bottle. This letter code provides some traceability as to when the batch had been issued. Letter codes with a single letter indicate a bottle volume of more than 600ml, letter codes with two letters indicate a bottle volume of less than 600ml.

Different IVM paper seals.

Different IVM paper seals.

Entrance to the museum of the IVM.

Entrance to the museum of the IVM.

Wine press in the IVM museum.

Wine press in the IVM museum.

Madeira Wine Company S.A. = MWC

The Madeira Wine Company was formed in 1913 as an association of exporters who decided to join efforts to increase their efficiency on exportations. It was during the 20’s that most of the British shippers joined the company and on total 26 companies joined this association. The early name was the Madeira Wine Association and 1981 was changed to Madeira Wine Company. Being a corporation since 1987, the company used to belong to the Blandy family and the producers of premium ports, the Symington Family who acquired a shareholding in 1989. In 2011 Blandys regained control of the Madeira Wine Company with the Symington Family Estates maintaining a minority shareholding in the MWC. Chris Blandy became CEO in late 2011.

The four main brands today are Blandy’s, Cossart Gordon, Leacock and Miles. Blandy’s and Cossart Gordon are the two premium brands. These names were originally the names of 4 wine producing families, however only the Blandy family are now still involved in the company. The brand Blandy’s is one of the most popular and widely-sold Madeira wines worldwide.

The Madeira Wine Company today is one of the biggest producers on the island, with approximately 35% of the local Madeira market and with a high share of the bottled market worldwide, especially on the higher categories of wines.

The company did not own any vineyards but for one small exception. It used to rely on grapes bought from selected farmers. With the rising need to secure enough grapes for the wine making, the company however went back into also owning vineyards in 2012/2013. Today one plot is the Quinta do Santa Luzia with 1.5ha, intended as a top Terrantez site. The second is the Quinta do Furao with 2ha, planted with Sercial and Verdelho. Finally the largest site at 4.5ha is Quinta do Bispo, planted mainly with Malvasia. The other grapes come from different locations on the island. For example Bual comes mainly from Calheta, Malvasia from Sao Jorge and Tinta Negra Mole from Camara de Lobos and S. Vicente. The grapes are all processed at the company winery at Mercês, and the company has during the vintage a collecting depot on the north coast to deal with their grape purchases in S. Vicente and Porto Moniz. The grapes arrive in single plastic boxes to prevent early fermentation. After pressing, the classical varieties undergo maceration for a maximum of 12 hours or none at all. The wine is then fermented in stainless steel at controlled temperatures. Only the three year old wines will undergo estufagem, all the other wines are matured by the traditional canteiro method. Some of the canteiro casks are located above the estufagem tanks to benefit from the heat. The MWC makes its own casks and until recently, it was possible to see this at their visitor centre, “The Old Blandy Wine Lodge”. Presently the cooperage is located on the Mercês winery; however, visitors taking the guided tour can still see the cooper’s tools.

The wines are stored in both lodges, Merces and “The Old Blandy Wine Lodge”. The total storage capacity is of approximately 5.000.000 litres. The Merces lodge also houses the laboratory, tasting room, quality control, bottling and packing facilities. The São Francisco lodge, nowadays also called “The Old Blandy Wine Lodge”, is more of tourist interest, and is also a very important storage area for the wines aged on the canteiro method. You will find tasting rooms for vintages and blends, shops and also the new “Arcadas de São Francisco” shopping centre right behind the lodge.

It is amazing that even though the wines are made by the same company, the four different brands are far from being of a uniform taste. The wine maker Francisco Albuquerque (multi-awarded "Wine maker of the year"!) has been able to keep an individial style for each of the brands. Blandy wines are always a little richer and heavier, Cossart wines are more fruity and elegant, Leacock wines always appear to me as sweeter than the other brands and Miles represents a somewhat lighter style.

In the last years the MWC has clearly been a driving force behind the rejuvenation of the image of Madeira wine. New styles like Colheita, Harvest and Alvada (see chapter on types of wine) have stirred much publicity and caused a positive response from the market, especially from new and younger wine drinkers. The most important export markets are the U.K., U. S., Belgium, Japan, Switzerland and other countries.

Today, many of the MWC famous old vintages and soleras are only found on auctions or in shops specializing in old Madeira wine. In 2003 the only really old wines where the Cossart Gordon 1908 Bual; very concentrated, lots of caramel, coffee, ashes and very, very long finish, and two soleras from 1860 and 1870. It is no secret that some of the older wines, like the 1882 Verdelho, the 1900 Moscatel, the 1908 Boal and the 1910 Malvasia were bought from other companies, especially D'Oliveiras in the mid 1980ies. This was (and still is) common practice amongst the different producers. In fact most producers offer some wines that they did not produce themselves but bought from other producers or stockholders called partidistas. Some of the MWC's younger vintages are very promising and well worth tasting. Also I find the Centennial Blend, a unique limited edition blend of the four main varieties, very interesting. This blend is limited to 3500 bottles only and was edited for the year 2000 celebrations. The Colheitas offer some individuality but are lighter than the frasqueira vintages. The latest innovations also include single-vineyard wines. Of course you can find the full range of blends from the MWC. Personally I like the 10 YO Cossart wines best, especially the Bual, also the 10 YO Miles Malmsey is a favourite of mine, sweet, complex and fruity but never cloying. The MWC will sell wines by mail order to private consumers, please see below for an email-address.

Address: Madeira Wine Company S. A., The Old Blandy Wine Lodge (Adegas São Francisco), Departamento de Relações Publicas, Avenida Arriaga 28, P-9000-064 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-740110, Fax 00351-291-740111. Merces Lodge, Rua dos Ferreiros 191, left to the Adegas de Torreao. P-9000-082 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-740100, Fax 00351-291-740101.
Email address for mail order: directsales@madeirawinecompany.com
Website: http://www.madeirawinecompany.com
Also websites for the four remaining brands exist:
Blandy's http://www.blandys.com
Cossart Gordon http://www.cossartgordon.com
Leacock's http://www.leacockmadeira.com
Miles http://www.symington.com/miles/index.html
The Old Blandy's Winelodge has its own website with exact opening hours at http://www.symington.com/winelodge/index.htm

Merces Pictures:

View of the Merces Lodge.

View of the Merces Lodge.

Grapes arrive at Merces (shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel).

Grapes arrive at Merces (shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel).

Maceration tanks at Merces.

Maceration tanks at Merces.

Estufa at Merces.

Estufa at Merces.

Huge storing casks at Merces.

Huge storing casks at Merces.

View of the bottling line.

View of the bottling line.

The Merces laboratory.

The Merces laboratory.

The tasting room at Merces.

The tasting room at Merces.

Bottles waiting to be tasted...

Bottles waiting to be tasted...

Old Blandy’s Wine Lodge Pictures:

Entrance to the MWC.

Entrance to the MWC.

MWC signs.

MWC signs.

Big satinwood casks in the Old Blandy Lodge.

Big satinwood casks in the Old Blandy Lodge.

MWC casks with maturing vintage wine.

MWC casks with maturing vintage wine.

Max Romer tasting room.

Max Romer tasting room.

Passage way.

Passage way.

Vintage tasting room.

Vintage tasting room.

The MWC’s private collection.

The MWC’s private collection.

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. The company used to be run by John Cossart whose father Peter Cossart (the brother of Noel Cossart who wrote "The island vineyard") entered the firm in 1938. Sadly, John died much to early in 2008 and Dr. Humberto Jardim took over as CEO. La Martiniquaise (the owner of Vinhos Justinos Henriques) had bought a small share of Henriques&Henriques before, but in 2012 they acquired the majority of H&H from Dr. Humberto Jardim who remains CEO. The ownership nevertheless will bring some changes. Even though La Martiniquaise plans to keep H&H and VJH as seperate companies, part of the wine making business of H&H will move to the large VJH-site at Canico. There are also plans for a winelodge at Quinta Grande to present the H&H company to visitors and to offer better tasting and selling facilities. 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

H. M. Borges, Sucrs. Lda. = HMB

The company of H. M. Borges, Sucrs. Lda. was founded in 1877. Associated are Adega Exportadora de Vinhos da Madeira, J. H. Goncalvez & Ca., Borges Madeira Lda. and Araújo, Henriques & Ca. Some of these brands are still used today.

H. M. Borges, Sucrs. Lda. today is a small to medium size family company that is still run by the descendents (forth generation) of the founder Henrique Menezes Borges. The current annual production of wine is 2.500 hectolitres, the total storage capacity is 120.000 hectoliters. As with most of the other producers, the company does not own any vineyards, but purchases the grapes from selected farmers in the areas of Estreito de Camara de Lobos, Campanario and Sao Jorge. Pressing, vinification, estufagem and maturing; it is all done in the one building in the Rua de Janeiro 83. The old building used to be a flour mill, but today contains all the winemaking facilities as well as the bottling line, the tasting room, the laboratory and the office.

HMB sign.

HMB sign.

Their most important export markets are Japan, the United States and the countries of the European Community. You can still find the old numbering system of the three year old blends (1, 2, 3) that dates back to the wartime exports to Brazil. The 10 and 15 year old blends are made from the traditional varieties, the 3 and 5 year old wines are made from Tinta Negra Mole. Also, all the wines from Tinta undergo estufagem.

The lodge of H. M. Borges in the Rua 31 de Janeiro.

The lodge of H. M. Borges in the Rua 31 de Janeiro.

H. M. Borges, Sucrs. Lda. is famous for its old vintage wines, but unfortunately most of these wines have been sold out some years ago. They do however offer a few modern vintage wines, as well as a sweet solera from 1940 that I find very attractive. This solera originally belonged to Veiga Franca but was later sold to the Borges company. Also they have a range of Colheita wines. The company does not sell wines by mail order.

The tasting room at HMB.

The tasting room at HMB.

Big storing casks at HMB.

Big storing casks at HMB.

The company would suggest a 5 year old dry or medium dry blend for a beginner with Madeira wine. In my opinion the dry wines of Borges are all rather low in acidity, so even those who do not like the dry Madeira styles so much should give them a try. Borges also plans on extending the colheita style without compromising the vintage wines.

Address: H. M. Borges, Sucrs. Lda., Rua 31 de Janeiro 83, PO Box 92, P-9050-011 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-223247, Fax 00351-291-222281, open monday to friday 9.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. and 2.00 pm - 5.30 p.m.
Email: hmborges@mail.telepac.pt. or info@hmborges.com
Website at http://www.hmborges.com

View of the bottling line.

View of the bottling line.

Packing of the bottles for export.

Packing of the bottles for export.

Artur de Barros e Sousa Lda. = ABSL

The company of Artur de Barros e Sousa, Lda., was founded in 1921. No other brands or companies are associated. The company is today owned by the Olim brothers, Artur and Edmundo, descendants of the company’s founder (fourth generation).

ABSL is the smallest of the Madeira wine producing companies on the island. The current annual production of wine is about 8.000 to 10.000 litres; the total storage capacity is 85.000 to 90.000 litres. Please keep in mind that we are talking litres here, not hectolitres (a hectolitre is 100 litres). As with most of the other producers, the Olim brothers do not own any vineyards on Madeira island, but purchase the grapes from selected farmers in the areas of Jardim da Serra (Sercial), Campanario (Malvasia and Boal) and Sao Vicente (Verdelho). ABSL do own some Listrao Branco vineyards on Porto Santo and they offer a Listrao blend of about 5 years of age. Vinification, maturing and bottling; it is all done in the lodge in the Rua dos Ferreiros 109.

The inconspicuous entrance to ABSL.

The inconspicuous entrance to ABSL.

The lodge has changed but little in the 80 years that it is now used for winemaking. In the IVM museum you will find a historic picture (Nr. 38, Armazém, Artur de Barros e Sousa) that shows the inner yard of ABSL, just looking like today. Artur or Edmundo Olim will be happy to guide you into the three-storey lodge. The smell of the old casks is simply overwhelming. Every time I go there, I feel like a time traveler who goes back a hundred years. In their office you will find an old General Electric radio made in Brazil during World War II, no fax machine and probably the oldest telephone to be found on the island. (OK, I saw Edmundo using a cell-phone, but that was his wife calling him home for lunch!)

View of the tasting room (View the old Brazil-made radio in the window!).

View of the tasting room (View the old Brazil-made radio in the window!).

Their most important market is Funchal, they mainly sell their wine to the people that enter the lodge. The Olim brothers do not really export wine, but if you are a long time customer and order wine by mail, they will probably send it to you. Just write them an email and kindly ask Edmundo's daughter Carlota for prices and shipping rates. None of the wines undergo estufagem. In fact ABSL takes much pride in being the only company to mature all their wines by the traditional canteiro method.

ABSL’s vintage of 2003.

ABSL’s vintage of 2003.

Old casks at the ABSL lodge.

Old casks at the ABSL lodge.

ABSL’s old vintage wines have been sold out some years ago. They do however offer a few modern vintage wines, as well as some old reserve wines that do not bear a specific date. Edmundo will tell you “…this one is about 60 years old, my father made it…” Personally I liked their Moscatel old reserve best, but their younger vintages and colheitas are also very good. The Bastardo Old Reserve and the Terrantez 1979 Vintage are also very interesting. I admit I simply like their old-fashioned way of wine making. I also like the two brothers because you can feel that their heart is into Madeira wine, Artur, who is the wine maker and Edmundo who is the guide, salesman and not to forget the entertainer!

From about 2010 on, it became evident that the Olim Brothers were looking for a way to continue ABSL while at the same time reducing their own involvement. This was in part because of age/health reasons, but also because of financial reasons. In 2013 it was anounced, that D'Oliveiras, direct neighbour to ABSL would buy the smaller company. Fortunately this leaves a chance that the old-style charme of the ABSL company might be conserved in some way, and if only as an expanded tasting and showroom facility.

Address: Artur de Barros e Sousa, Lda., Rua dos Ferreiros 109, P-9000-082 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-220 622, Email: a_b_s_lda@yahoo.com.br or absl@netmadeira.com or coment@vinhosmadeira.com.
Website at http://www.vinhosmadeira.com

Some of ABSL’s old wines.

Some of ABSL’s old wines.

Packing Old Bottles

This chapter is about how to pack old bottles for shipment. One might think that this is an easy thing to do. But, unfortunately, I have received bottles that were packed so badly that they hardly survived - or didn't survive at all. Also a good packing job can reduce the damage if a bottle starts leaking during transport. So the following chapter shows how to pack old bottles for shipment in a secure way. So far none of the bottles packed in this way were broken, even old free-blown bottles survived transatlantic transport.

Securing Of The Bottle Neck
Especially with old bottles that wear a wax cover, it is essential to protect the bottle against leakage during transport. Also these wax covers are very easily broken, so you have to take extra care of them. The same goes for straw covers. I use cellophane to wrap the bottle neck with a few layers. Wrap it in a way that about the half of the cellophane juts out at the top. Then you twist this end a few times and tape it to the bottle neck. Another piece of tape goes around the bottle neck.

After that the whole bottle is put into a plastic bag. This bag is either sealed with a foil-sealer (the kind you use for refrigerator bags) or you seal it with a tight knot. Try to get all the air out of the bag before sealing it. This bag will protect the bottle and its labels from humidity during the transport and also might keep the liquids of a broken or leaking bottle inside to prevent them from affecting any other bottles in the package.

The following pictures show you how to do this:

Wrapping a bottle 1

Wrapping a bottle 2

Wrapping a bottle 3

Packing The Bottle
After putting the bottle into a plastic bag, you might want to wrap it in some layers of bubble-wrap. This depends on how well the bottle fits into the bottle safe. The bottle should not be able to move around inside the bottle safe, but you must not pack it too tightly to avoid putting too much pressure on the bottle.

Bottle and bubble-wrap (note that the wrapping & the bag are missing!)

The bottle is put into a bottle safe i.e. a Styrofoam or cardboard container to transport a bottle. This item usually comes with an additional outer cardboard box.

Bottle safe

Two or more bottle safes are taped together in the most compact way, so they will splint each other.

Taped bottle safes

The bottle safes are again wrapped in a few layers of bubble-wrap which is secured with tape.

Safes in bubble-wrap

Finally the package is wrapped in tough packing paper and some tape or cord is wound around the package. This should do the job for even the roughest transport.

Complete package

(PS: The perfect package shown here was packed by Garrafeira Nacional - good job, guys!)

Funchal Winewalk

This walk features all the important wine locations of downtown Funchal. This means that Silva Vinhos, Henriques & Henriques and Justino Henriques are not in the walk, since they are located outside the city. The walk can be done in both directions and requires about 90 minutes pure walking time, tasting and sightseeing not included. Take a backpack with you to transport the wine, that you will inevitably buy on this walk. You start at the market hall. All city busses stop two roads to the south, so it should be easy to get to the market, even when your hotel is outside Funchal.

Azulejo in the market hall.

Azulejo in the market hall.

Inside the market you will find lots of fruit, fish and wine.

Fruit vendors in the market hall.

Fruit vendors in the market hall.

At least once you have to go inside before 11 o’clock to get into the atmosphere of the market. Take a look at the fish market in the back part of the market hall too. Especially the espada fish and the big slices of tuna are very impressive.

Espadas seen at the fish market.

Espadas seen at the fish market.

Standing in front of the Mercado, we cross the Rua Brigadeiro Oudinot and the Rua do Visconde do Anadia, which frame a small river the Riba de Joao Gomes. Then we walk up the hill on the western side of the Rua do Visconde do Anadia, passing the Anadia Shopping Center. With number 33 you can find the white building of Patricio & Gouveia Sucrs, where embroidery is produced. In the cellar you can also taste Madeira wine (of course!), and buy porcelain and azulejos. In 2003 the company also offered (after some talking about Madeira wine) a thirty year old wine from the family of the owners, said to be matured in the huge casks that can be found in the basement of the building. These bottles do not bear any IVM seal. I wonder if the IVM knows about this…

Patricio & Gouveia Sucrs.

Patricio & Gouveia Sucrs.

We continue up the hill and turn left into the Rua do Carmo that takes a downhill turn. After a few seconds you will see a site with the number 86 on the left side. A shabby house used to be here were Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos used to produce Madeira wine, before they moved the entire company to the industrial park Cancela close to Canico. It's easy to imagine how bad conditions must have been here. The house had been demolished and a new building was being constructed in 2005/2006.

Old building of Vinhos Justino Henriques in the Rua do Carmo.

Old building of Vinhos Justino Henriques in the Rua do Carmo.

The Rua do Carmo continues downhill and meets the Rua Dr. Ferao Ornelas and then the Rua 31 de Janeiro at right angles. Together with the Rua 5 de Outobro another small river, Riba de Santa Luzia, is framed by these two streets. We turn right and walk up the hill again on the Rua 31 de Janeiro. Across the river we can see a castle-like building, the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira.

Instituto do Vinho da Madeira.

Instituto do Vinho da Madeira.

Just before the next junction you will find the building of H. M. Borges Sucrs. on the right side. In this old mill the wine processing, the maturation the bottling, labeling and export is done. In the tasting room you can sip from the blends and buy them. If you are interested in old vintages or soleras you will have to ask for them. Even when it is very hot outside, the room inside is refreshingly cool and you can catch your breath here for a few minutes.

H. M. Borges.

H. M. Borges.

Next stop is the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira, that we saw on our way up. We cross the river and walk the Rua 5 de Outobro down just a short distance, where we find the entrance to the Instituto. In the building you can find the museum with an interesting display of old photographs about Madeira wine. Sometimes they even have wine to taste. Some companies use the storing capacities of the Instituto when their own are used up.

View down the Ribera de Santa Luzia with the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira in the right and H. M. Borges in the left.

View down the Ribera de Santa Luzia with the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira in the right and H. M. Borges in the left.

Up the hill again on the Rua 5 de Outobro, crossing the Rua de Bom Jesus until the next bridge over the river. Turn left and you can see the building of the Adegas de Torreao across the street. In autumn 2003 the building was closed. After the owner Vasco Lojas had died, none of the descendants wanted to take over the business. So in 2006 D'Oliveiras bought the remaining stock of old Madeira wines, amongst them the 1927 Bastardo wine.

Adegas do Torreao.

Adegas do Torreao.

Left to the Adegas you can see the entry to the Merces-Lodge of the Madeira wine Company, easy to read on the big brass plate. The MWC stores some of its wines here that couldn't find a place in the Sao Francisco Lodges.

MWC’s Merces Lodge.

MWC’s Merces Lodge.

We turn and enter the Rua dos Ferreiros, leading down the hill, parallel to the Rua 5 de Outobro that we walked up just a few minutes ago. First we pass the house number 188, located on the left side. This is the old building of the Companhia Vinicola da Madeira. In 2003 only the front wall had remained, the back of the property being used as a parking lot. We then pass the house number 115, located on the right side. This is where the shop of Casa dos Vinhos, associated with Henriques & Henriques used to be, before the company moved to Camara de lobos.

Old building of the Companhia Vinicola.

Old building of the Companhia Vinicola.

Downhill you will find Artur de Barros e Sousa and Pereira D'Oliveira. Visit Barros e Sousa first, not because this company is better, but because you will experience a kind of time travel by doing so. Walking though the door bearing the number 109 you enter the past of Madeira wine production. To the right you see the inner courtyard with its vines and the three-story building where the wines are matured. Artur or Edmundo Olim will give you a sightseeing tour you are unlikely to forget. Everything is done by hand here, and the smell from the old casks is overwhelming and makes you thirsty for a tasting and buying. After that you will be glad for the shade of the vines in the inner courtyard.

Entrance to Artur de Barros e Sousa .

Entrance to Artur de Barros e Sousa .

Just one building to the left Pereira D'Oliveira is located. Here you find the modern face of Madeira wine with a huge tasting room where you can also buy blends and vintages. Pereira D'Oliveira and Barros e Sousa also send wine by mail.

D’Oliveiras.

D’Oliveiras.

We continue down the Rua dos Ferreiros, until reaching the Praca do Municipio with its black and white cobblestones.

Praca do Municipio.

Praca do Municipio.

We turn right and follow the Rua C. Pestana. The third Road to the left is the Avenida Zarco. We walk down this road and meat the Avenida Arriaga at cross angles where we turn right again. In the middle of the Avenida you can find many benches where you can sit in the shade, if the traffic is not too heavy.

Avenida Arriaga.

Avenida Arriaga.

A few steps on, you will find the tourist information on the right side. The entry to the old Blandy wine lodge is next. Enter and ascend the stairs and you find yourself in the heart of the Madeira Wine Company. To the right there is a shop where you can buy souvenirs, to the left you reach another inner courtyard with the Max Romer tasting room and the Frasqueira vintage room. Further on to the right you will find the Arcadas de Sao Francisco with may shops. Twice a day you can join a very interesting sightseeing tour through the building. In the tasting room there is free tasting of the blends, in the vintage room you can taste old vintages against a fee and buy them. Walking back to the Avenida Arriaga again, you will find another shop just left to the entry when standing in front of the building.

Entrance to the Old Blandy Winelodge.

Entrance to the Old Blandy Winelodge.

The tourists with stamina can keep on walking the Avenida in western direction to the Parque de Cristovao Colombo. The street is now called Avenida do Infante, and if you keep on walking it changes names again into the Estrada Monumental.

Vinhos Barbeito.

Vinhos Barbeito.

Follow this road and after 15 minutes you will reach Vinhos Barbeito on the left side, just after you passed the famous Reid's hotel. The low building with the huge chimney hosts the estufas, bottling lines and tasting rooms as well as the sales department. If the walk back seems to long, have a break at the Reid's for the five o'clock tea. Be advised though, that you will not be allowed on the terrace with blue jeans.

Entrance to the Reid’s Hotel.

Entrance to the Reid’s Hotel.

At the western end of the Avenida there is a traffic cycle. To the hill you will find Diogo's Wineshop in the house with the number 48. The shop is an outlet for Vinhos Barbeito but is also well assorted in other wines such as Port wine. The shop also contains the Museu Cristovao Colombo and a private book collection about Madeira wine. We walk back the Avenida on the southern side, the one closer to the harbor and turn right at the first corner into the Rua do Conselheiro Jose Silvestre Ribeiro, leading down to the Avenida do Mar.

Casa do Turista.

Casa do Turista.

On the left side, just at the corner to the Avenida do Mar you will find the Casa do Turista, house number 2. This shop is not only a shop, but also a museum. You can look at and buy embroidery, porcelain, wicker works and wine, bottled by Justino Henriques Vinhos. Sometimes they even have old vintage Madeiras from private island sources for sale.

Palacio de Sao Lorenco.

Palacio de Sao Lorenco.

Down at the Avenida do Mar there are many bus stops in front of the Palacio de Sao Lourenco with busses in all major directions. You can also take a walk on the shore back to the Mercado where we started the walk. In the Mercado there is another wineshop called Garrafeira. If you prefer a rest, just buy a few sweet chestnuts or a Bolo de Caco with garlic butter or sit down in one of the cafes. This is where our walk ends.

Chestnut roaster at Funchal harbour.

Chestnut roaster at Funchal harbour.

We're working on it...

...and made some progress. We re-edited the following chapters:

  • History
  • Types of wine
  • Grape varieties
  • Bibliography
  • Thanks
  • 1795 vintages
  • Producers, Shippers & Co

    Many pictures are still missing, but we are doing our best to get them in soon.

    Also we posted some new chapters:

  • Madeira wine labels
  • Tasting notes
  • Boxes and containers
  • Non-invasive diagnostics

    In these new chapters the pictures are missing too, but if things go well we will post them this weekend!

    Any comments are highly appreciated, so please feel welcome to mail in any typos and corrections - thanks!

  • January 05, 2007

    Producers, Shippers & Co.

    On the island of Madeira there are two types of companies: producers and shippers. Producers make Madeira wine and sell it, shippers just trade the wine. Most of the producers have their seat in Funchal, most of the shippers are located in London. Many international companies that have a Madeira wine in their range of products order one of the original producers to bottle a wine under the company’s name, Sandeman as an example. And there is a third type of company in the wine business, the so-called partidistas, similar to the almacenistas of the Sherry-business. They store and mature wine, but they do not sell the wine directly to the market but to other traders. The following list is in alphabetical order and lists everything that you might find on a bottle or a label besides the grape variety and the year of vintage. A list of known Madeira vintages follows in one of the later chapters; the grape varieties are described in detail a few pages up. 3YO means three years old. The availability of vintages changes daily so I did not list the vintages for sale.

    Not every name will appear in this list. Some landowners bottled wine under their initials, sometimes adding the village or the vineyard. AO-SM as an example means Annibal Oliveira, vineyard owner in Sao Martinho. Especially older vintages used to be traded in cask and were only bottled in their country of destination. The wines were then named after the ship (many famous ship names are included in this list) that transported them, or the trader’s newborn child or whatever. In the US this custom was very common. People named their Madeira wines after anything, wives, lovers, weddings, horse races or horses and the color of the cask. Many of these names you will not find in the list. Also you have to remember that, due to their private character, wines with such an exotic name were always small in number of bottles.

    COMPANIES, SHIPPER, IMPORT BRANDS AND MORE

    ABSL
    See Artur de Barros e Sousa.

    Abudarham, Vinhos Viúva & Filhos Lda. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1934, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Acciaioly, Oskar
    Last member of the Acciaioly family from Florence, Italy, that came to the island in the 16th century. Acciaioly used to export a lot of wine to Russia until 1916; he also exported wine into the Scandinavian countries until the late 1970’s. A lot of the remaining wines were sold in 1989 by Christie’s. Also Barbeito acquired some of the Acciaioly wines and sold the bottled wines with the original label. The wines in cask were later sold under the Barbeito label.

    Adegas Exportadora de Vinhos da Madeira Lda. (Borges)
    Brand of H. M. Borges for 3YO, traded by: Pofuturo, Sociedade Commercial de Bebidas Lda., Sitio do Pico do Cardo, Santo Antonio, P-9000 Funchal. Old address of Adega Exportadora: Rua das Avores 83, Funchal.

    Adelaide
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Agatha
    19th century ship carrying Madeira wine on the India route.

    D'Aguiar, Joao Carlos & Co (also sometimes: & Cia)
    The bottles are sometimes marked with the letters JCA & Co. Company founded by descendants of Diogo Alfonso d'Aguiar. Several bottles known from the 18th and the early 19th century, all bottles where filled before the 1940ies. Whether the company merged with Freitas to form Aguiar Freitas & Ca Lda is not known. According to Patrick Grubb, the d'Aguiar family owns some excellent vineyards around the district of Prazeyres, producing still fine sercial and verdelho.

    Aguiar Freitas & Ca Sucrs. Lda. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1936, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Anderson
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    AO
    See Acciaioly, Oskar.

    AO-SM
    Initials of Anibal D'Oliveira, vineyard owner in Sao Martinho, one of the owners of Pereira d’Oliveira, some old vintages from the 19th and early 20th century still exist. See Pereira d’Oliveira.

    Aspinwall
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Averys
    A long established wine trader in Bristol, Great Britain since 1793. Used to bottle Madeira wines under their own label and imported wines by Cossart Gordon. Averys initiated a first small Madeira renaissance with a large sale of high class vintages in 1956. Today, Averys still trades some wines by D'Oliveiras, but no vintages anymore.
    Address: Averys, Orchard House, Southfield Road, Nailsea, Bristol BS48 1JN, Great Britain, Tel: 01275-811-100, Fax: 01275-811-101.

    Barbeito
    See Vinhos Barbeito (Madeira) Lda.

    Barros, Almeida & Co (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1936, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    de Barros e Sousa Lda., Artur (ABSL)
    See chapter about this company here.

    Bates & Schoonmaker Inc.
    Former US importer for T. T. da Camara Lomelino. Address was: 17 East 42nd Street, New York City.

    Bethune
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Bianchi, Carlo de
    Famous 19th century collector of Madeira wines. He inherited the Lomelino Company after the death of Tarquinio Torquato da Camara Lomelino. C de B are the initials on bottles from his private stock.

    Bianchi's Madeira Lda. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1953, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Blandy's Madeiras Lda. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, founded in 1811, joined in 1934, the premium brand of the MWC, see MWC for address and details.
    Offer: Finest 3Y, Reserve 5Y, Dukes-series 5Y, Special Reserve 10Y, soleras, vintages.

    Borges Sucrs. Lda., H. M.
    See chapter about this company here.

    Borges Madeira Lda.
    Company absorbed in H. M. Borges Sucrs. Lda. I was not able to find out whether the label is still used today.

    Bradley
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Bramin
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Broadbent Selections Inc.
    Please see the chapter about this company here

    Buchanan
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Butler
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Philadelphia.

    C de B
    See Bianchi, Carlo de.

    Cadwaladar
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Philadelphia.

    Camacho, Joao Joaquim
    Associated with Pereira d’Oliveira, see there.

    Camara de Lobos
    Village at the south coast, made famous by Sir Winston Churchill. Centre of the winegrowing region there. The mentioning of Camara de Lobos usually indicates a medium-sweet bual-type of wine.

    Carmo Vinhos Lda.
    Please see Henriques & Henriques Vinhos S.A.

    Carlos Pescador
    Import-brand of Carl Fischer company of Hamburg, Germany in the second half of the 20th century. Funny enough Carlos Pescador is Portguese for Carl Fischer so someone was really witty here. Imported wines were: Velho Extra, Particular, Fine Boal 1926 and Verdelho 1917.

    Carter
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Virginia.

    Casa dos Vinhos da Madeira (H&H)
    Brand of Henriques & Henriques, still used today.
    Old address: Rua dos Ferreiros 125, P-9001 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-236767.

    Catherine Banks
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    CG
    See Cossart Gordon.

    Chairman
    Medium dry blend, brand of Chairmans, London, for the European market. Importer for Germany: Max Burkhardt, Hamburg.

    Challenger
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Charming Martha
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Charming Nancy
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Charming Polly
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Chrisholm
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    Clauzel, A.
    French importer of Madeira wine.

    Coffin
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Comet
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Constitution
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Companhia Regional de Esportacao de Vinhos da Madeira Lda.
    Company taken over by Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda. So far I have only seen one old bottle, bearing a faded label from the beginning of the 20th century and a Boal vintage from 1860. Even though the CEHA states that the label is still used today, I have not been able to verify this.

    Companhia Vinicola da Madeira
    Old address: Rua dos Ferreiros 188, P-9001 Funchal. There is a Terrantez vintage of 1795, some other old vintages and some three year old blends. Associated with Justino Henriques Filhos, see there.

    Cossart Gordon Lda. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, founded in 1745, joined in 1953, see MWC for address and details.
    Offer: Good Company series, Finest 3Y, Reserve 5Y, Special Reserve 10Y, Duo Centenary series 15Y, soleras, vintages.

    CREVML
    Short for Companhia Regional de Exportacao de Vinhos da Madeira Lda, please see there.

    Cunha, E. A. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, out of trade.

    Cunha, J. A.
    See Pereira D'Oliveira.

    CVL
    Initials of Carmo Vinhos Lda., please see Henriques & Henriques Vinhos S.A.

    CVM
    Initials of the Companhia Vinicola da Madeira.

    De Renne
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    DL
    See Lynch, Dominic.

    Donaldson Vinhos & Cia (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1934, probably went out of trade in 1980, but is still used in Japan.

    East India Madeira Co. Lda.
    Associated with Justino Henriques, see there.

    EBH
    Initials of Eugenia Bianchi Henriques, granddaughter of Carlo de Bianchi. See also Bianchi, Carlo de.

    Earthquake
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Espinheiro Madeira
    Medium dry blend, imported for the German market by J. Buxtorf, Wichelhausen & Co, Bremen.

    Fairlie, Captain David
    One of the descendants of the original owners of the Torre Bella estate. Also a well known collector of Madeira wines who had married into the Blandy family. The collection was auctioned off in 1988 by Christie's. Also see Torre Bella.

    Faja dos Padres
    Once the best-known vineyard on the island, situated on sea-level west of the Cabo Girao, the third highest cliff in the world with a height of 580 meters/1900 feet, even though most travel guides will tell you it is the second highest in the world. The highest can be found in eastern Taiwan, being 760 meters/2500 feet high, the second highest is the Preikestolen ("Preacher's stool") in the Lysefjord east of Stavanger, Norway with 600 meters/2000 feet. Until the end of the 19th century the best and most famous Malvasia wines were grown at the Faja dos Padres. Today the new owner of the Faja has replanted some vines, but there is only little wine production so far. However I have seen casks with "Malvasia candida 98/99" on it so I guess there is some hope for the future. You will also find a restaurant, swimming pool and accommodation. There is a new cable car to the Faja (“Teleferico”) going down from Sitio da Rancho, the price was about 8 Euros in 2007 for a round trip. Also at Artur de Barros e Sousa they have a maturing cask with the word "Faja" on it, so they must have been able to obtain some wine from grapes grown at the Faja. Please take a look at the special chapter about a tour to the Faja in the guide to Madeira island here.

    Fame
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Faria J. & Filhos Lda.
    Address: Rua dos Maravilhas 25CC/25D, P-9000 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-742935, Fax 00351-291-742255. Second address is: Adress: Travessa do Tanque, 85 e 87, 9020-258 Funchal, Phone: +351 291 742 935, Fax: +351 291 742 255, Email: jfariafilhos@sapo.pt. Offer: 3YO, 5YO, fruit liquors, Aguadente de Cana.

    Favourite
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Fearing
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Fernandes, Manuel Eugenio
    Said to produce wine by the Canteiro-method. Address and offer unknown, you can find a 3YO in Funchal.

    Ferraz, F. F. & Co (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, founded in 1915, joined in 1937, went out of trade in 1988.

    FFF
    See Ferraz, F. F., I have also seen bottles where the three F letters are shown in a triangular fashion.

    Filipe Vinhos Lda., Antonio
    Company absorbed into Henriques & Henriques Vinhos SA.

    Fitzhugh
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Virginia.

    Flagman
    Medium dry blend, import brand of Eggers & Franke, Bremen, for the German market. Traded by Flagmans Ltd, London.

    Franca & Chagas
    Little wine from this company survived into the 21st century. The Franca family descended from Andre de Franca. His son Joao built the church at Estreito de Calheta in the Camara de Lobos district.

    Freitas, A. de
    So far I have only seen one miniature of this company. Whether this was the starting cell of Freitas Martins Caldeira & Cia Lda I do not know.

    Freitas Branco
    Old company which no longer exists. Some bottles known to exist from the 19th century.

    Freitas Martins Caldeira & Cia Lda (MWC)
    According to the CEHA, this company was taken over by Henriques & Henriques Vinhos SA in 1960, but this I doubt. According to all other sources, especially Alex Liddell and the MWC itself, this company joined the MWC in 1960. The former name was Martins, Caldeira & Cia Lda, the company was then reconstituted under the new name.

    Freitas & Irmao
    Sometimes just Freitas Irmao. The connection to Freitas Branco or Aguiar Freitas is not known. Some wines from the 19th century.

    Funchal Wine Co. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Gadsden
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Charlestown.

    Gaselee, Sir Stephen
    Famous collector of Madeira wines in the 1940ies.

    Gebhard
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Gibbs & Co (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, founded 1857, went out of trade.

    Godard
    German filler of half-dry Madeira miniatures with the name Camara de Lobos. Former address: Godard GmbH, Neuss/Rhein.

    Goelet, P. P.
    U. S. importer and/or collector of Madeira wines in the 19th century, the family also owns Clos du Val in the Napa valley in California and Taltarni in Australia. The large collection seems to have been sold off since some of the bottles surfaced since 2000, though I could not find out where or when. Many of their bottles contain wines that were shipped in cask across the equator, so these bottles bear the ships names like “Brig Twin”, “Francis”, “Juno”, “Rebel” or “Southern Cross”.

    Gomes, Joao Marcello (sometimes MJR Gomes)
    Producer of blends like "pale" or "brown" Madeira, also an "old rich Malmsey" is known, probably out of trade.

    Gomez, Luiz (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, founded in 1868, joined in 1953, probably went out of trade in 1988.

    Gonsalves, A. Izidro
    Nothing known about this producer, except a "seco" vintage from 1890, bottled in Funchal. The name on the bottle is written Gonsalves, instead being written Goncalves like in the other companies bearing that name.

    Goncalves, C. R.
    Company taken over by Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda. According to the CEHA, the label is still used today.

    Goncalves, H. R.
    Company taken over by Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda. According to the CEHA, the label is still used today.

    Gonçalves, J. H. (Borges)
    Brand of H. M. Borges for 3YO, according to the CEHA still used today, distributed by Manuel da Silva Peixoto & Co Lda., 30 Cam. Areeiro, Sao Martinho, P-9000-243 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-772381.

    Gonçalves Lda., P. E.
    Address: Jesus Maria José, 36 Cam. Bela Vista, P-9300-027 Camara de Lobos, Tel 00351-291-942813, Fax 00351-291-941510. Or: Jesus M. Jose, P-9300 Camara de Lobos, Tel 00351-291-941551.
    Probably associated with J. Faria & Filhos, offer not known.

    Gordon
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    Grabham, Dr. Michael & Walther
    Father and son; the father married into the Blandy family and collected Madeira wines.

    Griswold
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Habersham, William Neyle
    Eccentric merchant in Savannah, Georgia, born 1817. He was famous for the strange treatment of his Madeira wines and is said to be the inventor of rainwater Madeira. His huge Madeira wine collection was sold in 1900.

    Henriques & Henriques Vinhos S.A. = H&H
    See chapter about this company here.

    HH
    See Henriques & Henriques Vinhos.

    HMB
    See Borges, H. M.

    Howland
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Huger
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Charlestown.

    Hurricane
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Instituto do Vinho da Madeira
    See Madeira Wine Institute.

    IVBAM
    Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira, the new name of the IVM, the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira. Please see at Madeira Wine Institute.

    IVM
    See Madeira Wine Institute.

    Jackson
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    JCA & Co
    See D'Aguiar, Joao Carlos & Co

    JNV
    See Junta Nacional do Vinho.

    JRT
    See Teixeira, J. R.

    Juno
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Junta Nacional do Vinho
    The JNV was founded in 1937. From 1940 on it controlled the production of Madeira wine in Funchal. The JNV awarded the JNV paper seal that was put over the cork of every bottle of Madeira wine bottled on the island. The first paper seals where just paper stripes with a small printed seal on it, later becoming a unique shape that was copied in the IVM seal. The IVM relieved the JNV in 1980. The JNV wax seal is described in the chapter about old bottles. Different JNV paper seals do exist, some with a small blue JNV sign, some with a complete coat of arms, later copied in the IVM paper seal.

    Justino Henriques
    See Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos.

    JVS
    See Silva, Joao Vicente da

    Kassab, B. A.
    Braheem (or Brahim) A. Kassab; a syrian merchant who collected Madeira Wines at the beginning of the 20th century. His bottles were marked with the seal BAK. A description and picture of the seal can be found in the chapter about old bottles.

    Kopke, C. N.
    Founded in 1638, Kopke is the oldest existing Port wine company, situated in Vila Nova de Gaia. Kopke exported at least a three year old blend through a branch in Funchal. German importer and filler was Cinzano & Cia in Frankfurt/Main.

    Kraus Bros. & Co
    Former US importer for Welsh Brothers. Address was: 18-22 West Street, New York.

    Krohn Brothers Lda. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1951, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Laurens
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Charlestown.

    Leacock & Co (MWC)
    Brand of the Madeira Wine Company, founded in 1760, joined in 1934, address and details see MWC.
    Offer: St. John 3YO, Rainwater, Finest 3Y, Reserve 5Y, Special Reserve 10Y, soleras, vintages.

    Lenox
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Liberty
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Lloyd-O'Donnell-Tilghman
    Famous American collection of Madeira wines.

    LMR
    See Rodrigues, L. M.

    Lomelino, Tarquinio Torquato da Camara (MWC)
    Brand of the Madeira Wine Company, founded in 1820, Portuguese at first then English and joined the MWC in 1936, went out of trade in 1988, but is still used in Belgium.

    Lynch, Dominic = DL
    Madeira wine collecting wine merchant in 19th century New York.

    Madeira Meneres, Sociedade dos Vinhos (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1936, went out of trade in 1980.

    Madeira Victoria & Co (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1936, went out of trade in 1980, but is still used in Holland.

    Madeira Wine Association = MWA
    See Madeira Wine Company.

    Madeira Wine Company S.A. = MWC
    See chapter about this company here.

    Madeira Wine Institute (Instituto do Vinho da Madeira, IVM)
    See chapter about the Institute here.

    Madère de L'Ile
    Blend for the French market imported by A. Clauzel. By the way: note how the label says “Espana y Portugal”, indicating that the wine traded here comes from Spain and Portugal. Also the language on the label is Spanish (like “Vinos” instead of “Vinhos”) which means that this wine comes from Spain. So this is another example of forged Madeira wine.

    Margade
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Martin
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Martins F., Caldeira & Co. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1960, went out of trade in 1988.

    Mary Elisabeth
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    MEF
    See Fernandes, Manuel Eugenio

    Mentor
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Meredith
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Middleton
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Charlestown.

    Miles Madeira (MWC)
    Old name: Rutherford & Miles, brand of the Madeira Wine Company, founded in 1814, joined in 1969, address and details see MWC.
    Offer: Finest 3Y, Reserve 5Y, Special Reserve 10Y, soleras, vintages.

    Mitchell, Silas Weir MD
    Madeira wine collecting physician in 19th century Philadelphia. Mitchell is also famous for his story “A Madeira party”, please refer to the bibliography section.

    Monteiro Vinhos (Just. Henriques)
    Associated with Justino Henriques e Filhos, see there.

    MWA
    Madeira Wine Association, see there.

    MWC
    Madeira Wine Company, see there.

    Nicolas
    Long-time established wine merchant in Paris/France, founded in 1822. The adress is: Nicolas, Siège social 2, Rue de Valmy, Charenton-le-Pont Seine. Even though I have never been there, I have been told, that this Company ownes (or owned) a few casks with old Madeira wine. This wine was bottled and sold in the 1970ies. The only wine known to me is a superb "Brown Madeira" vintage 1835.

    Nobrega, A. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1953, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Oglethorpe
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    D'Oliveira, Aníbal
    See Pereira D'Oliveira.

    Owens-Thomas
    House in Savannah, Georgia, with a small museum. In the cellar you can find a huge collection of Madeira wines with handwritten labels.

    Parkington, J. R. & Co
    Former British importer for Power Drury. Address was: 161 New Bond Street, London W. 1.

    Passos Freitas, Manoel de
    Nothing known about this producer besides a blended Madeira from the 1950ies, the bottle wearing a JNV seal.

    Pereira D'Oliveira Vinhos
    See chapter about this company here.

    Pereira, Vasco Luis
    Company absorbed into Pereira D'Oliveira (Vinhos) Lda.

    Perestrello & Cia Lda
    So far I have only seen two bottles bearing this name. One was a bottle with the remains of a label reading "Madere Reserve Perestrello" bottled in the 1920ies. The bottle was clearly destined for the french market, since the foil-capsule was stamped in Portuguese but the label was written in French. The other one was a stencilled bottle, about the same age. Perestrello is a well-known name on Madeira island, mostly because this family owned the foto-studio that today is named "Foto Museu Vicente" in Funchal. Whether the bottles have any direct connection to the Foto Museu is not known.

    Perry, Matthew, Commodore
    In 1854 Perry's ship "Susquehanna" returned from a trip to Japan, carrying the famous "Japan" Madeira. Later this Madeira was given to The Honourable John P. Kennedy, secretary of the navy. Long after his death 207 remaining bottles were unearthed in his home in 1895.

    Pinckney
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Charlestown.

    Power Drury (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1934, went out of trade in 1988. Nevertheless the brand is sometimes used for 3YO wines.

    Price, William
    Madeira wine collecting wine merchant in 19th century Savannah.

    Pries Scholtz, A. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, probably went out of trade in 1980. Importer for Germany was Bols-Import, Neuss/Rhein.

    Quinta
    Quinta means estate in Portuguese. Many famous wines were bottled under the name of the producing quinta.

    Quinta do Serrado
    Estate in Camara de Lobos owned by the family of Antonio Eduardo Henriques. A large stock of their wines (about 1200 bottles of each, 1827 and 1830) was sold at Christie’s in the late 1980ies.

    Rapid
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Ravenel
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Charlestown.

    Rebel
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Red Jacket
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Rego or de Regos
    This family originated from the Algarve.

    Richmond Packet
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Rodrigues, L. M.
    Only a Bual from 1915 is known to me, some of the bottles marked with a JNV-REF seal on the reddish wax cover. The wax cover also carries a "Di" seal on top. Some of the bottles carry a small paper label indicating that the wine had been bottled by Cossart Gordon.

    Royal Madeira Company (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1936, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Rozès
    Import company for the French market, founded in 1855 by Ostende Rozès. The company was sold to Vranken Monopole in 1999 and does no longer trade with Madeira wine. Port wines are still available though. Former address in Funchal: Rozès Lda., Rua San Pedro 18, Funchal. Former address in Bordeaux: Ed. Rozés, 20 Rue Raze, Bordeaux.

    RT
    See Teixera, Rodrigues.

    Rutherford & Miles (MWC)
    See Miles.

    Rutledge
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Charlestown.

    Sandeman
    The global player Sandeman used to offer a range of Madeira blends with an age of 3, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 plus years, but today (2008) they only offer a three year old "Fine Rich" and a three year old "Rainwater". The wines are sourced from Henriques & Henriques under the Casa dos Vinhos brand. The bottles bear the Sandeman label with the typical "Don" icon.

    Santa Luzia (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC for the market in Finland.

    Sarmento, José
    Import company for the French market, probably no longer existing. Former Bordeaux address: Union Europeene d'Importation. 136 Quai des Chartrons, Bordeaux, France.

    Scheley
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    Schenley Import Corporation
    Former importer for Power Drury for the US. Address was: 18 West 40th Street, New York.

    Seager, Evans & Co.
    Used to be the London importers for Blandy's. Old address: 20 Queen Anna's Gate, London S. W. 1.

    Shortridge Lawton & Co, Vinhos (MWC)
    Brand of the Madeira Wine Company, founded in 1757, joined in 1934, probably went out of trade in 1988. Wines are sought after by collectors since they were one of the last wines to be matured by the traditional sea voyage.

    Silva Vinhos Lda
    Founded in 1990 by the Silva brothers Joao Alexandre and Jose Olavo, went out of trade in 2002 after bankruptcy. As the company had been founded, the owners had also bought the rights for the Veiga Franca brand, but as far as I know, they had never used it for new vintages or even soleras.
    Old address: Sitio da Igreja, Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, P-9300 Câmara de Lobos, Tel 00315-291-945810, Fax 00351-291-945199.
    Offer: 3Y, 5Y and 10Y. Some old Veiga Franca vintages and soleras are still available from private sources and auctions.

    Silva Lda, Joao Vicente da
    Company founded in 1921 by the father of the Silva brothers who in 1990 founded Silva Vinhos Lda. Joao Vicente da Silva mainly worked as a partidista, but at least a blended Verdelho wine from the 1950ies or 1960ies is known.

    Socieda Agricola da Madeira (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, founded in 1928, joined in 1937, went out of trade.

    Spence-Symington
    Famous American collection of Madeira Wines.

    Spinola, J. B. (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1936, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    de Sousa, Manoel, Herdeiros Lda.
    Brand of a ca. 30 year old Madeira wine, sold at Patricio and Gouveia Lda., the embroidery company. They say that this wine comes from the owner’s family and has been matured for more then 30 years in the old casks lying in the basement of the building, right in the tasting room. These bottles do not bear any IVM seal. Also I have seen a Moscatel vintage from 1900 with the initials MSH.

    Southern Cross
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Star of Bengal
    19th century ship carrying Madeira wine on the India route.

    Success
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Susquehanna
    19th century ship of Commodore Matthew Perry, transporting the famous "Japan" Madeira back to the United States in 1854, see Perry.

    Tartar
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Taylor, W. A. & Co.
    Used to be the U.S. importers for Blandy's. Also marketed Madeira wine under their own name. Old address: 12-13 Laight Street, NY.

    Teixeira, J. R. (also written Teixera in some catalogues)
    Descendant from one of the captains that sailed with Zarco when he claimed Madeira island for Portugal. An 1863 Boal and a 1870 Boal were auctioned at Christies some years ago. J. R. stands for Joao Romao. Bottles are stencilled with JRT.

    Teixera, Rodrigues
    Bottles sometimes just marked with RT, another member of the Teixera family.

    Teixera, Roques
    Only one wine from the 19th century known. The family of Tristao Vaz Teixera settled on the north side of the island. By the 19th century they had established themselves as merchants, so there probably is a connection with Joao Romao Teixera (=JRT).

    Telfair
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    Thomas, Doug
    Famous American collector of Madeira wines. Thomas lived in Baltimore from1847 to 1919 and was president of the Merchants Bank. Being a well-known wine connoisseur, he celebrated six famous Madeira wine tastings over a 17-year period. His collection of old Madeira wines was one of the largest in the US.

    Three Deacons
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Torre Bella
    The Torre Bella estate, meaning beautiful tower in Portuguese, owned by the family of the Visconde de Torre Bella, featured many of the largest and most famous vineyards of the island. Since the 1970ies the estate has been divided into many small parts, no significant winegrowing is done here anymore. Also see Fairlie, Captain David.

    Torreão Vinhos, Adegas do
    Address: Rua dos Ferreiros 215, P-9001 Funchal, Tel 00351-291-221937. The building was closed when I visited in 1999 and 2003 and seemed uninhabited. The company used to produce a wide variety of wines including vintages and -according to Liddell- was said to go back into trade in 1996. According to the latest information however the company went bankrupt. In 2003 you could still buy some 10 year old blends in shops on the island. Also a few vintage wines can still be obtained from shops, auctions or private sources. In 2006 most of the remaining wines (amongst them the famous 1927 Bastardo) were sold to Pereira D'Oliveira, who also seem to have taken over the premises in the Rua dos Ferreiros. Since Vasco Loja, the owner of the Adegas died and none of the descendants wants to continue, the chapter on the Adegas seems to be finally closed.

    Townsend
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Travers
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century New York.

    Twins
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Two Sisters
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Uniao Vinícola (Funchal) Lda.
    Makes the East India Madeiras (Rainwater and London particular) for the East India Company Lda. Associated with Justino Henriques, see there. U.S. importer is World Shippers & Importers Co. in Philadelphia.

    Vasconcelos, Casa dos Vinhos (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1951, probably went out of trade in 1980.

    Veiga França
    Old address: Avenida Arriaga 73, P-9000 Funchal
    The company closed a few years ago, due to financial problems. Some old bottles are still available. The brand was bought by Silva Vinhos, see there.

    Vieira, Dr. Manuel Jose
    Some wine known from the 19th century. According to Patrick Grubb, the Doctor's vineyards produced some of the finest sercial.

    Vinhos Barbeito (Madeira) Lda.
    See chapter about this company here.

    Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos
    See chapter about this company here.

    VJH
    See Vinhos Justino Henriques, Filhos, Lda.

    Voigt, L. R.
    Former British importer for Leacock. Address was: 24-25 Great Tower Street, London E. C. 3.

    Wagner, John
    Former US importer in Ivyland, Pennsylvania for the MWC, bottled Madeira wine under his own label.

    Walters, Henry
    Famous American collection of Madeira wine in Baltimore. The collection was auctioned off by the widow of the former owner in 1943.

    Wanderer
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Wayne
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    Welsh Brothers (MWC)
    Brand of the MWC, joined in 1934, went out of trade in 1980, but is still used in Japan.

    Widow
    19th century ship transporting Madeira wine to the United States.

    Wile Sons. Julius & Co
    Former US importer for Leacock. Address was: 2 Park Avenue, New York.

    Wilder
    Madeira wine collecting family in 19th century Savannah.

    Wine Society Ltd., The
    British company in Stevenage SG1, Gunnels Wood Road, founded in 1874, some old vintages bottled by the MWC.


    Wooden cases, cardboard boxes and bottle containers

    Wooden cases

    As most wines of higher quality do, Madeira wines used to be traded and shipped in wooden cases of 12 bottles. First this was for practical reasons since the long oversea transport raised the need for extra protection of the bottles. Second this also added to the high quality image of the wine. Initially those cases were made of wicker since durable wood was needed for building. Later the wood was imported and the production of wooden cases started.

    Making of wicker boxes, shown at the I.V.M.

    Making of wicker boxes, shown at the I.V.M.

    Bottles and wooden cases at Blandy's, shown at the I.V.M.

    Bottles and wooden cases at Blandy's, shown at the I.V.M.

    Due to the somewhat shorter and more compact shape of the Madeira bottles, these boxes also were more compact in size then today's standard wooden wine case like used for Californian or French reds. The case usually featured the name of the producer, the name of the importing company and sometimes even some information about the wine inside the case. The cases were either branded or stenciled or both. The two following pictures show two cases of Power's and Barbeito, each to contain 12 bottles, additionally protected by a straw filling (The Power case even contained some original straw when I got it). The cases also show the name of the importer and the Power's case gives you the name of the wine (Sercial 1900).

    Wooden cases 1

    Wooden cases 1.

    Wooden cases 2

    Wooden cases 2.

    Interestingly both cases feature some sort of sealing to prevent tampering with the cases contents. Whether this was really because of a realistic risk or more for image reasons I can not tell. The Power's case top bears the remains of a wax seal that covered a wire going around the case to secure it from being opened. Note the vertical impression of the case front just above the letter "R" made from the wire. Any attempt to open the case would have resulted in destruction of the seal or the wire. To protect the seal from damage during transport, the seal itself was covered with a round metal cover that had been hammered into the case top. The impression of this cover is still visible on the case top.

    Wax seal on case.

    Wax seal on case.

    The Barbeito case features a different sealing. Every edge of the case had been secured with small driven metal seals. Any attempt to open the case would have destroyed some of these seals.

    Metal seals on case.

    Metal seals on case.

    Cardboard boxes

    Unfortunately today most of the Madeira wine comes in cheap cardboard boxes. In my opinion this reduces the good image of Madeira wine. One might think, that if you buy a complete case of vintage Madeira, the extra cost for a wooden case would not really matter. But to my knowledge none of the existing producers uses wooden cases anymore. Due to stability reasons cardboard boxes contain 3 by 4 bottles of wine standing upright instead of lying like in the wooden cases. This also makes them more compact and easier to arrange for transport on a pallet.

    Cardboard boxes on pallets at Merces lodge.

    Cardboard boxes on pallets at Merces lodge.

    Bottle containers

    Today the only wood you will get is a wooden bottle container. Image being the main reason for this container, it also serves quite well as a protective cover during the flight home. Make sure that the wax cover of the bottle is wrapped in some extra paper or bubble wrap since the bottle tends to move a little inside the wooden container thereby damaging the wax cover. I always take my socks to cover the bottle top and stuff out the extra space in the bottle container. Also this means more extra space in the suitcase to pack in that extra bottle.

    Bottle containers at Loja dos Vinhos.

    Bottle containers at Loja dos Vinhos.

    Non-invasive diagnostics

    Yes, I admit, the following stuff all sounds pretty medical. But one of the basic needs of the collector of old wine bottles is to find out more about the state of the wine inside the bottle. The problem is that you don't really want to open the bottle. Too many people do not understand the need of recorking and so they might think that an opened and recorked bottle has been tampered with. So how can you assess the condition of the wine inside the bottle without having to open it?

    You will not be able to change the conditions of storing that the bottle had been submitted to before you got it. But you can take care that the bottle will be stored in the best of conditions from now on. Even though Madeira wine does not depend so much on excellent storing conditions like other wines, you are well advised to store it in a cool place with a medium humidity. Before you rest your precious Madeira bottle for the next decades you will have to check the cork. This is the most important fact that is immediately responsible for the development of the wine once it has been bottled. It is almost impossible to determine the condition of the cork's material itself without extracting it from the bottle. I have tried to asses the structure of corks still in bottles with medical ultrasound but this proved to be rather unreliable. Also you have to remove the foil or wax cover to do this. You can try to asses the cork by examining the surface of the cork, but again this means you have to remove the cover. All this alters the original state of the bottle, something you would only do if you knew you really had to recork it. What you can do however is determining the length of the cork. The longer the cork, the higher the probability that it will survive the next years without loosing its ability to seal the bottle. If you can see the cork through the glass of the bottle neck everything is fine. Taking a picture with a camera with a flash will light the cork in a good way to determine its length.

    Flashed cork in a bottle neck.

    Flashed cork in a bottle neck.

    But what do you do when the cork is hidden under foil, wax, paper or a straw cover? The best way then to determine the length of the cork is x-raying the bottle neck. With the right exposure it is possible to find out about the length of the cork even under a lead capsule.

    It might take two or three shots to get the right exposure but I guess your bottle really doesn't worry too much about radiation. The first example below shows a very short stopper cork covered by a lead foil capsule. The second shot shows a medium sized cork covered by paper. In both examples the original state of the bottle has been maintained. And by the way: can you see the level of wine in the second picture? There are Madeira bottles so dark that it is hard to determine the level of wine in the bottle, x-rays help get the information.

    X-rays of a short cork under lead capsule.

    X-rays of short cork under lead capsule.

    X-rays of medium sized cork under paper cover.

    X-rays of medium sized cork under paper cover.

    About Old Bottles

    THE MADEIRA BOTTLE
    Madeira bottles tend to come in many shapes and sizes. The modern bottles are often not as heavy anymore as they were like until the 1960ies, and in my opinion the color of the glass also has gone to the brighter side. There are two main shapes of bottles: Burgundy-shaped bottles and Bordeaux-type bottles, the latter often with a little bulge in the bottle neck. There are also many other shapes or variations of the two main shapes, especially when it comes to hand blown bottles. Before 1900 the bottles were sometimes stronger in thickness.

    Fat free blown bottle in the MWC museum.

    Fat free blown bottle in the MWC museum.

    The color of the typical Madeira wine bottle is often a dark green, but there is almost any color possible, you can even find a few clear glass bottles. All in all this variety shows, that bottling Madeira wine obviously was a day to day business and it also reflects the sometimes poor and hard conditions of wine making.

    HISTORY OF BOTTLE MAKING
    Free-blown bottles
    Until the 19th century the method of blowing a piece of molten glass with a pipe and some other simple devices into the shape of a bottle was the only way to produce wine bottles. There was of course the method of casting, where you simply heated the glass to a higher temperature and then let the liquid glass run into a mold where it cooled down. But the molds where rather roughly shaped and the extra amount of heating material needed to liquefy the glass made the method of casting unsuitable for the production of higher numbers of any containers made of glass. You could also blow the molten glass into an outer mold, so that the shape was assumed quickly and the variations between two containers became smaller. In the end of the 19th century then, the method of pressing was developed to perfection and the industrial production of bottles began.

    Rotating a piece of molten glass to force it into a cylindrical shape.

    Rotating a piece of molten glass to force it into a cylindrical shape.

    Because of the method, the size and shape of free-blown bottles vary greatly. Since the process of blowing includes rotating the piece of molten glass, you can often (not always) recognize some circular patterns in the glass that result from the rotation. Tiny bubbles within the glass can also be a sign of a handmade bottle. The strength of the bottle wall may vary from top to bottom, visible by small variations of transparency of the colored glass. Also hand blown bottles tend to have a relatively long neck when compared to molded or machine made bottles. Sometimes you will find a sign on the bottle, but normally the bottle is void of any markings.

    Attaching the punty rod to the base of the glass container.

    Attaching the punty rod to the base of the glass container.

    Pre-Industrial Manufactured Bottles
    As said above, you could blow the molten glass into a mold, thereby shaping the outside of the glass container. This was done manually at first, later there where automated blowing machines that used molds and the blowing technique to make bottles. The molds where usually made of three parts, sometimes even four parts. The bottles are easy to recognize from the rather rough seams where the parts of the mold got together.

    Three part molded bottle.

    Three part molded bottle.

    If you take a close look, you might also find signs of tension in the glass of the bottle neck, like stripes or long bubbles in the glass, following the direction of the bottle neck. This resulted from the hot glass being retracted a little from the mold to form the bottle neck and the opening. Most of these bottles also had a pontil mark since they still had to be held at the bottom while the lip was formed manually or with a lipping tool.

    Ground pontil mark.

    Ground pontil mark.

    Tooled lip of a molded bottle.

    Tooled lip of a molded bottle.

    Bottles Of Industrial Make
    After the method of pressing had been perfected, bottles where made by pressing a piece of molten glass into an iron mold with the help of a plunger. This still left the problem of the bottom and neck, but very soon that was solved by a combination of the pressing method with the blowing method. Todays bottles are produced by blowing machines in large quantities from all kinds of glass mixtures. The main ingredients are silica and carbonates as well as different colorings and stabilizers. It is only in the 20th century that bottles bear letters and numbers that specify anything from the volume to the producer and the EU sign. Machine made bottles also often have some indents so that they can be easier rotated by the machines. Dots or lines on the bottom are readable for scanners in the factory.

    I have seen some 20th century bottles bearing the producers initials or seal in the glass. Whether this is also found in pre-industrial bottles I can not tell, since I have never seen any seals on this type of bottle. However the number of dropouts from the hand blowing method or the semi-automated blowing method was already high enough, so I imagine that the producers did not want to risk any more bottles with fancy decoration procedures.

    THE DATING OF OLD BOTTLES
    To date an old bottle you have to look at three details:

  • Side seams
  • Lip (often difficult to see through the sealing wax or foil cover)
  • Bottom

    Looking at these details it is possible in most cases to date your bottle to a certain period of time. Changes in bottle manufacturing took place over years, so at certain periods of time there were different bottle types in use. As a result of these overlapping periods all time-spans given are approximate. This is just a simplified guide to the dating of antique bottles. If you want to get into detail please take a look at one of the websites that can be found in the bibliography section.

    Different bottle types in chronological order:
    Free blown bottle (before 1860)

    Free blown bottle.

    Uneven shape
    No seams, maybe circular patterns
    Pontil mark at base. The open pontil mark resulted from the punty rod used to hold the bottle during the making of the lip. Sometimes this rough area had been polished or heated again. This is called a ground pontil. Later iron pontils were used, leaving a brown or red iron residue at the base. (open pontil before 1860, iron pontil 1850 – 1870)


    3 part mold (1830 – 1870)

    Three part mold bottle.

    Even shape
    Circular seam at the shoulder, two seems going up the bottle neck
    Crudely applied lip or tooled lip
    Pontil mark at base (open pontil before 1860, iron pontil 1850 – 1870) or molded smooth base


    Blown in mold with applied lip (before 1870)

    Bottle blown in mold with applied lip.

    Even shape
    two side seams
    (Crudely) applied lip
    Pontil mark at base (open pontil before 1860, iron pontil 1850 – 1870) or molded smooth base from 1870 on


    Blown in mold with tooled lip (1880 – 1910)

    Bottle blown in mold with tooled lip.

    Even shape
    two side seams
    tooled lip with concentric ring pattern below (caused by the rotated lipping tool)
    smooth base with or without seams (diagonal or circular)


    Blown in mold and rotated (1900 – 1920)

    Bottle blown in mold and rotated.

    Even shape
    No side seams, maybe small circular patterns around the bottle from the rotating of the bottle in the mold
    Tooled lip
    Smooth base with or without seems (diagonal or circular)


    Machine made bottle (from 1900 on)

    Machine made bottle.

    Even shape
    Two side seems running through the top of the lip
    From 1920 almost every bottle was made by an automated bottle machine
    Machine made bottles always have smooth bases
    Early machine made bottles feature a circular mark on the base: the Owens ring.


    THE LABELING
    Stencils

    Most of the Madeira bottles bear a few white letters. These are seldom painted by hand; usually they are applied with the help of a stencil. I have only seen one bottle where they had used a reddish brown as the stenciling color, but for a number of reasons this bottle was almost certain a fake. In the following pictures you can see Edmundo Olim of ABSL stenciling a bottle.

    Edmundo Olim of ABSL paints the bottle with the help of a stencil.

    Edmundo Olim of ABSL paints the bottle with the help of a stencil.

    The stencil is removed and the bottle is finished.

    The stencil is removed and the bottle is finished.

    The labeling of bottles containing vintage Madeira wines differs from that of other wines. While even the blends carry the usual paper-made label, there is none on the vintage bottles, except maybe a very small one on the back, indicating the alcohol content and so on. The front side of the bottle carries a few letters, painted directly on the dark glass. This used to be done by hand, but is nowadays made with stencils, or the bottles come pre-printed from the factory. The black-and-white contrast gives the vintage Madeira wines a unique feature, a little minimalist perhaps, but very appealing. With some old vintages though, the lettering can be so short, that it will be difficult to find out, what the contents of the bottle exactly are. Sometimes a date of year and the initials of the producer will be all there is, maybe a letter for the grape variety too. The letters "B 1936 HMB" as an example will indicate a 1936 Boal vintage produced by H. M. Borges.

    There are a few vintages with paper labels too. Usually these were bottled in the country of destination. So the label sometimes even came in the consumer’s language. The problem with these paper labels however is, that they are nowadays often in poor condition. It can be pretty hard to tell what the label says.

    Old vintage bottles with the typical stencils, seen at the Casa do Turista.

    Old vintage bottles with the typical stencils, seen at the Casa do Turista.

    Paper Labels
    As said above, vintages that were bottled in their country of destination will sometimes carry a paper-made label instead of being stenciled. Also some modern day vintages, mostly for the US market, carry a front paper label but the back is also stenciled. This might give the consumer more information, but in means of style I think it an incongruity. Also on some bottles the year of the vintage is supplied on an extra label. This was probably for economic reasons, since the producer could use the same basic label on all his different vintages and only had to change the printing for the small vintage label. Another way of economic use of paper labels was to have the labels printed with a free space for the vintage year and/or grape variety. This information would then be stamped onto the label when the wine was being bottled. The gluing of the labels is remarkably enduring in most cases. If you store your bottles in a very humid cellar though, the labels might come off. I have tried different types of spray glue, clear varnish and other things like plastic wrapping. Wrapping the entire bottle in a clean transparent plastic bag (the kind used for freezing food) seems good to me. The best thing still is to store your Madeira wine bottles in a cool and not to humid place, upright of course.

    The two different ways of labeling a Madeira wine side by side.

    The two different ways of labeling Madeira wine side by side.

    Back Labels
    Especially in the U.S. but also in other countries, vintages and soleras will often carry a back label. This is where the importer, the shipper, the alcohol content and other data like the U.S. health warning is given. Also the back label sometimes offers information about the origin of the wine and the date it was bottled or rebottled.

    Back label of the famous Barbeito 1795 Terrantez last bottling.

    Back label of the famous Barbeito 1795 Terrantez last bottling.

    Additional Papers
    Sometimes you will find a small paper tag hanging from a cord around the bottle neck or being sealed to the top of the bottle. This tag supplies additional information about the producer like the exact address. Also sometimes you will get your bottle together with a proof of authenticity, usually some very grandiose and colorful piece of paper. The MWC as an example gives the buyer of old vintage wines a sealed document that guarantees the age and origin of the wine.

    Paper tag of D'Oliveiras.

    Paper tag of D'Oliveiras.

    Echtheitszertifikat=Proof of authenticity.

    Echtheitszertifikat=Proof of authenticity.

    Revenue Stamp
    Revenue stamps are sometimes glued on top of the paper label or on the bottle neck.

    Revenue stamp.

    Revenue stamp.

    ABOUT BOTTLE NAMES
    Usually the bottle bears the grape name. Especially in the U. S. however, it was custom to give some special Madeira wine an extra name. This name could have any meaning. It was common to name the wine after the ship that brought it over from Madeira, or that had the wine on board on the round trip before the invention of the estufagem process (see: making of). But the wines would also be named after wives (or lovers), the birth of the long awaited son, a winning horse at the races or even the color of the cask that the wine was kept in. In some names it is impossible to find out the meaning nowadays. I have once had a discussion about a Madeira wine called “hurricane”. After some research the origin of the name could be found. The wine had been shipped to the U.S. aboard the South Carolina based ship “Hurricane” owned by the Blake family in the 19th century. In fact “Hurricane Madeira” was quite famous. William Neyle Habersham, who was probably the Madeira wine authority of his days in the second half of the 1900th century, had some “Hurricane Madeira” in his huge collection.

    Before it became common to name the grape variety on the bottle, the wines were also often just named after the district in which the grapes had been grown. Names like this could be “Camara de Lobos” (or “Cama de Lobos”), “Campanario”, “Sao Martinho” and so on.

    Especially with the reduced availability of grapes after the Phylloxera, it often happened that the wines were just labeled as “fine” or “genuine”. This usually indicates that the wine is a mixture of grape varieties.

    CORK, CAP AND COVER
    The cork

    The cork can be astonishingly short. Sometimes the only thing that keeps the wine from running out is the wax cover. So-called stopper corks were obviously very common. If the cork is not covered by wax, foil or a wicker cap you should take a good look at it. Any visible damage of the cork and especially any visible remains of insects or maggots should keep you from buying the wine. Again: Madeira wine should be kept in an upright position. The often rather cheap corks are just another good reason to do so. Branded Madeira corks are very rare, I have only seen a few examples.

    Comparison of the usual short Madeira cork (left) to a Sauternes cork.

    Comparison of the usual short Madeira cork (left) to a Sauternes cork.

    Stopper corks compared to normal corks.

    Stopper corks compared to normal corks.

    Remains of cork maggots.

    Remains of cork maggots.

    Example of a branded cork from a 1835 Brown Madeira Imperiale bottled by Nicolas, Paris.

    Example of a branded cork from a 1835 Brown Madeira Imperiale bottled by Nicolas, Paris.

    The Wicker Cap
    Some bottles carry a small wicker cap over the cork. Under the wicker cap the cork is usually wrapped in a little piece of paper and also often covered with wax. The use of wicker caps stopped in the 1980ies apart from some cheap 3YO and 5YO still being sold in wicker.

    Wicker cap of an 1878 Madeira wine.

    Wicker cap of an 1878 Madeira wine.

    The Wax Cover
    The corks are usually covered with sealing wax. Often the shipper or producer has imposed the company's seal on the wax cover. Make sure that the wax cover is not broken. If it is, there is a higher risk of evaporation from the bottle, so if you do intend to keep the bottle, either have it re-corked or at least close the cracks with some drops of wax from a non-perfumed candle.

    Shipper's wax seal of Manuel de Sousa Herdeiros Lda.

    Shipper's wax seal of Manuel de Sousa Herdeiros Lda.

    THE LEVEL OF WINE IN THE BOTTLE
    Most of the times you will be able to see the level of wine inside the bottle. If the bottle is to dark to get a good look, be it because of the dark glass or of deposits on the glass try to hold a flashlight behind the bottle. The level of wine is important because it can give you information about the time span the wine spent in the bottle and will also allow you to assess the risk of buying a wine gone bad. The space between the lower end of the cork and the level of wine is called ullage. The greater the ullage the more oxygen is inside the bottle. Even Madeira wine can become dried out and the risk is higher for old bottles with a great ullage. Often you can not see the lower end of the cork due to the wax cover so you have to estimate the ullage. You can also compare the level of wine with the shoulder of the bottle (most Madeira wine bottles have one; this does not work with burgundy shaped bottles of course). The following description was first invented by Christie’s Michael Broadbent and is commonly used today.

    Into neck: this means the level of wine is still in the bottle neck, no need to recork the wine, very low risk.

    High shoulder or top shoulder: the level of wine has reached the upper curve of the shoulder, no need to recork the wine, still no risk, if the bottle was kept under normal conditions you would expect a bottle age of about 15 to 25 years.

    Mid shoulder: the level of wine has reached the middle of the shoulder; you should have your bottle recorked. There is some risk that the wine has gone bad, the age of the bottle should be about 20 to 40 years.

    Low shoulder: the wine has reached the lower end of the shoulder; the bottle needs to be recorked. There is a serious risk of buying a bad wine. The estimated bottle age is more then 30 years if the bottle was stored under normal conditions.

    Below shoulder: the level of wine is below the shoulder, the bottle needs to be recorked. There is a high risk that the wine has gone bad.

    If you should decide to have a bottle recorked it is important to bring the level of wine back to normal to reduce the amount of oxygen inside the bottle. This is done by putting small sterile glass balls into the bottle. Also you should take a small sample from the wine to estimate its ability for further storing. Even though Madeira wine seems virtually indestructible it can dry out after a long time. Should you decide to do the recorking yourself you will find all the information needed in the chapter about the recorking of old bottles.

    OTHER SEALS AND SIGNS ON THE BOTTLE
    Markings in the glass

    Some bottles that were produced especially for the shipper bear on the glass the initials of the filling company or the year of the foundation or some other sign of the shipper. Also the name of the producing company is sometimes written on the bottle as a relief. The old bottles of Henriques & Henriques are an example for that.

    Old Henriques & Henriques bottles with the company name on it.

    Old Henriques & Henriques bottles with the company name on it.

    Paper Seals of the JNV or the IVM
    The Junta Nacional do Vinho and since the 1980ies the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira issue a paper seal that is glued across the cork to ensure some minimal standard of quality and authenticity. Please refer to the chapter "Producers, Shippers & Co" for details.

    The JNV Wax Seal
    Some wines bear a small brown seal with the letters JNV and REF in a rectangular frame. This seal was issued in the beginning of the 1960ies by the Junta Nacional do Vinho da Madeira, if they saw an old vintage as authentic. This seal does not offer a hundred percent certainty, but is reason for some trust and probably a higher price. The seal is usually applied on the bottle top or an the neck partially covering the foil cap and the glass, thus preventing any attempts of tampering with the bottles contents. There are also two much rarer versions of the JNV seal. Both seals have a round shape and the diameter is about 1 inch or 2,5 centimeters. So far I have only seen fragments of the first round version, but with some help I was able to reconstruct it. The reconstruction is shown below. The second round version is of the same size, but features only the JNV coat of arms with a number below. The wax used comes in different colors, brown, black and even a reddish brown is used.

    JNV-REF seal.

    JNV-REF seal.

    Alternative JNV seal, first version.

    Alternative JNV seal, first version.

    Alternative JNV seal, second version.

    Alternative JNV seal, second version.

    The Kassab Seal
    Braheem (sometimes written Brahim) A. Kassab was a Syrian embroidery merchant who collected Madeira wines early in the 20th century. His personal seal “BAK” was put on all his bottles. The remains of the collection were auctioned off by Christie’s in 1986. The Kassab seal is put on top of the cork, filling the whole diameter of the top.

    Kassab seal BAK.

    Kassab seal BAK.

    SEDIMENTS AND CRUSTING
    In an old vintage or solera there are always some sediments and crusting. They do not affect the taste of the wine, but a bottle can become so crusted, that you can not see through it. After transport, the sediments are stirred up, so you should allow them to settle for a day before you open the bottle. Better than decanting is filtering the wine. Please refer to the chapter on how to serve Madeira wine for more details. The crusting that covers the glass from the inside can give you information about how the bottle was stored. The following picture shows a bottle that had been stored in an upright position. Note how the crusting starts at the former level of wine in the bottle neck.

    Crusting in the bottle neck.

    Crusting in the bottle neck.

    THE SELLER
    The most important clue to the authenticity of an old bottle is the seller. A serious seller is likely to sell a serious bottle - this sounds too obvious to be mentioned, but it is an important fact that many people seem to forget, when they see an offer to good to resist. In my experience the producers on the island of Madeira are absolutely trustworthy when it comes to old bottles. This is also true for the well established shops like Diogo´s, Garrafeira, Loja dos Vinhos or others.

    Private island sources are of a higher risk of course, but I would still tend to rate them as rather serious. Bottles can sometimes be rather cheap, but since there is usually no proof or documentation of the old bottles, this is the bonus for the risk-taker. Bottles from private sources are sometimes in a really bad shape, so check them first. Look for a wax cover over the cork, check the bottle for cracks and anything unusual. After all, the bottle still has to make it through the flight back home.

    The same is to be said about well-established wine shops with a good reputation. The risk here lies more in the fact that they had to get the bottle from somebody else in the first place. So my advice would be to ask the seller about the origins of the bottle, if he dealt with this source before, what experience he had with the source and so on.

    Another reliable source for old bottles are auctions by the well established auction companies. They usually check the reliability of the source themselves and are able to give you an expert's opinion about the bottle (Christie’s Michael Broadbent is the best example - read his wine notes, there are some very interesting Madeira wines among them!). Internet auctions are something completely different. The bottles are often auctioned off by private sellers, so there are no guarantees whatsoever. You can't even really see the bottle before buying it; often a tiny, hazy, low resolution picture is all you can get. I have seen bottles that where obviously faked being sold on the Internet. Also be aware that buying alcohol via the Internet is not legal in some countries as is shipping of alcoholic beverages!

  • Tasting Notes

    For a long time I was very uncertain about posting tasting notes. My experience with wine in general is limited, I only consider myself a Maderia wine amateur. Also I think that tasting is something very personal and wines that I like do not necessarily have to please other people's palates. On the other hand since the amount of old bottles of Madeira wine is getting smaller all the time, I would like to share my tasting notes nevertheless. They might help with a buying decision, assist in your own tasting and last but not least some wines might not easily be tasted again since there are simply just few bottles (or even none) left.

    Any feedback on the tasting notes is highly appreciated. Read them carefully and mind my status as an amateur, after all tastes might be different. I will dig out all the older tasting notes eventually. These were never intended for posting, so you might notice that they are somewhat sketchy. Also you will note some evolution in the tasting notes (at least this is what I would like to believe). And finally you will note, that my wine-personality was shaped by German Rieslings. The ideal of a sweet German Riesling like "Spätlese", "Auslese", "Trockenbeerenauslese" or "Eiswein" is a balance between acidity and sweetness. I also like to find this balance in a Madeira wine.

    The focus of course is on vintage Madeiras (Frasqueira) and Solera wines, but also the tasting notes of Colheita and Harvest wines will be published. Finally some blended wines of interest will also be described.

    The tasting notes are sorted by vintage year (if available), producer and grape variety, just like in the vintage list of this website. Enjoy!

    Vintage Madeiras (Frasqueira) and Soleras

    Colheitas and Harvest wines

    Blended Madeira wines

    Madeira Wine Labels

    So why a chapter about Madeira wine labels?
    Well, it has been a long time project of my to-do list. But be aware: we are not talking about paper labels or slip labels on bottles. This chapter is about wine labels made of a solid material like silver, china or mother of pearl, designed to label a decanter or a bottle filled with Madeira wine. The serving and displaying of this wine is part of the complete wine picture. And since Madeira wine decanters were very often labeled with such wine labels, I felt that this website dedicated to every aspect of Madeira wine would not be complete without a chapter on wine labels.

    How little did I know when I started out on this subject. In the beginning I thought there was not much to write about wine labels in general and even less about Madeira wine labels. I had no idea how wrong I was. In the beginning of 2006 I had a conversation about this topic with George Gillham, Hon. Secretary of the Wine Label Circle of Great-Britain. I made a small hint at the subject of wine labels and I was answered back with the modern bible of wine label collecting, "Wine labels", edited by John Salter and published by the Antique Collectors Club in 2004. I had to learn that the subject of wine labels was very well able to fill hundreds of pages and so on this website I will only try to give the most basic information about this aspect of Madeira wine.

    Everyone who wants to get into detail about wine labels and especially the collecting of wine labels is strongly advised to contact the Wine Label Circle at www.winelabelcircle.org. I have made extensive use of the above mentioned book "Wine labels" by John Salter, which is the modern reference book. Some of the following words are quoted directly from this book, but to keep legibility I decided against extensive use of quotation marks. Also I used an old copy of "The book of the wine label" by Norman Penzer which has been published by Home & Van Thal, London, in 1947. Finally I found much information about silver in general in "Silver" written by Joel Langford and published by Quintet Publishing, London, in 1991. I am very much indebted to George Gillham, Hon. Secretary of the Wine Label Circle and the Wine Label Circle in general. Many of the words are from George Gillham and this whole chapter of the website would not have come to life without his generous help.

    Origin

    Wine labels started in the United Kingdom just after 1730. The reason why this happened at this specific time is not known. There seems to be no change in drinking habits, glass production, wine making or any other part of the wine business. For some reason within a few years it became a fashion to mark the anonymous bottles and decanters with a wine label or bottle ticket. For various reasons the United Kingdom was the prime producer and market for wine labels. The aristocratic and upper class was well established, the drinking habits for rather heavy wines that needed to be decanted, the high quality of silver manufacturing and last but not least the naval connection to overseas served the growing need for wine labels. These labels were made from all kinds of materials and they were made in every period, especially from 1735 to 1860 (when it became legal to sell wine in single bottles in the UK) but also thereafter, thus demonstrating the enduring popularity of wines like Madeira in the UK.

    MATERIALS

    Silver

    The United Kingdom had (and still has) very strict standards of silver manufacturing that were rigorously enforced. This has led to a continuing high quality not only in design but also in the production of silver in the U.K. Also and in contrast to other guilds, the "Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and Silversmiths" accepted women and refugees like the Huguenots into their ranks. This led to a continuing high quality of craftsmanship. Since the 13th century Sterling silver was the standard silver mixture, developed by German goldsmiths and consisting of 925 parts of silver and 75 parts of copper. From 1697 to 1720 the Britannia silver standard was declared by law. This standard had 95,8 percent silver which made it rather soft but easier to process than Sterling silver. Both standard are usually hallmarked. This so called "Hallmarking" has its origin in the London hall of the "Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and Silversmiths". Many English towns had an authority which examined the silver-ware and marked it with a combination of hallmarks that gave the silver standard, the year of examination, the city and other information. However this is not the place to explain the complete code of hallmarking. Most silver wine labels will be made from Sterling silver and will therefore bear the Sterling hallmark which is the lion passant guardant. Only very few silver wine labels are made from silver of the Britannia standard. This rather soft silver did not take hallmarking very well. The mark for this silver is the Britannia figure. Many but not all silver labels will also feature a makers mark of the producer. Labels from other silver materials like Old Sheffield Plate or electroplate are not hallmarked.

    Silver escutcheon Madeira label made by George Unite, the leading producer of silver wine labels in Birmingham since he first entered marks in 1832.

    Silver escutcheon Madeira label made by George Unite, the leading producer of silver wine labels in Birmingham since he first entered marks in 1832.

    Hallmarks on the reverse side of the above Madeira label, showing the lion passant guardant for Sterling silver, the marks for Birmingham 1844 and the makers mark GU for George Unite.

    Hallmarks on the reverse side of the above Madeira label, showing the lion passant guardant for Sterling silver, the marks for Birmingham 1844 and the makers mark GU for George Unite.

    Old Sheffield Plate (OSP)

    OSP or fused plate was invented by Thomas Boulsover in 1742 or 1743 but it took years until others, especially Josiah Hancock took the method to perfection. The basic principle of OSP is a copper base plate, enveloped in silver. There is OSP with just the front being silver. These are nicknamed copperbacks, due to the visible copper on the backside. OSP also comes fully enveloped with silver and can sometimes be hard to distinguish from solid silver or electroplate. Sometimes with deep engravings you can see the shine of the reddish copper in the cut of the engraving. Labels made of OSP were mainly produced in the die-stamping process.

    Old Sheffield Plate Madeira label of the early 19th century, the inscription made by using the stamping method for the main parts of the letters and then engraving the missing parts of the letters.

    Old Sheffield Plate Madeira label of the early 19th century, the inscription made by using the stamping method for the main parts of the letters and then engraving the missing parts of the letters.

    Copper base shining through at the engraved parts of the letters R and A.

    Copper base shining through at the engraved parts of the letters R and A.

    Electroplate

    Electroplated silver was patented by George Richards Elkington and Henry Elkington in 1840 and soon took the place of OSP. In the beginning electroplate was quite expensive, because prices for the nickel alloy used as a base were high and the process of galvanizing was not fully perfected. But in the next ten to twenty years that followed, the method was further developed and dropping prices for nickel contributed to the commercial success as well. Because of the then low production costs electroplate became very popular and broadened the market for silver goods considerably.

    Electroplate Madeira label of the late 19th century.

    Electroplate Madeira label of the late 19th century.

    Other materials

    Other materials for Madeira wine labels include metals like pewter, gold, brass, tin and nickel. Other non-metal materials used were enamels, china, pottery and mother of pearl. Even exotic materials like leather and coconut have been used to make Madeira wine labels.

    Shapes

    Madeira wine labels come in wide variety of shapes. The basic shapes are escutcheons, rectangles, scrolls, crescents and ovals. Other more exotic shapes include barrels, grapes, leafs, bugles, stars, single letters (usually M), anchors, crowns and armorials.

    INSCRIPTIONS ON MADEIRA WINE LABELS

    Madeira and spelling varieties

    The majority of wine labels feature the name "Madeira". Of course there are different spellings in the countries that used to import Madeira wine. Quite logical the number of wine labels known from each country corresponds with the importance that Madeira wine had in the different European and oversea countries. Since the United States and Great-Britain were the most important markets for Madeira wine, most of the wine labels feature the English spelling of Madeira. But it is amazing how many different English spellings, even plain misspellings exist. In the wine label library in the book "Wine labels" there are labels with "MADAIRA", "MADEIRA", "MADEIRY", "MADERA", "MEADERA", "MEDEARY", "MEDEIRA", and misspellings like "MADERIA", "MADIERA" and "MEDERIA". After all silver-smiths seem to be only human too, or -more likely- the customer did not know better. In the other European countries some rare labels existed with "MADERAWIJN", "MADERE", "MADÈRE", "MÁDERE", "MADERE VIEUX", "MEDIRA", "VIN DE MADERE SEC", "

    Grape varieties

    Wine labels with a grape's name on it seem to be rarer. Not only was Madeira wine just known as a fortified and rather heavy drink to many of its consumers, who did not care much about a grape variety. Also the habit of using a grape's name started late in the history of Madeira wine. Quite often the wines were named after all sorts of things but the grape variety (please see "About bottle names" in the chapter "About old bottles"). According to the wine label library in the book "Wine labels" the following grape varieties are spelled on wine labels: "BOAL", "BOÁL", "BUAL", "CERCIAL", "CERCIAL MA", "CERCIAL MADEIRA", "MADEIRA SERCIAL"; "MAL. MADEIRA", "MALMSEY", "MALMSEY", MALMSEY DRY", "MALMSEY MADEIRA", "MALMSEY RICH", "MALMSLEY", "MALMSLY", "MALMSY", "MALMSY MADEIRA", "MALMSY RICH", "MALSMEY" (another misspelling), "MALVASIA", "MALVAGIA DE MADERE", "MALVASIA DI MADERA", "MALVEZIE", "MALVOISE MADEIRA", MALVOISEE", "MALVOISIE", "MALVOISIE de MADERE", "SERCHALL", "SERCHIALL", "SERCIAL", SERCIAL MADEIRA", "TERRANTEZ", "VERDEILHA", "VERDELHO" and "VIN DE MALVOISIE DE MADERE". Interestingly enough Malmsey (or Malvasia/Malvazia) gets the most labels, Bastardo gets none. Again this only reflects differences in importance of the different grape varieties as well as in the volume of production. Malmsey has always been the prime example for a Madeira wine, whereas a label for Bastardo has -according to George Gillham- never been reported of.

    Dated vintages

    In some rare cases labels even bear the date of specified vintage, like in "1815 EI MALMSEY" (EI probably being short for East India, meaning that the wine had made the journey to east India and back) , "1818 EI SERCIAL", "1822 MADEIRA", "MADEIRA 1818 FROM THE ISLAND", "MADEIRA 1820", "MADEIRA 1860 FROM THE ISLAND", "MADEIRA 1862 FROM THE ISLAND", "MADEIRA PRESIDENT USA COSSART GORDON BINNED 1896" (A rare label with a producer's name) and "MALMSEY RAYNE BINNED 1895".

    Others

    Many labels feature some additional information for the owner of the wine, some of which must remain a riddle for everyone but the owner. Also a lot of these names describe forged Madeiras from other places than the island of Madeira. The wine label library in "Wine labels" lists the following labels: "BRONTE MADEIRA", "BRONTI MADIERA" (Bronte or Bronti was a name for the Marsala wine from the Woodhouse firm. So this could be forged Madeira from Sicily.), "CAPE MADEIRA" (Probably forged Madeira from South Africa.), "EAST INDIA MADEIRA", "EI MADEIRA" (EI probably short for East India.), "484 MADEIRA", "GARACHICO" (The only Madeira label known to me, where the name of a village or vineyard is given. Garachico lies at the south cost, close to Estreito de Camara de Lobos. Some of the best grapes are grown here.), "GLORIA MUNDI" (The name of a well-known dry Madeira made by Leacock's.), "INA MADEIRA" (A misspelling of India?), "INDIA MADEIRA", "INDIAN MADEIRA", "MALUS: MADEIRA", "MEDERE, PAGLIARINO", "New: Madaira", "NO 1 MADEIRA", "NO 2 MADEIRA", "No.3 Madeira 159", "RED MADEIRA", "SPANISH MADEIRA" (Does this mean forged Spanish Madeira, or did the owner of the label confuse Portugal with Spain after one glass of Madeira to many?), and "W. I. MADEIRA" (This might be short for West Indies, meaning that the wine made a journey there and back).