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February 11, 2007

Blended Madeira wines

There are many well done Madeira blends out there, but personally I think that the big step up in quality as well as in price-value-relation is between the 5 YO and the 10 YO blends. Many decent 3 YO Tinta Negra Mole blends can well compete with the 5 YO blends of the classical varieties. In my perception the difference in quality between the 10 YO and the 15 YO blends is not much. I feel that the 10 YO blends offer the best value when it comes to everyday Madeira wines.

3 YO Madeira Blends

Alvada, Blandy
Yes I know what serious Madeira wine lovers think of Alvada. I admit I used to be one of those. But drinking it slightly cooled, this medium mahogany colored wine shows a rich and fruity nose and a sweet and very fruity palate with a surprisingly long fruity finish. This wine is easy to drink and very enjoyable. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008, tasted again 10/2010 for 90 points.

Delaforce Good Rich
Bottle:
Miniature bottle, small stopper cork.
Color:
Iodine with tawny rim, some sediment.
Nose:
Subdued roasted aromas, caramel.
Palate:
Medium sweetness with good backing acidity, some toffee and caramel notes.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Dona Mecia Sweet, Barbeito
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with JNV paper seal, small moist cork, foil cap.
Color:
Mahogany, greenish rim.
Nose:
Lots of VA, burnt coffee.
Palate:
Sweet, some acidity, spirity, smoky finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

East India Madeira, Fine Rich, Vinhos Justino Henriques
Color:
Iodine with tawny rim.
Nose:
Caramell, harmonious, ginger cake.
Palate:
Medium sweetness, fruity, with only little acidity, nice caramell, short but harmonious finish. Quite good for a three year old blend.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2007.

Espinheiro Madeira
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with screwcap.
Color:
Mahogany, iodine rim, some sediment.
Nose:
No VA, subdued, some toffee.
Palate:
Off dry, toffee, toasted bread, short finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Espinheiro Normal Ruby Madeira
Bottle:
Bottle 0,7 liters with screwcap.
Color:
Medium dark iodine, orange rim, some sediment.
Nose:
Lots of VA, ginger cake, coffee and other roasted aromas, then honey and beeswax, flowers, wonderful.
Palate:
Medium sweet, good acidity, bitter coffee, mouthwatering, ginger cake, then a slightly bitter but pleasant finish of medium length with an interesting almond aftertaste. Well done.
Footnote:
Tasted 6/2007, as far as I know no longer available.

Flagman's Rich Old
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with screwcap.
Color:
Bright iodine, greenish rim.
Nose:
No VA, vegetable soup flavor, mushrooms.
Palate:
Medium sweetness, low acidity, toffee, caramel, short and bitter finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Izidro L Doce, CVM
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with IVM paper seal, small stopper cork.
Color:
Iodine, tawny rim, lots of sediment.
Nose:
Some VA, sudued, caramel.
Palate:
Sweetness, some acidity, quite raw, some toffee, short and sweet finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Izidro M Meio Doce, CVM
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with IVM papaer seal, small stopper cork with foil cap.
Color:
Medium iodine with tawny rim, some sediment.
Nose:
Some VA, and... nothing.
Palate:
Medium sweet, spirity, sharp acidity, toffee, medium long sweet finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Izidro S Seco, CVM
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with IVM paper seal, small stopper cork.
Color:
Iodine, tawny rim, lots of sediment.
Nose:
Lots of VA, onions, unpleasant cooked vegetable smell.
Palate:
Faded, dried out, some acidity, decayed.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Jose Naredo Fine Rich Madeira
Bottle:
Modern industrial made bottle, stopper cork with foil cap.
Color:
Dark tawny with orange rim.
Nose:
Nice fruity ginger cake, roasted aromas, orange peel.
Palate:
Quite sweet, good backing acidity, no VA, ginger cake and a little toffee with it, some orange peel aroma at the finish. Quite good and easy to drink.
Footnote:
Tasted 7/2007, produced by Vinhos Justino Henriques.

Kopke Good Rich Madeira
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with screwcap.
Color:
Dark iodine with tawny rim, some sediment.
Nose:
No VA, candied orange peel, vegetable soup flavor.
Palate:
Off dry, spirity, raw, toffee, coffee, short and bitter finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Leacock's Rainwater
Bottle:
Heavy modern bottle with impressive golden label and IVM paper seal.
Color:
Brilliant medium dark tawny with amber rim.
Nose:
Fruity, vinous mix of toffee, spices and citrus/orange peel, no VA.
Palate:
Medium sweet with well integrated acidity, rather light, orange peel again, lemon fruit, then some toffee and a pleasant citrusy/orangy finish of medium length with some darker aromas underneath. Well done for a 3 YO!
Footnote:
Tasted 7/2007

Pries Scholtz Camara De Lobos Madeira
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with screwcap.
Color:
Bright tawny with orange rim, some sediment.
Nose:
Lots of VA, toffee.
Palate:
Off dry, raw, toffee, short and bitter finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Rozès Rainwater Madeira
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with wicker cap and short stopper cork.
Color:
Iodine, tawny rim.
Nose:
Lots of VA, toffee, caramel.
Palate:
Off dry, toffee, caramel, short and bitter finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

Unknown Shipper
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with very old JNV paper seal, small stopper cork.
Color:
Dark iodine, orange rim, lots of sediment.
Nose:
Some VA, burnt coffee, caramel.
Palate:
Some sweetness, good acidity, caramel, toffee, a little spirity, short and sweet finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

V8 Seco, Barbeito
Bottle:
Miniature bottle with JNV paper seal and small but moist cork with foil cap.
Color:
Muddy iodine with orange rim, some sediment.
Nose:
Disgusting smell of cooked vegetables and some caramel.
Palate:
Some sweetness, medium acidity, toffee, short and sweet finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 3/2007.

5 YO Madeira Blends

Blandy’s 5YO Dry Blend (TNM)
This is the new TNM blend for the near future, showing a nice orange-brown color. The nose shows nutty flavors, grapey fruit and raisins. On the palate the wine is quite fruity, not to dry, pleasant to drink, with enough acidity to keep it interesting. Certainly less nutty flavors compared with the 5YO Sercial, but nevertheless a well done wine for everyday drinking. Tasted 3/2009.

Blandy’s 5YO Rich Blend (TNM)
The sweet variety of the 5YO TNM blend shows a warm cola brown and a big and very rich nose of figs and raisins –wow!- then in the mouth considerable sweetness, but no to sticky, raisins and lots of toffee, lots of acidity, much more than in the 5YO Malmsey, very well integrated, long finish of fruit and caramel. This is a very good blend, and is even better than the 5YO Malmsey IMHO. Tasted 3/2009.

Blandys 5YO Sercial
Bottle:
Heavy machine-made elegant bottle.
Color:
Bright straw, yellow rim.
Nose:
Etheral nose with a little lemon and fino sherry character.
Palate:
Surprisingly off-dry, not really sweet, but quite fruity with lemon and orange, then leading towards a light toffee-ish melange of caramel, honey and spices. The acidity is rather low and well integrated.
Footnote:
Tasted in 8/2007

Blandys 5YO Verdelho
Bottle:
Heavy machine-made elegant bottle.
Color:
Bright tawny with orange rim.
Nose:
Elegant and fruity nose with a harmonious blend of raisins and figs, then toffee and even a little smokyness.
Palate:
Off-dry with well integrated acidity, toffee and ginger cake, rounded, very pleasant but not really interesting. Nevertheless easy to drink and a perfect wine for the first-time Madeira experience.
Footnote:
Tasted in 8/2007

Blandys 5YO Bual
Bottle:
Heavy machine-made elegant bottle.
Color:
Medium iodine.
Nose:
The nose is quite complex with notes of roasted coffee, caramell and spices, much stronger than the Sercial or Verdelho.
Palate:
Sweet and harmonious, well balanced with enough acidity to make this wine interesting, coffee and toffee are dominating, also some vanilla leading to a pleasant finish of warm and roasted aromas.
Footnote:
Tasted in 8/2007

Blandys 5 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Heavy machine-made elegant bottle.
Color:
Even a little darker iodine than the Bual. Usually Bual is the darkest of the Madeiras.
Nose:
Fruit and marmelade, toffee-ish and elegant, also coffee and ashes.
Palate:
Sweet and rich, well balanced acidity, raisins, figs, all very harmonious but also very mainstream. Nevertheless pleasant to drink.
Footnote:
Tasted 8/2007

10 YO Madeira Blends

Adegas de Torreao 10YO Sweet Reserve
Bottle:
Heavy machine made bottle with yellow print.
Color:
Medium dark tawny.
Nose:
Pleasant nose of ginger cake, with lots of VA, honey and cinnamon.
Palate:
Highly acidic entry with only little sweetness, rather fruity with lots of orange but lacking a little in depth and body. Very much on the dark and roasted side with bitter finish. But a nice note of candied orange peel stayed in the mouth for a quite some time.
Footnote:
Tasted 11/2007. I had bought this wine on my last trip to Madeira after I had found it by chance in an embroidery shop. Until then I thought that Adegas de Torreao had only produced vintage wines.

Barbeito 10 YO Bual
Bottle:
Heavy cylindrical bottle with big stencils on the front.
Color:
The color is the lightest, together with the Borges wine, showing a bright tawny.
Nose:
Sweet nose with a little VA, featuring dried fruits and vanilla, promising.
Palate:
The wine is medium sweet with low acidity, a little sugarcane to begin with and then more vanilla, also some fruit with lemon dominating, no roasted aromas here, but a nice fruity finish. This is a very modern and fruity Bual blend and easy to drink.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Barbeito 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Heavy cylindrical bottle with big stencils on the front.
Color:
This wine displays the brightest color of all the Malmseys, showing a bright tawny.
Nose:
The nose starts with a little VA, then dried fruit and an interesting smokiness, promising.
Palate:
This blend is medium sweet with well balanced medium acidity, rather light in general but very fruity, lean and elegant, ending in a long fruity lemon finish with just the right amount of tickling acidity to leave the mouth refreshed. The Barbeito blend is the lightest of Malmsey blends, well done in the modern fruity Madeira style.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Blandy 10 YO Bual
Bottle:
Cylindrical slightly curved bottle with elegant paper label.
Color:
Medium dark mahogany color.
Nose:
Sweet nose with lots of VA, featuring a variety of roasted aromas, toffee, caramel and even a little roasted oak.
Palate: Very sweet and rich, the sweetest of the Bual blends, together with the Cossart wine. Also high acidity perfectly balanced with the sweetness, roasted aromas also dominate the palate, lots of toffee, coffee, oak and walnuts, leading to a long and bitter finish. This is a rich and almost voluptuous Madeira blend.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Blandy 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Cylindrical slightly curved bottle with elegant paper label.
Color:
The color is a medium dark mahogany.
Nose:
The rich nose is dominated by sugarcane and toffee, maybe also a little walnut here, also some VA that adds to the impression of richness.
Palate:
The wine is sweet and rich, but the high acidity keeps it from being cloying, toffee and caramel lead to a long and slightly smoky finish. This is a well-done example of a rich “non-baked” Malmsey blend.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Borges 10 YO Sercial
This wine shows a bright iodine brown with a fresh and very appealing citrus nose with a little walnut and almond as well and some toffee in the background. The palate is just off-dry, soft and nutty, with a little toffee too and only little acidity, ending with a clean dry finish. 89 points 10/2010

Borges 10 YO Bual
Bottle:
Heavy cylindrical bottle with small slip label on the front, unusual appearance, but I liked it.
Color:
The color is the lightest, together with the Barbeito wine, showing a bright and slightly reddish tawny.
Nose:
Medium sweetness with a little VA, raisins and toffee and even a little beef bouillon, pleasant.
Palate:
Rather sweet with high acidity that carries the wine through to the acidic finish of medium length. Well integrated with toffee and dried fruits, this wine is mainstream, but also very pleasant, mouth watering and easy to drink.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Borges 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Heavy cylindrical bottle with small slip label on the front, unusual appearance, but I liked it.
Color:
The wine shows a dark iodine color.
Nose:
The nose offers a little VA, lots of caramel and orange, promising.
Palate:
The wine is very sweet with very high acidity, in fact the highest in all the Malmsey blends together with the D’Oliveira wine. The palate is very fruity, lemon, orange, even a little grapefruit – it’s all here, towards the finish the wine shifts to a more toffee and caramel style and then ends with an acidic finish that underlines the fruity impression once again. This wine is a good combination of fruit and toffee – well done and pleasant to drink.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Broadbent 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Heavy cylindrical bottle with stencils.
Color:
This blend shows a dark iodine color.
Nose:
The nose starts with a little VA and shows walnut and molasses, then also a strange eucalyptus note that seems a little unusual but not out of place, every time I smelled it again I liked it even more.
Palate:
This very viscous wine is sweet with medium acidity, starts with walnut, molasses and toffee, then also a little glimpse of orange flavour, but then shifts back to a nice long walnut finish. Well done – and to all of you who ever wondered if this is the same wine like the VJH 10 YO Malmsey, just with a different label: the eucalyptus nose was easy to recognize in this wine, the VJH nose was very different. These are definitely two separate wines.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Cossart Gordon 10 YO Boal
Bottle:
Elegant curved bottle with paper label.
Color:
Dark iodine color.
Nose:
Sweet and fruity nose with a little VA, brown sugar and beef bouillon.
Palate:
Very sweet, the sweetest of the Bual blends, together with the Blandy wine. Lots of fruit, some candied orange de Seville, toffee, medium acidity, very rounded and harmonious, ending with a short but well balanced finish. This blend is very easy to drink and exemplary for a modern fruity Bual blend and very accessible too.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Cossart Gordon 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Elegant curved bottle with paper label.
Color:
The color is the darkest of all Malmsey blends, a dark mahogany.
Nose:
The nose is spicy and fruity, showing just the right amount of VA to make it interesting, also a little toffee here.
Palate:
This wine is sweet with high acidity and also perfectly balanced, very fruity, almost grapy, elegant, with a long fruity finish – a good example of the modern fruity style of a Malmsey blend.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

D'Oliveira 10 YO Medium Sweet (TNM)
Bottle:
Heavy and long cylindrical bottle with a colorful paper label.
Color:
The color is the darkest of all Bual blends, a dark mahogany.
Nose:
The nose is all about dark and roasted aromas, molasses, caramel, toffee and coffee and also very high on VA.
Palate:
This very viscous wine is medium sweet, features medium acidity and a variety of roasted aromas that leads to a “dark” impression. Coffee, molasses, caramel, ashes, it’s all here, culminating in a bitter and roasted finish of medium length. This is an almost “malmsey-ish” Bual blend, not very typical, but definitely old-style, I liked it.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

D'Oliveira 10 YO Sweet (TNM)
Bottle:
Heavy and long cylindrical bottle with a colorful paper label.
Color:
The wine shows a medium dark mahogany color.
Nose:
The nose starts with tickling VA, then lots of sweetness, butterscotch, caramel and dried fruits.
Palate:
The wine is sweet with very high acidity, in fact the highest in all the Malmsey blends together with the Borges wine. In contrast to the nose, the palate is surprisingly fruity; an impression that is also emphasized by the high acidity, also a little caramel here, but the long finish is again all fruit, with orange dominating. This is a perfect mouth watering example of a sweet TNM blend.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

East India 10 YO Sweet Old Reserve (TNM)
Bottle:
Curved sturdy bottle with stencils.
Color:
The wine shows a dark iodine color.
Nose:
The nose shows an interesting pepper note, also a little VA and toffee, then shifting towards more roasted aromas like coffee and ashes.
Palate:
This TNM blend is sweet with medium acidity, displaying aromas of raisins, caramel and also a slightly bitter and burnt taste, the wine is well done but the finish is rather spirity, before it ends with an impression of roasted coffee.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

H&H 10 YO Bual
Bottle:
Elegant and very long bottle with a colorful paper label.
Color:
Bright iodine almost tawny color.
Nose:
Subdued nose with hints of sweetness and honey, almonds and caramel.
Palate:
The wine is sweet and fruity with a focus on orange, well balanced with medium acidity and a nice nutty finish of medium length. The wine is rather mainstream, but elegant, pleasant and easy to drink.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

H&H 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Elegant and very long bottle with a colorful paper label.
Color:
This wine shows a medium dark mahogany.
Nose:
The nose is all raisins, also some roasted aromas here and a little VA.
Palate:
The H&H blend is very sweet but the sweetness is also perfectly counter-balanced with high acidity, toffee is dominating the palate, but a little smokiness and the high acidity keep the wine from being cloying, the finish is also a little smoky so it all works out perfectly. This wine may not be the most complex one, but is very pleasant to drink.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Justinos 10 YO Bual
Bottle:
Curved sturdy bottle with stencils.
Color:
Medium dark iodine color, with orange rim.
Nose:
Subdued sweet nose with only a little VA, sugarcane and toffee are dominating, rounded and pleasant.
Palate:
The wine is rather sweet and well balanced with high acidity and quite viscous, the palate is also dominated by toffee and sugarcane, very harmonious, ending in a surprisingly bitter finish that contrasts nicely to the initial sweetness and keeps the wine from being cloying - well done.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Justinos 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Curved sturdy bottle with stencils.
Color:
The color is a slightly reddish medium dark iodine.
Nose:
The nose shows almost no VA, lots of raisins, figs, also sweet vanilla and a strange but not unpleasant Martini-rosso-like aroma that reminds me of cough syrup.
Palate:
This blend is sweet with high acidity, overflowing with toffee and a long toffee finish. The cough syrup is there as well, but again this is rather interesting than disturbing. Even though VJH also matures the Broadbent 10YO Malmsey, the two wines are definitely not the same.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Justinos 10 YO Sweet Old Reserve (TNM)
Bottle:
Curved sturdy bottle with stencils.
Color:
The color is a slightly reddish medium dark iodine.
Nose:
The nose starts with a whiff of VA, then toffee and caramel as well as candied orange de Seville.
Palate:
The wine is sweet with medium acidity, then –quite unexpected- an all-roasted kaleidoscope of aromas: coffee, roasted onions, ashes, also raisins; it all ends with a long bitter finish. The overall impression of this well done wine is rather “dark”.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Leacock 10 YO Bual
Bottle:
Cylindrical bottle with paper label.
Color:
This wine features the second darkest color of the Bual blends, a medium dark mahogany.
Nose:
Sweet nose with lots of VA, a little unfocused, but with emphasis on toffee and caramel.
Palate:
Almost as sweet as the Blandy and Cossart blends with medium acidity, this wine is all toffee and sugarcane, round and harmonious with an all-toffee finish of medium length. This Bual blend is a little one-dimensional perhaps, but easy to drink and accessible.
Footnote:
Tasted 2/2008.

Miles 10 YO Malmsey
Bottle:
Heavy machine-made rather compact bottle.
Color:
Medium dark iodine brown with amber rim.
Nose:
Toffee, molasses, a little ginger cake with a variety of spices, very pleasant and rounded, just a little VA to make it more interesting.
Palate:
Thick, rich and viscous, good sweetness with perfectly balanced acidity, caramel and toffee first, together with a little VA, then raisins, figs, marmelade, it ends with a smoky and slightly bitter finish. Lacking a little in definition but very pleasant and a perfect desert wine.
Footnote:
Tasted in 8/2007. A classic Malmsey in the old fashioned, "more burnt less fruity-style". I liked it a lot!

15 YO Madeira Blends

15YO Malmsey, Blandy
This wine has a brilliant medium dark iodine color and a complex nose with fudge, nuts and some roasted aromas. On the palate it was rather sweet, with high acidity, lots of caramel but also some dark and roasted aromas that keep it interesting. The finish of caramel with a little coffee is of medium length. Pleasant. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.

H&H 15 YO Bual
Bottle:
Heavy machine-made bottle with H&H letters on the glass.
Color:
Dark iodine-coffee color, lots of glycerine.
Nose:
A little VA to start with then a bunch of roasted aromas with coffee dominating, some balsamic notes as well and all underlined and held together by a very pleasant butter-toffee aroma.
Palate:
Also starting with some very pleasant VA as for tuning your palate for what is about to follow: gripping acidity comes first, then some sweetness but not to much, then again a symphony of roasted aromas that gives an overall rather "dark" impression, leading to a long and bitter finish with almonds and dark chocolate. What a perfect wine, and very complex!
Footnote:
Tasted in 10/2007.

15 YO Malmsey, Henriques & Henriques
Medium tawny color, interesting nose with lots of caramel and toffee and a little VA to make it even more interesting, dried fruits as well. The palate is very sweet, but lots of acidity to back it up, again toffee and caramel, a variety of dried fruits, then a long and slightly bitter walnut finish. Well done. Tasted 3/2008.

20YO Madeira Blends

20YO Malvasia Lote 6072, Barbeito
This rarity shows a honey color and even more honey in the nose, together with lots of fruit. On the palate this wine is high on acidity, very fruity, complex with multiple layers of honey and grapes, with a long acidic finish. Though not easy to drink, this wine is very complex and interesting. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.
This rare 20 YO Blend shows a tawny color with straw colored rim. The nose is focused on nutty and fruity aromas. In the mouth the wine is rather sweet, but complex, with lots of acidity, a little overpowering, lots of fruit and a long bitter walnut finish. Other participants liked this wine a lot more then I did. 89 points 10/2009.

H&H 20 years old Terrantez
I never had this wine before so it was a huge surprise for me when I first saw this 20 years old Terrantez blend. The color is of brilliant medium dark iodine with a chestnut rim, the nose is sweet and nutty, rather subdued. The palate shifts into a higher gear with an initial soft feel of mainstream nutty sweetness, but then a slightly bitter, but typical Terrantez-backbone comes shining through. The wine evolves in your mouth into a wonderful example of Terrantez with a long and sweet finish that gives a glimpse of Terrantez-bitterness at the very end. Well done. I hope they put this on the market soon! 92 points 10/2010


30YO Madeira Blends

30 YO Malvasia Blend, Vinhos Barbeito
This is the first 30YO that has ever been made. The nose is very promising, caramel, nice VA and a spicey background. Sweet palate with lots and lots of acidity, dried fruits and a long sweet finish with almonds. This wine is rather high in alcohol (20,5%) and very powerful, showing its concentration. No wine for the beginner, but interesting. Tasted 3/2008.

40YO Madeira Blends

More than 40 years, Verdelho-Blend, Manuel Eugenio Fernandez Lda.
This wine had been started by Manuel Eugenio Fernandez as a private reserve in his house in Seixal. For his 96th birthday the wine had been bottled by the Madeira Wine Company in 2002. Since the regulations of the IVBAM only allow a blend with a maximum age of 40 years, this wine had to be labelled as a 40YO, even though the age of the blend was 52 years. The wine had a bright iodine color and was quite turbid, with long legs in the glass. The nose was very subdued at first, lots of volatile acidity and only little fruit. But the bottle had just been opened the night before, so there was good hope for a positive development as the tasting went on. And indeed, after three hours the wine had opened up perfectly, with a wonderful fruity nose, vanilla as well. The palate had been rather spirity at first but now showed good fruit, perfectly balanced acidity with just the right amount of sweetness, then a creamy toffee aroma, impressions of an old cognac and a long fruity finish. A good wine that demonstrated perfectly how important a long decanting time is for Madeira wines. Tasted 6/2008.

Madeira Blends Of Unknown Age

Flagmans V. O. Reserve Special Old Verdelho
Bottle:
Unusual bottle shape like the German "Bocksbeutel" bottles, short cork, sealed with wax cover with nice grape imprint. Imported by Eggers und Franke.
Color:
Bright tawny, yellowish rim.
Nose:
Forthcoming bouquet with lots of volatile acidity but very pleasant, toffee, burnt coffee, beef buillon, soy sauce.
Palate:
Medium sweetness with good acidity, ginger cake, harmonious fruit, then intense beef buillon again, almost with a salty impression, leading to a soft and pleasant finish of medium length. Surely blended, with some depth and very well done.
Footnote:
Bought at auction, no longer commercially available, tasted 3/2007

Vinhos Barbeito, VB Reserve
Lote 2 Cask 12d und 46a
This rarity displays a bright iodine brown color and a fruity nose with caramel to go with it. The palate is also very fruity, funky acid there as well, leading to a clean and fresh impression, then there is some caramel and medium sweetness in the finish. A nice wine that will do well as an aperitif as well as an after dinner drink. 92 points 10/2009.

Colheitas and Harvest wines

2002
Barbeito Colheita Canteiro Single Cask 110, Tinta Negra sweetThis Colheita has just been released and is the sweetest wine in the whole Barbeito range. The color is dark orange-yellow with a sweet nutty nose. The palate is very sweet, but there is also a lot of acidity to keep the wine in balance. The overall impression is richness, with sweet nuts, toffee, a little burnt sugar in the background and persistent acidity to keep the wine from being sticky sweet. The wine has been aged in a hot warehouse, you can tell that from the slightly burnt taste in the long sweet toffee finish. Wow, this is made from Tinta Negra, hard to believe, but just adding proof to the quality of the TNM grape. 92 points 10/2010

2001
Malmsey Harvest, Blandy

This harvest wine is of bright iodine color and has a fudgy nose. The palate is sweet and nutty, then changes to a more fruity middle and ends with a medium long toffee finish. This Malmsey spent 6 ½ years in cask and is quite complex. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.
A golden brown color with a slightly reddish rim, almost like a chestnut brown promises a rather heavy Malmsey. The nose is packed with caramel and different nutty aromas, a hint of roasted aromas as well. In the mouth there is considerable sweetness but also lots of acidity, so this wine is in good balance. There is lots of caramel, lots of walnut and a funky roastiness that carries on to the caramel finish, keeping the wine from being cloying. Very nice and pleasant to drink, a great wine for the cold season and already quite complex despite its young age. 92 points 19/2009.
Boal Colheita, Vinhos Barbeito
Interesting straw color with a hint of yellow here. The nose displays candied orange and grapey fruit, reminding me of a Moscatel de Setubal. The palate is also on the light side with lots of sweetness but rather little acidity, a hint of fruit, then toffee and caramel. For an acid freak like me the wine was a little cloying and one-dimensional. The all-caramel finish was rather short. 89 points 10/2009.

2000
Malvasia Colheita Single Cask 44a, Barbeito
Because of the long hot summer in 2007 and the storage in a hot place (“a” to “c” indicate different places of storage) this wine underwent rapid concentration that lead to the early bottling of 1.026 bottles from cask 44. The wine has a bright straw color, the nose shows almost no oxidation but lots of fresh and fruity aromas, almost like grape juice. In the mouth this wine lives up to the nose, starting with grapey sweetness, then an almost Moscatel-like flavour, lots of acidity, still no oxidation, no roasted or dark aromas at all, but nevertheless very complex and impressive, ending with a long grapey finish. This wine is something of a rarity and certainly not a typical Madeira, but very pleasant! Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.
Bual Single Harvest Henriques & Henriques
This single harvest wine shows its young age by the bright mahogany color with a greenish rim. In the multilayered nose with a little volatile acidity dried fruits and caramel dominate, but there is also a hint of vanilla. On the palate the wine is pleasantly sweet, but also rounded and harmonious with lots of caramel and soft acidity. In the background there is subdued fruit that carries on to the creamy caramel and toffee finish. This wine might not have a lot of personality but it is just easy to drink and a real fun wine. A nice drink for the cold season too. 92 points 10/2009.

1998
Verdelho Single Harvest, Cossart Gordon

Bright tawny color, the nose is very nutty, also some toffee, no VA, the wine is quite oily with long legs in the glass. The palate is very sweet for a Verdelho (in fact we checked the bottle to see if it was really Verdelho) with high acidity, walnut, orange and a long finish with orange and caramel. Very pleasant. Tasted 3/2008.
Verdelho Colheita, Cossart Gordon
The color is a very bright iodine, the nose is all nuts. In the mouth the wine is quite sweet for a Verdelho, also lots of fruit and acidity, nicely balanced with the sweetness, and then a long bitter finish. Interesting! Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008, 92 points in 10/2010.
Medium Rich Single Harvest, Henriques & Henriques Vinhos SA
Made from Tinta Negra Mole, this wine shows a medium dark mahogany color and a beautiful and fudgy toffee nose. In the mouth there is medium sweetness, a sharp acidic entry, then more toffee and a coffee finish of medium length. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.
This wine is made from Tinta Negra Mole and shows a bright iodine brown color. The nose is multilayered with caramel, toffee, walnut, raisins and a hint of coffee beans. In the mouth there is a fierce attack of acidity that carries on as a backbone, but also yummy aromas of citrus fruits that compete with a broad layer of caramel. The rich sweetness adds to the pleasant impression of this wine, ending in a long and fruity finish. A well made TNM wine! Was that really the same wine? Hmmm, but then again it had been opened for only two hours, certainly a very short time when it comes to Madeira wine. 91 points 10/20009.
Henriques & Henriques 1998 Colheita
Like the other producers too, H&H now mark the Colheita wines as „Single Harvest“ to make marketing easier on the international markets. This Colheita is made from Tinta Negra Mole (TNM) and has a residual sugar of 120 gr/l, 19% alcohol and about 4,5 gr/l of total acidity. The wine has a dark amber color, a nose stuffed with caramel, roasted aromas and lots of toffee. The wine is remarkably sweet, rather complex, lots of caramel in the mouth too, some darker roasted aromas as well, then a wonderful toffee finish of medium length. Again this wine shows the level of quality the wines from TNM can achieve if the producers put enough effort into it. Tasted 3/2009.
TNM Colheita Fine Rich, Vinhos Justino Henriques
Made from TNM, this wine is of medium tawny color with a hint of iodine, intense sweet toffee nose with nuts as well. The palate is sweet and rich, toffee and a bitter background of coffee, with a medium long toffee finish. Again a good TNM wine! Tasted 3/2008.
Justino’s 1998 Colheita
This is the successor to my favorite Colheita of 1996. Unfortunately it can not fully compete with the predecessor. Nevertheless the wine is well done, shows a shiny iodine brown, a nice caramel nose and on the palate a solid balance of sweetness and acidity with fruit, caramel and a sweet toffee-finish. Tasted 3/2009.
Malvasia Colheita, H. M. Borges
This Colheita shows a dark mahogany color. The nose is dominated by roasted dark hazelnut-aromas together with a fair amount of volatile acidity and orange. The taste is rather sweet, but well balanced with acidity, together with lots of caramel and even a hint of vanilla, then nuts again and a long caramel finish. A good example of a classic Malvasia wine. 91 points 10/2009.

1997
Medium Dry Single Harvest, Barbeito

This TNM wine has a bright straw color with tawny edges. The nose is very grapey and the palate is fresh, almost crisp and very acidic, but balanced with enough fruit and sweetness to make it very pleasant. The acidic finish leaves the mouth refreshed. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.
Cossart Gordon Colheita Sercial 1997The bright straw color of this Colheita is very appealing; the sweet nutty nose with a little ginger and cinnamon is very elegant. The palate is dry and refreshing, nutty, a little ginger again in the background, lots of clean acidity and a dry nutty finish of medium length. 91 points 10/2010
TNM Colheita Fine Rich, Vinhos Justino Henriques
Another TNM wine, this one with medium dark iodine color and an impressive toffee nose with caramel and nuts as well. The palate is very sweet, but with good backing acidity and a nice toffee and walnut melange. And another good TNM wine. Tasted 3/2008
Bual Colheita, Cossart Gordon
This colheitas wine shows a bright straw color and a fruity nose with some toffee as well. On the palate there is lots of toffee, leading to an almost creamy feel, but there is powerful acidity as well. It all ends in an impressive all toffee finish. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008, 92 pints 10/2010.
Boal Single Harvest Cossart Gordon
Bright tawny color with straw-colored rim, intense nose of dried fruits, caramel and toffee. The palate is sweet and shows lots of acidity to counter-balance the sweetness, in fact the acidity carries the wine through to the toffee-ish finish, with a little coffee and also caramel on the way. Well done. Tasted 3/2008.

1996
Colheita Sweet Broadbent Madeira

Color:
Brilliant light amber, very light when compared to a sweet Madeira vintage.
Nose:
Very figgy nose with lots of sweet toffee and caramel, powerfull yet elegant, much more complex than expected.
Palate:
Medium sweetness with perfectly balanced acidity, nice caramell with toffee, almonds, walnuts, then also some roasted aromas of coffee and toasted bread, ending with a very smooth and long vinous finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 1/2008. Rather intense compared to the about 7 or 8 Colheitas I had so far and a very positive surprise. Made from from Tinta Negra Mole, Complexa, Tinta da Madeira and Triunfo, so this is another hint at the good potential of these grapes especially TNM. Definitely a good alternative to 15 year old Madeira blends or young vintage Madeiras. Anyway this wine was very good indeed! According to the producers homepage this is the first Colheita Madeira that has ever been introduced to the U.S. - it's a shame they don't sell their wines in continental Europe.
Malmsey Colheita, Cossart Gordon
This is the darkest of the displayed colheitas, showing a dark cola brown. The nose has a strong whiff of VA, even though on the technical sheet they will tell you that it is only 0,66%. The nose also has honey with some pleasant roasted aromas as well. In the mouth this wine is rather sweet, even for a Malmsey, but this is well balanced with a complex palate of honey and caramel and lots of acidity. The finish is very long and ends with rich and beautiful caramel. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.
Colheita, Justinos
I had hoped for another sip of the Terrantez Old Reserve, but this wine was just as amazing, though something completely different. The wine has a medium dark iodine color and a very rich, sweet and nutty nose, with toffee too and figs. The palate has medium sweetness and is perfectly balanced with medium acidity, toffee, almonds, nuts, then also darker aromas. The vinous finish is very long and the wine in general is very enjoyable to drink, combines complexity and harmony! This reminds me a lot of the Broadbent 1996 Colheita and might just be the same wine. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.
This TNM colheita has been a favorite of mine for a long time and it impressed me again. With its dark iodine brown color and its rich nose of figs, nuts and coffee this colheita is complex and fun to drink. In the mouth it is quite sweet, perfectly balanced with just the right amount of acidity, then toffee, almonds, walnuts, also some darker more roasted aromas as well. This time the wine is even more rounded and mellow, may be because of the longer storage time in cask. The grapey finish is long. A very pleasant drink and a good combination of complexity and harmony. 92 points 10/2009.

1995
Colheita, Justinos

The predecessor of my favorite TNM-colheita shows a golden brown and an unusual but pleasant nose with fruity caramel and an initial blast of peppermint. The palate is sweet and balanced with pleasant acidity, nice fruit in the background, but the focus is on caramel, walnut and almonds, with a slightly bitter nutty finish. A well made TNM wine. 91 points 10/2009.
Boal Colheita, H. M. Borges
A bright but cold iodine brown is the interesting color of this wine. Heavy and singed caramel together with a small amount of volatile acidity please the nose. In the mouth the first sip leaves a roasted, almost smoked impression, lots of toffee here and caramel as well, but also a good measure of fruity acidity. A clean caramel finish of medium length leaves the mouth waiting for the next sip. A very nice old-style Madeira. 92 points 10/2009, same result 10/2010.


1994
Malvasia Colheita, Vinhos Barbeito

Medium tawny color, nose with walnut and dried fruits, moderately sweet palate, very fruity, light, elegant and nice walnut finish. Good. Tasted 3/2008.

1992
Blandy’s Malmsey Colheita
This wine has only been bottled in January 2009 and shows a medium dark mahogany. The nose is subdued, mainly toffee. Then in the mouth the wine switches to a higher gear, with a spectacular acidic attack at first, then caramel and butter, toffee, leading to an almost creamy impression, before ending with a slightly bitter caramel finish. After 17 years in the cask this wine is impressing, powerful and complex. Tasted 3/2009.
TNM Single Harvest, Vinhos Barbeito
This single harvest wine is made from TNM with a straw color, nutty nose with candied orange de Seville, palate with moderate sweetness but perfect acidity, fruity and nutty at the same time and a long fruity finish. A single cask wine with less then 1000 bottles made. These TNM wines are getting better all the time… Tasted 3/2008.

1991
Blandy’s Boal Colheita
This Colheita spent 18 years in cask, you might call it an almost-vintage Madeira. In fact a good Colheita Madeira could spend a couple more years in cask and return to the market as a vintage Madeira later, if enough wine has remained in cask to warrant the effort. This wine now shows a nice orange-brown color and a sweet toffee nose. On the palate there is pleasant sweetness with enough acidity as a counterpart, also some roasted, darker aromas, quite complex, lots of toffee, and a dark toffee finish. Well done and rather concentrated, thanks to the 18 years in cask. Tasted 3/2009.
Sercial Colheita, Cossart Gordon
This the lightest of the MWC wines at the Berlin tasting, with a very bright iodine color. The nose shows lots of nutty flavours and bees wax as well. The wine has a very dry entry, then softens a little and shows nuts and almonds. The acidity is high but not to much so and carries the wine on to an interesting acidic finish of medium length, that leaves the mouth refreshed. Tasted at the Berlin IVBAM tasting 10/2008.

1990
Blandy’s Malmsey Colheita
And another interesting Colheita with a shiny iodine brown and a fruity raisin nose with lots of toffee added. On the palate the first impression is that of a Chinese sweet and sour sauce, because of the concentration, but the balance of sweetness and acidity is well done, a little sharp in the beginning, probably not decanted long enough, only little caramell and toffee, but lots of fruit, lemon, orange, a little Moscatel, also a long fruity finish with a touch of bitterness at the end, reminding me of candied orange peel. Very interesting and well done, for me the best Colheita of the 2009 ProWein, a perfect example of the modern fruity Madeira style. Tasted 3/2009.
This colheita shows a dark iodine brown with a slightly greenish rim. The nose is rather subdued, with a hint of volatile acidity and some caramel. But once on the palate, the wine shifts to a higher gear with a very good balance between heavy sweetness and powerful acidity, bitter-sweet fruits to go with it, almost a hint of grapefruit there, then a caramel finish of medium length. An impressive wine that would benefit in complexity from a couple more years in cask and might even return as a young vintage Madeira. 91 points 10/2009.

Vintage Madeiras (Frasqueira) and Soleras

Upon repeated request I finally decided to award scores to the tasted Madeira vintage and solera wines. The ratings are based on the widely popular 100-point-system, starting with 50 (I do admit I will never be able to understand the logic in this...). This is also the place to add one word of caution: I consider myself an amateur in the true sense of the word and I am certainly no professional wine critic. It is true that I drink a lot of Madeira wine, some of it mediocre, some of it outstanding and most of it simply much fun to drink. But my tasting notes and the awarded scores are just my own personal opinion and thats it, with no warranties implied whatsoever. I do fall for acidity, especially a little volatile acidity, sweetness and complexity. Your taste might differ a lot from mine, so please do not be dissapointed if you don't like a wine that I found to be excellent.

1988
Sercial Vintage, Vinhos Barbeito
The color is cold bright iodine; the citrusy nose displays lots of lemon and orange aromas, fresh and zesty. The palate is highly acidic, a little fruity sweetness in the background, with lots of lemon and orange, but no nuttiness here. This is all about citrusy fruit aromas, with an acidic finish of medium length. Well done! The 2009 bottling had been stored in demijohns for two years, since the concentration of sugar was threatening to reach Verdelho-like levels. 92 points 10/2010

1982
Boal Vintage, Vinhos Barbeito

Medium dark tawny with amber rim, subdued nutty nose, but then the palate is more focused with lots of acidity, quite sweet, again lots of walnut and almonds. Not really impressive but nevertheless a good and typical Boal. The wine had been in cask for only 21 years until 2001 and had been transferred to demijohns because the sweetness rose to levels that would have made it impossible to bottle this wine as a Boal. 91 points in 3/2008.

1981
Verdelho Vintage, Vinhos Barbeito

This wine had been in cask until 2005 for a total of only 24 years. The color is medium tawny, the nose features dried fruits, toffee, not really impressive and no detectable VA, but then the palate shifts to a higher gear, with little sweetness but fierce acidity, lots of fruit, and a long bitter walnut finish. A very complex wine and if I didn’t know that it only had spent 24 years in cask I would have guessed for 40 to 50 years in cask. Very impressive. 95 points in 3/2008.
A well-known Verdelho to me, this 1981 wine, that spent 24 years in cask until 2005. The color is a medium bright tawny with a hint of red. The nose has dried fruits, a hint of cinnamon, some raisins, more complex then I remembered. The palate is quite powerful with lots of fierce acidity, only little sweetness in the background, leading to an almost dry overall impression, nice citric fruit here with only little caramel, but complex and nutty. The powerful acidity carries through to the walnut finish. A good and very powerful wine! 93 points 10/2009.

1980
Artur de Barros e Sousa Lda. Boal

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, no crusting.
Color:
Pale bright iodine.
Nose:
Vinous, caramell, harmonious.
Palate:
Medium sweetness, nice caramell with toffee, some fruity ginger cake, medium finish.
Footnote:
94 points in 10/2003.

1979
HMB Sercial
Straw colored, brilliant, slightly golden, with orange rim and an intense citrus nose with some VA, hot spices, cinnamon and orange, quite concentrated. Also rather concentrated on the palate with high orange-like acidity, some residual sweetness, but nevertheless palate-cleansing. The wine is dry; still the powerful citrus and grapefruit aromas give some appearance of sweetness to this well defined Sercial. The long finish again shows powerful lemon and orange that leaves you with an overall impression of freshness.
93 points in 12-2012

1978
Boal Vintage, Vinhos Barbeito

One of the most impressive of the tasted Madeira vintage wines. The wine had just been bottled after 29 years in cask, with medium dark tawny, rich nose of almonds and a little toffee and some VA as well. The palate is sweet with lots of acidity, toffee, crème brulee, the acidity carries the wine through to a long almond finish that ends slightly bitter to make you long for the next sip. This is a very good wine and already is very impressive for its young age. 95 points in 3/2008.

1977
Blandy’s Boal
After 30 years in cask, this Boal has been bottled in 2007. Even though quite young, the color is a rich and warm iodine brown. In the nose there is a little amount of volatile acidity, then figs and honey, a little caramel. On the palate the sweetness is forthcoming with just the right amount of sugar (80 gr/l), lots of acidity, a little sharp at the beginning, but the bottle had been opened just an hour ago, then lots and lots of sweet toffee, with still enough acidity in the background, and a long creamy toffee finish. This is a very good Madeira, a typical Boal, impressive already, it will benefit from more time in cask. 94(95) points in 3/2009.

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

1976
Blandys Terrantez
This Terrantez vintage Madeira was the best wine of the tasting for me. Later one of my Madeira wine comrades told me, that this wine is one of his favorites and that he has been buying it for years. I had never had this wine before, but after tasting it , I can easily see why. The color is a dark mahogany. In the nose there is a kaleidoscope of aromas, lots of volatile acidity, a little musk, dark and roasted aromas, then a touch of something wild, funky, leathery, waxy, hard to describe, but pleasant and very well fitting into the overall impression, and finally a lot of dried fruits. So much fun before even the first sip, wow. And then with the first sip the wine keeps its promise: nutty sweetness, powerful acidity, a layer of bitter walnut, lots of caramel, raisins, molasses, that wild, funky, leathery thing in the background again and then a long bitter walnut finish. What a great wine, hard to believe it only had 21 years in cask. I just hope they will give it more time, since this is going to become a classic Terrantez vintage Madeira. 94 points 10/2009 and 10/2010.

1969
Miles Sercial
This wine shows sparkling bright iodine with straw-colored rim. The nose is vibrant with lots of citrus fruit, orange peel and just a hint of caramel. The first sip is all acid, the wine is certainly dry, but there is such an abundant and powerful base layer of fruit that you get an almost sweet impression of the wine. Orange peel, a little ginger and just a hint of tamarind tea hover above the acidic fruit, leading to a long and highly acidic finish with a slight bitterness in the end. Wow, what a wine to start the tasting! This is a wonderful example of a powerful young Sercial, reminding me of the Leacock 1963 Sercial and just as vibrant and lively. 94 points in 12/2012

1966
Blandy’s Sercial
Bottled in 2004 the wine has been in cask for 38 years. The color is a dark tawny, the nose is all nuts at first, then a little fruity as well. The first impression on the palate is a real acid punch, but then the acidity becomes a kaleidoscope of fruity aromas, the wine changes to a softer layer of nuts and licorice –is this really a Sercial?- even a little toffee and a long almond finish, still carried through by the acidity. A well done combination of the two sometimes rather different styles of Sercial: acidity and nuts. Very interesting, even for those who usually do not really like Sercial. 94 points in 3/2009.

1963
Leacock Sercial

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make.
Color:
Pale tawny with yellow-greenish rim.
Nose:
Very strong notes of lemon, a little spirity.
Palate:
Very concentrated, very fruity, lots of acidity, lemon and more lemon, almost with a sweet impression because of all the fruity aromas, long dry finish with a slightly bitter lemon note. This wine is powerful and will probably age very well. Mouthcleansing!
Footnote:
95 points in 10/2003.

1957
D'Oliveira Old Wine Sweet

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting.
Color:
Rather dark brown with iodine rim.
Nose:
Some volatile acidity, molasses, burnt coffee, sweetness.
Palate:
A little spirity ar first, then some fruity sweetness with the typical burnt taste, coffee, ashes, roasted nuts, good backing acidity, very balanced with the sweet finish. After 48 hours nicely rounded and harmonious, less coffee and molasses now, fruity sweetness.
Footnote:
94 points in 6/2001, 21% volume of alcohol.

1955
Manuel Eugenio Fernandes Lda., Verdelho

This was a bottle without any IVM or IVBAM seal, the bottling company was not mentioned. The color was brilliant iodine with tawny rim. The bottle had also been opened just the night before, so the nose was again very subdued, with little toffee and small amounts of VA. After three hours the wine had also opened up, but not as much as the first wine. So a fair judgement of this wine was not really possible, since I am sure that the wine needed more breathing time. The palate was spirity with only little fruit and a bitter finish, in general very much alike the first wine, but lighter in style. I will have to come back to this wine at a later time.
93 points in 6/2008.

1940
Cossart Boal Solera
Medium dark mahogany brown with cloudy appearance. The nose displays an initial blast of VA, then a nice mélange of ginger bread, raisins, hints of honey and a base layer of caramel. In the mouth there is a general impression of sweet-sour fruit, with citrusy acid and lots of lemon, bitter orange and a small amount of pineapple. Only little caramel here, almost no toffee, very fruity and very pleasant, ending with an acidic finish of medium length.
92 points in 6-2013

1936
H. M. Borges Boal

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, very short driven cork with wax cover, very moist and in excellent condition with a handwritten 1936 on it - strange. No crusting.
Color:
Rather pale iodine (for a Boal) with orange rim. Little sediment.
Nose:
Strong nose with a little acetone at first, then fruity treacle and ginger cake.
Palate:
Quite strong impression of burnt aromas, then some apricot marmelade with good sweetness and corresponding acidity. Some coffee-like toffee-ish aromas follow and end with an ashy, slightly bitter but very aromatic finish of medium length. Directly compared to the Amaro wine of the same year, this Boal offers much more complexity.
Footnote:
94 points in 12/2006.

1936
Antonio Amaro "Primera" full rich

Bottle:
Deeply punted bottle of industrial make, long driven cork with lead foil cover, very moist and in excellent condition. No crusting.
Color:
Medium-dark iodine color with greenish-orange rim. Little sediment.
Nose:
Harmonious but rather volatile nose with only little apricot and orange.
Palate:
Harmonious with medium sweetness and some acidity, well counterbalanced. Directly compared to the Borges Boal of the same year however, this wine is lacking some depth. Coffee goes first, then some ashes with a rather pungent and bitter aftertaste that doesn't last for long.
Footnote:
92 points in 12/2006. As explained in the chapter about "Types of Wine", the wines of Antonio Amaro were spanish fakes, but this one tasted very well like a Madeira wine of medium quality.

1935
H. M. Borges Boal

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, very short stopper cork with wax cover, light crusting.
Color:
Medium dark iodine with orange rim. Little sediment.
Nose:
Ginger cake, molasses, honey, very rounded and harmonious, very intense for such a rather young wine, filling the whole room within minutes.
Palate:
Good sweetness to start with, then ginger cake, molasses and good corresponding acidity, all quite powerful and impressive. After two hours of breathing the wine became much more rounded, soft, harmonious. Very long finish with interesting molasses and balsamico notes.
Footnote:
95 points in 6/2005.

1930
Adega Exportadora de Vinhos da Madeira Lda. Genuine Rich

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting, short and crumbly cork under lead foil.
Color:
Orange-red with iodine rim, a strange color.
Nose:
A little volatile acidity at first, then caramel, burnt sweetness, a lot of ripe fruit, especially mirabelle, all rather short.
Palate:
Lots of alcohol (22% volume), a little spirity at first, after a few minutes beginning to soften, becoming more rounded. Sweet fruits, then some dark notes of coffee, ashes, caramel, ending with a slightly bitter and medium long finish. Nice and harmonious, though not in the top flight.
Footnote:
93 points in 9/2002.

1927
D'Oliveira Bastardo

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This wine displayed a slightly red iodine color.
Nose:
Dried fruits, some coffee and I also detected a strange almost strawberry like flavor.
Palate:
The palate showed some bitter toffee aromas, coffee again with some sweet richness but then a dry finish of medium length.
Footnote:
91 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. This Bastardo wine came from the Adegas de Torreao in Funchal. After the owner Vasco Lojas had died and none of his descendants wanted to take over the company, D'Olivieras bought most of the Torreao stock of old wines. The low yielding Bastardo grape seems to be extinct nowadays and only a few vintage wines are still around. I do admit that I was a little dissapointed because I had expected more from this particular wine.

1926
Cossart Cordon Solar do val Formosa Boal
The orange-straw colored wine shows a greenish rim, but this very promising color is immediately ruined by a very funky sulfur smell that absolutely destroys the wine. The palate too is completely overshadowed by sulfur. Some typical Madeira aromas shine through, but nevertheless this is certainly a faulty bottle. Even over the next two hours the sulfur did not blow off. No points awarded.

1925
H. M. Borges Boal

Color:
Dark tawny with greenish rim, strange color, nothing like I have ever seen before.
Nose:
Whiff of VA at the beginning, promising, then toffee and a caleidoscope of burnt aromas, beef bouillon, also roasted onions, very pleasant.
Palate:
Fierce and biting acidity, even a little spirity, mouthwatering, medium sweetness with lots of caramel, quite concentrated, lots of sweet toffee with a just a hint of coffee, so not cloying, then after some airing time gaining in complexity, showing candied orange peel, chestnut, racy but very harmonious, ending with a long finish with bitter almonds.
Footnote:
96 points in 1/2008. Wide, rounded bottle with wicker cover and cap, short stopper cork, leaking a little from the transport. The bottle neck showed a dark brown JNV seal of authenticity, so the wine must have been bottled in or before the 1970ies. Regarding the only 45 years in cask, the wine showed remarkable concentration. Another excellent wine from the H. M. Borges company.
Tasted again a couple of months later, now even more complex, beautiful nose with lots of toffee, fruity, violets and roasted aromas as well, after a while also a pleasant honey aroma. The palate with lots of fruit and even more caramel, lots of toffee as well, mellow and complex, a glimpse of violets and then a long toffee finish with a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

1920
Uniao Vinicola Lda Malmsey

Bottle:
Quarter bottle with small cork and wax cover, importer's slip label, stating that the wine had been bottled in 1935.
Color:
Muddy iodine, tawny rim.
Nose:
Lots of VA, toffee and beef bouillon, then evolving into coffee and other more burnt aromas, very pleasant and rounded.
Palate:
Rather sweet, lots of VA again, featuring the typical medicine-like taste of some old Malmseys, also toffee and molasses, but also a strange strawberry flavor that just does not fit into the rest of the palate. Medium long finish with an emphasis on caramel and toffee, lacking a little in acidity.
Footnote:
88 points in 10/2007. From the information on the importer's slip label it seems like this wine had been bottled after 15 years in cask - strange. But since it was a quarter bottle, it might not have been intended for long term keeping anyway.

1915
Cossart Gordon Verdelho Solera

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, with irregular shape and imprinted "CG 1745" on the bottle, light crusting.
Color:
Dark Mahogany with slight orange reflexes, yellow-greenish rim.
Nose:
Lots of volatile acidity to start with, acetone, then some ammonia, after 48 hours rounded and sweet.
Palate:
Very spirity, acetone, ammonia, hardly drinkable, little sweetness. After 48 hours much better, harmonious and sweet fruit with good acidity, long and slightly bitter finish.
Footnote:
92 points in 2/2001, a typical example of how important the early decanting of old Madeira wines really is, 21% volume of alcohol.

1912
D'Oliveira Verdelho

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
The color was a medium dark mahogany with tawny rim.
Nose:
In the nose you could detect sweet dried fruits with ginger bread, but it seemed not quite clean to me.
Palate:
On the palate there was coffee and then some chocolate, good balance of sweetness and acidity and a nice rootbeer flavor, but just at the end you had a subdued taste like decaying wood.
Footnote:
92 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. This Verdelho came from the year the Titanic sunk. When tasting old Madeira wines it is sometimes difficult to shut out the historic background of the wines and the fascination that arises from it.

1910
Companhia Regional de Exportacao de Vinhos da Madeira Boal

Bottle:
Flask-shaped bottle of industrial make, covered with wicker, strange T-shaped stopper cork, leaking a little from the transport.
Color:
Medium dark mahogany, a little cloudy, amber rim.
Nose:
Lots of VA, biting the nostrils, then lots of fruity caramel, toffee, roasted coffee as well.
Palate:
Very acidic entry, almost with a burning sensation in the mouth, medium sweetness, very fruity and mellow, yet still high on acidity, a very pleasant combination, then a shift towards toffee, also lots of toffee in the finish of medium length, and a touch of darkness at the end, slightly bitter. Not the very best but interesting and very pleasant to drink. Quite similar in style to the 1908 Malmsey of the CREVM.
Footnote:
93 points in 3/2009

1908
Companhia Regional de Exportacao de Vinhos da Madeira Malmsey

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting on one side, short branded cork, very crumbly, under lead foil, tax stamp on the bottle.
Color:
Iodine, a little cloudy, tawny rim.
Nose:
Fruit and caramel, burnt and singed notes.
Palate:
Burnt sweet toffee with lots of mouthwatering acidity, caramel, very long finish with more toffee.
Footnote:
94 points in 2/2003, 19,5% volume of alcohol.

1907
Blandy Bual

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This 1907 Boal was of a dark mahogany color, just a little darker than the D'Oliveira 1903.
Nose:
The nose also displayed some darker aromas, more on the roasted side with coffee, vanilla and toffee but very soft and rounded.
Palate:
The palate was very accessable, easy to drink with good acidity but very harmonious, then some vanilla and butter fudge, very creamy and soft.
Footnote:
94 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007.

1905 D’Oliveira Verdelho
This wine was also quite cloudy with a bright iodine brown, brighter than I had expected and showed a weird nose with an initial blast of burned sulphur, also lots of VA and stewed fruits. On the palate there was little sweetness, lots of acidity, citric lemon flavors, also some nuttiness, but the wine was not well integrated, the acidity seemed hot and spirity, even raw, when ending with a bitter, roasted finish. I have had this wine a couple of times before and this one usually is a very fine and nutty example of Verdelho. Something was certainly wrong with this bottle, so no points here. 7/2009.

1905
Luiz Filipe Costa Moscatel

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting, very oxydized and crumbly cork of medium length.
Color:
Medium dark iodine with golden rim.
Nose:
Intense honey and sweetness, filling the room in seconds, very harmonious.
Palate:
Very sweet, lots of honey, soft and rounded, bitter finish of medium length with coffee and ashes. Definitely not very typical for Moscatel but nevertheless very pleasant.
Footnote:
94 points in 12/2005. The only bottle of this producer I have ever encountered.

1903
D'Oliveira Bual

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This wine had a dark mahogany color with orange rim.
Nose:
The nose was very strong and harmoniuos, vanilla, toffee and a little beef bouillon.
Palate:
The palate was complex with vanilla, toffee and dried fruits, powerful and still seemed a little raw like it needed even more time to develop (and that after more than 100 years...). The long and powerful finish displayed some bitter coffee aromas at the end and seemed also a little raw. Well, may be it does need more time?
Footnote:
95 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007.

1903 D’Oliveira Boal
Chuck had opened this wine many months before the tasting, so we were anxious to see how well it had kept. Showing a brilliant dark brown color, this Boal was not only in perfect shape, but also showed how beneficial a long decanting time can be. The nose was a perfect Boal nose with fudgy caramel, slightly nutty and still a little VA. The palate was equally impressive with lots of creamy caramel, backed by still crisp acidity, walnuts, and a long toffee finish, all very rounded and harmonious. A wonderful and classic Boal, at its best after being opened half a year ago! 97 points in 7/2009.

1900
Adegas de Torreao Vinhos Lda., Boal
This bottle with an IVM paper seal had been bought in Portugal. The stencils had been damaged by leaking bottle in the package, but they were still clearly legible and the cork was printed with "Adegas de Torreao, Vinhos, Lda, Madeira". The wine showed medium bright iodine and featured a mellow and harmonious nose of toffee and ginger cake. At the first sip the wine really jumped at you, with lots of acidity, just a little spirity at first, caramel, toffee and fruit and then... a short and bitter finish, leaving the mouth yearning for more. From the nose and the first attack I had expected a bit more length and body, but the wine was nevertheless interesting. After three hours in the glass it developed more length, even though the wine had been decanted 8 days before.
92 points in 6/2008.

1900
D'Oliviera Verdelho

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
Clean mahogany color with a iodine rim and just a little glycerin on the glass.
Nose:
The nose had some volatile acidity, ginger bread and some nice burnt flavors to it.
Palate:
In the mouth there was a pleasant balance of sweetness and acidity and some coffee, but the wine lacked a little depth. The finish was rather short.
Footnote:
92 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. Also a very old bottling tasted for 93 points in 8/2002 with a long bitter coffee finish and more complexity.


1900
D'Oliveira, Moscatel

Even though I have known this wine a long time, liking it for a long time I am always happy to taste this Moscatel Madeira. These Moscatels are rare today, the only other two wines that are still available are the 1875 Moscatel from D'Oliveira and the Moscatel Reserva Velha from Artur de Barros a Sousa, two wonderful wines as well. This Moscatel showed a warm and dark chestnut brown with orange rim. The nose was all sweet figs with a little bread as well. On the palate the wine was very sweet, showing just enough acidity to balance the sweetness, and then there were lots of raisins, caramel and a little molasses. Also in the finish the wine showed a slightly roasted impression keeping it from being cloying despite the dominant sweetness. A wonderful wine that wins me over every time and a perfect wine for the end of the tasting.
95 points in 6/2008, 92 Points in 12/2012.

1900
Barbeito Malvasia

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This wine was a llittle cloudy from transport. The color was a rather cold mahogany.
Nose:
The nose had a strong marmalade flavor with some strawberry and tomato to it.
Palate:
It tasted very powerful with lots of vanilla and brown sugar, very concentrated with rich sweetness and good acidity. The finish was just a little hot.
Footnote:
86 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007.

1900 Manoel de Sousa Boal
Since little is known about this producer, I had bought two bottles of this wine at auction for a relatively low price. The cork seemed to be very short, just 13mm in length, so I had recorked the wine before the flight to the U.S., destroying a beautiful MSH (Manoel de Sousa Herdeiros) wax seal. The wine showed a rather dark cola color, the darkest of all wines, with an orange brown rim. The spicy nose was very impressive with prunes, stewed fruits, a little VA to make it even more complex. In the mouth the wine was quite sweet, but the sweetness was overpowered by a nearly insane acidity. The wine was very concentrated with caramel, toffee, quite complex and harmonious, with a long and slightly bitter but highly acidic finish. The acidity was so high, it almost seemed to be not fully integrated. A wine for acid freaks, powerful and concentrated, I liked it a lot. 96 points in 7/2009.

1898
Barbeito Sercial

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
The color was just a little lighter than the 1862 D'Oliveira Sercial, being more of a golden tawny with golden rim.
Nose:
The nose displayed some burnt toffee and a muddy saltiness that seemed a little to much like wet cardboard. I do not think that this was a bottle stink because the wine had only been bottled 4 years ago and this muddiness was only just detectable.
Palate:
The palate was a little lighter and less acidic than the 1862 D'Oliveira Sercial, some nuttiness there and a nice bitter finish.
Footnote:
88 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. This Sercial came from the Afonso family in Camara de Lobos and was bought by Barbeitos and bottled in 2002. The wine had at least spent 80 years in wood and had then been transferred to demijohns.

Henriques and Henriques Sercial Solera
The wine is somewhat cloudy, with a warm chestnut brown with greenish highlights. The initial nose displays a strong blast of volatile acidity, but it quickly softens to warm and spicy gingerbread with cloves and aniseed. The palate is very dry, highly acidic, with a basic bitterness that reminds of Terrantez (and with an old Solera wine you never know what different grapes went into the mother cask…). Hazelnut and nougat mingle with coffee and roasted malt. The wine has a general roughness that seems to be a little out of place with a Solera, but it features a wonderful oily texture and a bitter, almost smoky finish. I really wonder if they added a little Terrantez to this one. 91 points in 12/2012.

1895
H M Borges Malmsey
Another cloudy wine, but the brilliant reddish iodine brown sure makes up for it. The nose is rather one-dimensional with lots of caramel and just a hint of figs and dates in the background. Taking the first sip the wine is all toffee sweetness, almost too sweet, but the acid fights its way through and then the sweetness shifts to a grapey impression with a spicy background. The long finish is very sweet again, with grapes and raisins. 93 points in 12/2012

1890
Cossart Gordon, Malmsey
This wine was another highlight of the tasting. With dark iodine color and a very harmonious caramel nose it showed its full power in the mouth. The wine was very impressive with lots of sweetness but well balanced, raisins were dominant at first, but also bread, huge amounts of caramel and a creamy toffee taste as well, mellow and mouth watering, then a shift towards more darker and roasted aromas with coffee and molasses and finally a long toffee finish. The roasted aromas kept the wine from being cloying and so this malmsey was very pleasant. A perfect wine, a classic malmsey, complex and impressive.
96 points in 6/2008.

1886
1886/1887 Blandy’s Terrantez
This is the first wine to start the afternoon. The 86/87 blend once belonged to Graham Blandy who passed in on to his children in 1972. Bob Maliner bought the bottle from Christie’s in 1979. The bottle bears a simple white label with black lettering, showing the misspelled word “Terrantrez”. The wine is supposed to have spent only 13 years in wood, but the medium dark iodine with reddish rim suggests longer cask age. The wonderful nose is powerful, almost funky with some volatile acidity and dark molasses. The palate is medium dry, austere, very concentrated and quite powerful, almost a little raw with its high, piercing acidity and a rather prominent backbone of typical Terrantez bitterness. The finish is long and highly acidic and still the Terrantez “heart of darkness” shines through. May be the wine needed even more airing? It got four votes from the tasting group. 92 points in 3-2012.

1885
Barbeito Verdelho

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This wine had a clear and bright mahogany color with slightly orange rim and lots of glycerin on the glass.
Nose:
The nose for me was the most favorite of all the Verdelhos at the tasting because it was very accessable, very mild, round and harmonious, no VA, but a nice toffee flavor to it.
Palate:
On the contrary the palate seemed to be rather one-dimensional and light, with toffee, very little orange peel and a rather short finish.
Footnote:
87 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. In my opinion this was the weakest wine of the first flight

1882
AO-SM/Miles, Verdelho
This Verdelho had been bought by the MWC from D'Oliveiras in the 1970ies or 1980ies, shown by the letters AO-SM (Anibal D'Oliveira, Sao Martinho) on the bottle. A lot of the bottled wines had these letters removed later since the mid 1990ies but this bottle had been older, so the letters were intact. This wine has been sold under Blandy, Cossart and Miles labels. The wine showed a warm and dark iodine color with long legs in the glass. The nose was wonderfully harmonious with just the right amount of VA to add complexity, toffee and dates as well. The palate showed a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, in fact the wine was quite sweet for a Verdelho, lots of fruit and raisins, toffee and creme brulée, also a background of roasted aromas that were also dominant in the long fruity finish. A wonderful wine and the first highlight of the tasting!
95 points in 6/2008.

1880
South Side Madeira Association Malmsey
A little cloudy at first this wine shows a reddish iodine color with orange rim. It has a warm caramel nose, all sweetness and harmony, with hints of cinnamon and mashed bananas – very pleasant. On the tongue this Malmsey is very sweet but by no means cloying with a good amount of acidity. Lots of malt and toffee are kept interesting by a touch of bitterness in the background; the long sweet finish is all toffee. Very pleasant and easy to drink, a fun wine, and again this could be a very well made blend, lacking in individual character. Nevertheless a beauty! 95 points in 12/2012.

Funchal Wine Company Maciera Verdelho Solera
The color of this wine is a very impressive dark cola brown. A sweet and oily nose shows vanilla and cinnamon, lots of caramel, but also a strange cucumber vegetable smell. The palate is soft and rather sweet with only little acidity, some chocolate is there as well, but the fun is absolutely ruined by that same vegetable taste that the nose already showed. What a pity after the impressive color had promised so much. I kept revisiting this wine again and again, but the disgusting vegetable note was still well detectable. It would be unfair to award any points, since it was definitely a faulty bottle.

1878
Henriques & Henriques Sercial Solera

Bottle:
Bottle of industrial make, leaking from the transport, only half full. The bottle had just a short stopper-cork and the wine was leaking through the foil cover. Little crusting, indicating that the bottle had been stored upright.
Color:
Bright mahogany with orange rim, a little cloudy when tasted first, directly after receiving the leaking bottle in its wet packing.
Nose:
Wonderful and very harmonious bouquet of burnt aromas with a sharp lemon overtone.
Palate:
Powerful acidity comes first, then lemon and after that a rounded richness. The acidity is mouthwatering, balanced by the richness that almost gives the impression of sweetness, but the wine is definitely dry. Long finish with bitter lemon and persisting acidity. A wonderful wine with cleansing acidity.
Footnote:
96 points in 12/2006. To bad half of it had been lost on the transport.

1878
Justino Henriques Filhos Lda. "Fanal" Fine Madeira Wine

Bottle:
Modern bottle of early industrial make, neck label with vintage, wicker cap, short leaking crumbling cork, light crusting, small tax stamp on the bottle.
Color:
Bright mahogany with orange rim.
Nose:
Intense and harmonious, filling the room in seconds, molasses, beef bouillon, orange peel.
Palate:
Lots of alcohol but not spirity, good sweetness with lots of balanced acidity, mouthwatering, caramel, molasses, roasted coffee beans and the orange peels again. Long orangy finish. Reminded me of Boal (even though no grape variety was mentioned on the label) but it could also be a good Tinta Negra Mole wine.
Footnote:
95 points in 1/2002.

1877
Hedobald Petersens Madeira Crown Sercial

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting, chipped bottle neck so the short stopper-cork was leaking a little.
Color:
Bright iodine with orange rim.
Nose:
Beef bouillon with molasses and rather pleasant soy sauce note. Very harmonious.
Palate:
An overall impression of harmony, molasses, medium sweetness and good acidity to go with it. Long finish of ginger cake, toffee and a slightly bitter coffee note. Not at all typical for a Sercial, much more like a Boal. 4 hours after decanting the wine started to dry out.
Footnote:
93 points in 12/2004.

1875
D'Oliveira Moscatel

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
The Moscatel showed a dark iodine, almost mahogany color.
Nose:
The nose was rather subdued, none of the typical Moscatel flavors, a little dried fruit and raisins only.
Palate:
The palate was very sweet and concentrated, good acidity, a little cacao and candied orange peel. The finish was rather short.
Footnote:
93 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. Compared to other desert Moscatels like moscatel de Setubal I wonder were all the typical Moscatel flavors went.

1872
Quinta do Serrado Terrantez
This wine had not been part of the huge Quinta do Serrado parcel sold by Christie’s in 1989 and 1990. The Rare Wine Co. bought this wine, which came from the same vast estate as the 1827 Boal and the 1830 Malmsey sold by Christie’s, directly from the Henriques family in 1997. This Terrantez is darker than the previous wine, still medium dark iodine. The nose is also very powerful, less VA, but still well detectable, toffee and a little vanilla also there. The first sip shows an elegant and very balanced wine, with lots of molasses, also a hint of vanilla, medium sweetness, but still enough acidity as a counterweight. The wine has a wonderful silky texture, goes on with gingerbread aromas and ends with a typical Terrantez bitterness to keep it interesting. Even though I liked it a lot, the wine got zero votes from the group. 94 points in 3-2012.

1870
Blandy’s Terrantez

Patrick Grubb, longtime British Madeira wine merchant, sold this bottle in 1995, stating that it had be bottled in 1962. The color is almost the same like the QdS 1872 T, maybe a little darker and a little more on the cold side. With its rich nose of figs, molasses and a yeasty background it is quite promising, also a little VA boosts the expectations. On the tongue the wine is rather sweet, very appealing, quite fruity and grapey, very accessible with a rounded and well balanced appearance that is all about fruit. Still it has enough acid to keep the wine from being too sweet. The finish is quite long, but the typical Terrantez bitterness barely shows in the end. This is a very interesting wine. I liked it more, every time I came back to it and it overtook the QdS for first place just in the last seconds. However this wine is not very typical for Terrantez, it reminds me a little of a rich Boal. The group gave it 14 votes, making it the wine of the first flight. 94 points in 3-2012.

1865
Miles Tinta
(from the Bianchi family)

Bottle:
Heavy bottle, blown in mold and rotated. Small stencils MILES MADEIRA and a damaged paper label reading "Tinta 1865, Res..., H..d. ... anchi, Fernando M. de Bianchi"
Color:
Bright tawny with golden rim.
Nose:
Piercing VA, then honey, butter and a rounded and pleasant herbal quality, also some petrol-like notes, very promising.
Palate:
Bone dry entry, highly acidic and rather spirity, reminding me of an old Cognac. Unfortunately allready dried out and faded. The wine improved considerably after a few hours, still very high acidity, but softened now, more pleasant and well developed Cognac notes. The finish is short and bitter, ending with cough medicine.
Footnote:
Tasted 11/2007, not awarding any points. Hmmmm, I did expect more, since it was the first really old Tinta vintage for me. The wine was well beyond its peak, but still it was very interesting to taste. The nose rose expectations that the palate could not live up to... I will mark this one down for experience, not for drinking pleasure.
There was a Fernando Bianchi who was general manager for the Madeira Wine Company (Madeira Wine Association back then) in the 1960ies.

1863
Barbeito Bual

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
The color was a clear dark iodine with tawny rim.
Nose:
The nose started with a little vanilla and dried fruits, but then some vegetable-like rather dirty smell with rotten strawberries.
Palate:
In the mouth you had some vanilla again, also toffee and balsamic vinegar that also showed in the rather short finish.
Footnote:
Tasted at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007, no points awarded since I think this was a faulty bottle. Clearly this was the weakest wine in the second flight.

1862
D'Oliveira Sercial

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This wine was a little cloudy, displaying a iodine color with a little red. Lots of glycerin there.
Nose:
The nose had some volatile acidity that did not bother at all. Other aromas I could detect in the nose were burnt coffee and orange peel.
Palate:
The palate was quite explosive with lots of acidity, counterbalanced by some richness and a nice roasted coffee taste that seemed a little atypical for Sercial. The finish was very long and bitter with an ashy taste to it.
Footnote:
93 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. For me this was the better of the two Sercials tasted and the second best wine in the first flight.

Rutherford & Miles Terrantez
This first of the three 1862 Terrantez wines is an absolute rarity with only three bottles appearing at auction between 1971 and 2010. This one comes from the collection of Bob Maliner. The color is medium dark and rather warm chestnut brown with orange rim. After a small initial amount of VA, the nose displays caramel with a spicy background. In the mouth the wine is powerful and concentrated, quite sweet in the beginning, but then it evolves into a spicier Terrantez with high levels of acidity and the typically bitter Terrantez backbone. Like a story unfolding, the wine develops as you taste it, a wonderful Terrantez for grown-ups. It got 5 votes from the tasting group. 95 points in 3-2012.

H. M. Borges Terrantez
This is Michael Broadbent’s famous desert island wine, reaching an extraordinary six stars in his book “Vintage Wine”. Dr. Maliner told us how Michael Broadbent first tasted this wine from Bob’s collection and after having tasted the 1862 started crying because Michael was so overwhelmed with it. It certainly was the wine of the flight, reaching 13 votes with its sweet sandalwood nose, including an appetizing whiff of VA and its warm brown color, quite similar to the R&M 1862 T. On the palate the wine is rather sweet, misleadingly harmonious at first, but quickly a bitter Terrantez backbone and lots of acidity burst through, together with caramel and hints of coffee. Contrary to the R&M this wine is very complete and ready, with a mellow but still quite complex and long finish. I admit even though the wine is very good I had entertained higher expectations because of Broadbent’s six star rating, however it was still wine of the flight. 96 points in 3-2012.

1860
Blandy Sercial Solera

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting, lead foil cap with imprinted grape, short stopper cork.
Color:
Bright mudy iodine.
Nose:
Very subdued, little fruit, some toffee, not impressive.
Palate:
Very dry, some spirity alcohol, then piercing lemon-like acidity, long bitter lemon finish. After a few hours the wine was no longer spirity but the lemon-like acidity stayed, making this a mouth-cleansing classic Sercial.
Footnote:
93 points in 3/2004.

South Side Madeira Association Verdelho
Another SSMA Verdelho, this time showing brilliant iodine brown with orange rim. Contrary to its SSMA 1850 V counterpart, the nose of this wine is rather subdued, displaying just a little caramel and a hint of honey. On the palate the wine is definitely sweeter than the 1850; in fact the sweetness seems to be at the upper end of the typical Verdelho range. Soft caramel is dominating, but there are also lovage and toffee, all very mellow and rounded, with a warm and sweet caramel finish. Again this might well be a blend, but again a very good one. 92 points in 12/2012.

1850
D'Oliveira Verdelho

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
The wine was very cloudy, probably because of the recent transport by plane into the U.S. just a week ago. The color was a nice medium dark mahogany with tawny rim, again lots of glycerin on the glass.
Nose:
The nose had quite a lot of volatile acidity and was very rich, with toffee, dried fruits and some caramel.
Palate:
On the palate this wine was very rich, with a good sweetness and well balanced acidity. There were also toffee, caramel, coffee and orange peel, all very harmonious but multilayered. The finish was slightly bitter at the end, very long and just a little hot.
Footnote:
97 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. This wine was my personal favorite of the first flight. For me this was also one of the top three wines of the tasting! This wine had spent 138 years in cask before being bottled in 1988. The bottle had stencils on one side and a very colorful label of the German importer on the other side.

South Side Madeira Association Verdelho
The color of this wine is absolutely gorgeous iodine with a brilliant orange core – amazing! The nose is also quite impressive with just a little VA, candied orange peel, honey and an overall impression of warmth. On the tongue this Verdelho shifts to a higher gear, with powerful acidity, a hint of sweetness and a slightly bitter background. There is caramelized sugar, hazelnut, a little coffee, but it is all rather soft and mellow and the overall impression of warmth stays with you till the sweetish end. This might well be a blended wine, but if so, it is well done! 93 points in 12/2012.

1846
Blandys Terrantez

Bottle:
Punted bottle of early industrial make. Crusting indicates storing in a lying position. Short and moist cork slightly leaking.
Color:
Medium-dark iodine with tawny rim, glass-coating viscosity.
Nose:
Very powerful nose with lots of different aromas but very harmoniously mixed. Also some strong beefy tones are evident.
Palate:
This is a super-concentrated wine with almost too much acidity. Powerful grape aroma, very rich and the acidity is overwhelming. I did not think that such concentration was possible in a wine. Very long and slightly bitter finish with persisting acidity and richness. Long after that I could still taste some burnt coffee in the corners of my mouth.
Footnote:
Tasted for 99 points in 06/2003, level brought up with sterile glass balls and recorked. I kept the empty glass for two days as a room deodorant. Wow - I had expected so little from this wine and then it was such a marvelous experience. This bottle was opened again at Roy Hersh's great Seattle Madeira Wine tasting 01/2007 and it was just as good in 2007 as it had been in 2003, scoring 99 points again. Now I also noted a vanilla richness i did not get before.

H. M. Borges Terrantez
This first wine of the famous 1846 vintage was bottled in 1900. The appearance is somewhat cloudy; the color is muddy medium dark iodine, a little on the cold side. The sweet toffee nose is elegant and promising. On the palate the wine is very sweet but also highly acidic with loads of caramel. The Terrantez bitterness is not as prominent here as in some other wines of the tasting, but the wine is very complete, rounded, with a creamy texture, complex with layers of different nuances of sweet toffee and caramel and ends with a long and almost creamy finish with just a hint of bitterness. The group gave it three votes. 96 points in 3-2012.

Cossart Gordon Terrantez Special Reserve
Next was the Cossart Gordon Special Reserve. The wine is a little darker than the HMB of the same vintage. The nose is rather subdued, a little caramel there, also some diesely aromas but going well with the overall impression of age. In the mouth there is lots of sweetness, powerful acidity, but perfectly balanced and rounded, also caramel, a hint of cinnamon, bread and molasses, with a general impression of richness and opulence. The whole wine is carried on a bitter Terrantez base layer to a long acidic finish. It’s a very well defined wine with power and complexity, wonderful. It got three votes from the group. 97 points in 3-2012.

Avery’s Terrantez
This wine was probably purchased by Avery’s of Bristol in the 1950ies from the Madeira Wine Company, called Madeira Wine Association back then. The color is medium dark iodine with a grayish rim. The nose is not very prominent, but promising with phenolic sweetness, spices and some caramel. The first sip lets me immediately think of the CG wine, just as sweet, just as powerful and also well balanced. It’s all there, the typical Terrantez bitterness as well, the molasses and the long finish. For me the wine was a little less complete though, when compared to the Cossart Gordon wine. It could well be the same wine however, may be bottled at a different date with a different label, who knows? It got 6 votes from the tasting group, tying it with the Leacock wine for wine of the flight. 96 points in 3-2012.

Leacock Terrantez
The last wine tasted from the 1846 group was also the most mysterious one. Until the 2008 Leacock sale at Christie’s, this wine had not been traded at any auctions. It sure is darker than the other 1846 Terrantez wines, with a dark chestnut brown. This is might be due to the fact, that for reasons unknown this wine was matured in malmsey casks, so it became sweeter and darker than the normal run of Terrantez. The nose is sweet with toffee as is the palate with its sweet and balanced toffee richness. The acidity is not as prominent as in the other 1846 wines, as is the Terrantez bitterness. Nevertheless the wine delivers the complete package, with creamy caramel, a little nutmeg and a wonderfully bitter Terrantez finish of considerable length. So is this the same wine like Avery’s and the CG? Hard to tell, but when Eric inspected the bottles, he found all three glass bottles to be identical. So does this prove that the same wine is in all three bottles? Certainly not, but it proves that the wines must have been bottled at about the same time and also probably in the same facility. By the way, thinking back to the wonderful Blandy’s 1846 Terrantez wine I tasted with Roy in Seattle in 2007, I am quite certain, that the Blandy’s wine was completely different from any of the other 1846 wines tasted this time. The Blandy’s wine was not as sweet, more on the smoky side and with a strong hint of vanilla that I did not really find in the other 1846 wines this time. The Leacock wine gained six votes, tying it for wine of the flight with Avery’s Terrantez. 96 points in 3-2012.

1845
Cossart Gordon Centenary Boal Solera
This Solera wine features a dark cola brown with cold, almost purple rim. The nose is rather one-dimensional with toffee and caramel, not very complex. The palate is quite sweet, with enough acidity as a counterweight, lots of caramel and toffee again and that is it. The wine ends rather short, but with a soft and pleasant caramel finish. It is a very mainstream, caramel-type Solera wine. 91 points in 12/2012.

1839
Terrantez (private source)

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting, short moist cork, unfortunately leaking a little and destroying the beautiful coat of arms wax seal on top of it.
Color:
Golden iodine color.
Nose:
Intense sweetness with volatile acidity, ginger cake.
Palate:
Very, very concentrated palate, intensely fruity with good acidity and only a little sweetness. Bitter finish with medium length, showing some of that ginger cake again together with a harmonious coffee note. This is the classic Terrantez style!
Footnote:
96 points in 3/2006.

1839 Terrantez (producer unknown)
I had bought this wine at an auction a couple of years ago, together with a second bottle with no label, but of similar appearance. Supposedly both bottles contained the same wine (and looking back, I think it was the same wine), so I had opened the bottle without a label in 2006, finding it to be a perfect example of a highly acidic Terrantez. Knowing that Roy likes Terrantez and acidity I just had to bring the second bottle to this tasting. It had only a small handwritten paper label (fastened with scotch tape…) with “Terrantez (Madeira)” on it. It also featured some more writing after the “(Madeira)” that looked like “Pyreivan”, but I could not really convince myself to think of “Pereira” as in Pereira D’Oilveira. So the exact producer of this wonderful wine remains unknown. It featured a dark brown coffee color, also a little cloudy. The nose was lively and multi-layered with coffee, singed caramel and a little VA that softened nicely. In the mouth there was a perfect mixture of some sweetness with very high acidity, rich and decadent, but very precise, fudgy, with a hint of cinnamon, ending with a very long finish of brown sugar and coffee, and still that pinching acidity was shining through. Wow, what an amazing wine. To me there is no doubt that Madeira wine is at its best when produced from the difficult but rewarding Terrantez grape. Unfortunately there is no way to tell where this wine came from. 98 points in 7/2009.

1838
Private source Verdelho

Bottle:
Old, early machine made bottle, driven cork, lead foil capsule. Only a small paper slip label with "VERDELHO 1838", nothing else, no producer, no initials, nothing. I had seen a similar bottle at a shop in Lisboa/Portugal a few years ago. This bottle was one from a pair of twins that had been bought from a private source in Switzerland in 2001.
Color:
Muddy dark brown.
Nose:
As soon as the cork got out, the most anoying bottle-stink you can imagine filled the room. It was terrible! Somebody else entering the room said something about rotten cockroaches inside the bottle, but I couldn't find any... I decanted it three times to make sure the wine got good air contact, but it did not change very much. Six hours later the smell was still terrible and I feared for the worst. It wasn't VA but a wet cardboard-like smell mixed with ammonia... I decanted it once more and let it breathe over the night. The next morning I went back to it to find the smell a little less unpleasant. The nose opened up considerably after three days, lots of rounded toffee and caramel, ginger cake, together with a pleasant diesel-like fragrance that can be found in old Rieslings. The bottle stink almost disapeared, if i didn't know it had been there so badly, i could have easily missed it.
Palate:
When I took the first little sip my mouth got burned by pure acidity, lots of lemon fruit, no sweetness, not unpleasant but definitely undrinkable. The palate opened up a lot after three days, but the acidity was still overwhelming, and the concentration was so high, it made you throat sore. When the first acidic attack had passed there was lemon and other fruity aromas (pineapple, peach), pleasant but overpowered by the acidity. I tried to mix a little of this wine with water, but the result was not encouraging.
Footnote:
Tasted 8/2007, no points awarded. Is this just unrefreshed wine that has become so overconcentrated that it passed the state of being drinkable? Or is it some mixed fake wine? (Even though I doubt that.) Or is it simply a wine gone bad?

1836
Acciaioly Malmsey

Bottle:
Bottle of early industrial make with colorful label, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This Malmsey had an intense medium dark tawny color.
Nose:
The nose displayed marmalade flavors with cherry and a little soapiness that did not really bother.
Palate:
The palate showed a high concentration, lots of toffee aroma and a wonderful creamy, almost oily finish.
Footnote:
94 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. Unfortunately Acciaioly went out of business half a century ago, so their wines get harder to find all the time.

1835
Nicolas Madere Imperiale

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, completely crusted, lots of sediment, heavy lead foil cap over a long, crumbly but moist cork, branded with "Nicolas depuis 1822".
Color:
Brilliant iodine with golden rim, certainly one of the most beautiful madeira wine colors I have ever seen.
Nose:
Sweet ginger cake with only little volatile acidity. Also some burnt coffee and a distinct toffee note, all very harmonious.
Palate:
Very spirity at first with lots of volatile acidity. After 3 hours beginning to soften, medium sweetness balanced by fierce piercing acidity (now I know what Michael Broadbent means when he writes of rapier-like acidity!), coffee, fresh bread, some hints of the cough medicine like taste that old Malmsey sometimes has. It all ended with a superlong bitter finish. A multilayered wine of extreme concentration!
Footnote:
Tasted for 95 points in 2/2004. When asking the company of Nicolas, Paris about the wine, they told me it had been bottled in the 1980ies. They advised me not to open it, because "you will only have taste of acidity, best to keep it just for collection." How wrong they were! This particular wine has been sold by Nicolas for a very long time. I came across an inventory of Nicolas of 1937 were they list a "1835 Madere Imperial Reserve" for 50 fr. per bottle, one of the most expensive wines in the whole list. I have been told by a frequent visitor to Paris, that as late as the mid 1980ies there where casks of Madeira wine in the cellar and bottling was done in small batches according to demand. So it looks like Nicolas acquired some casks of Madeira wine and bottled the wine until the casks were empty. Of course this must have led to tremendous concentration over the years. Another bottle with a slightly different label and foil cap tasted 8/2007 with the same pleasant results, scoring 95 points, cork branded with "MADERE 1835". The difference of label, cap and cork supports the theory of different bottling periods. Another (leaking) bottle tasted 6/2008, scoring 93 points. The color was medium bright ebony and the nose still had some VA after 8 days of decanting, but also fruit, toffee and violets, two days later I also noticed pipe tobacco and bees wax. The palate showed lots of acidity, but well balanced with medium sweetness, fruit and violets again, also some roasted aromas in the background that led to long and bitter finish. A concentrated wine and quite complex.

1834
Barbeito Malvasia

Bottle:
Modern stencilled bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
The color was a medium tawny.
Nose:
A strange chemical nose that had marmelade, honey and dried fruit. The strange note would not clear and I think Roy hit it best with calling it an artificial "plastic" note.
Palate:
The taste was rich with coffee and toffee, but also had a strange quality to it, something oily, leathery, artificial.
Footnote:
92 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. This is the oldest wine of Barbeitos now available in Funchal after they bottled up all of the 1795 Terrantez. May be this was a faulty bottle? I have had this wine several times before and it can definitely do much better.
Tasted again in 10/2007 (a 1998 or 1999 bottling) and much better now, scoring 96 points. The nose was abundant with caramel and raisins and very powerful. The palate showed even more power, featuring concentrated dried fruits, with raisins dominant and even more caramel and toffee. Very long finish, underlined by the perfect amount of acidity that kept it going and going. What a great value, what a great wine. I am glad things are back to normal.

Barbeito Terrantez
This whole fourth flight shows a step up in darkness of color. The 1834 Barbeito Terrantez features dark coffee brown and at first is not very promising with its very subdued caramel nose that also shows a hint of cinnamon as well as some ripe honey aromas. In the mouth however the wine is very powerful, highly concentrated, like an elixir, very sweet, with tons of yummy caramel, toffee, molasses, all balanced by powerful acidity, lasting forever it seems with its long acidic finish with a well integrated Terrantez backbone. It got three votes from the group. 97 points in 3-2012.

1830
Quinta do Serrado Malmsey

Bottle:
Modern stencilled bottle of industrial make, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
This wine had a brilliant iodine color with a slightly redish center, a little lighter than other Malmseys.
Nose:
The nose showed vanilla, toffee, some figs and was very rounded.
Palate:
On the palate you had a very impressive balance of power between acidity and sweetness, together with toffee, some leathery aromas and concentrated brown sugar. The finish was very long and I liked this wine a lot.
Footnote:
96 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. I gave it the second place in the third flight.

1830 Justino Henriques Sercial Solera
Since this bottle had only been 2/3rds full, I had been able to buy it at a very competitive price. I expected next to nothing from this particularly wine. Interestingly, the label said "Solera of the Vintage", but I still think it was a Solera wine. The wine had been bottled by Vinhos Justinos Henriques, but originally came from the estates of Joao Alfredo Faria. The previous owner of the bottle had bought it about 50-60 years ago and it was found again when he cleaned out his cellar. The bottle was #178 of a total number of only 700 bottles. The wine had a muddy brown appearance, very cloudy, probably stirred up sediment from the transport. The sweet and spicy toffee nose had considerable VA and walnuts. The palate was quite sweet for a Sercial, in fact the wine seemd a little on the soft side, especially for a Sercial. There were nutty flavors, some roasted, slightly bitter aromas, but the wine was not very complex and had a bitter and acidic finish of medium length. Certainly not in the top ranks, but not a bad value for the bargain price. 92 points in 7/2009.

1828
Blandy Boal Solera

Bottle:
Modern bottle of early industrial make, light crusting, little sediment, short and moist cork, only kept in place by the wax cover.
Color:
Iodine brown with lots of glycerine, orange rim.
Nose:
Subdued fuity nose, harmonious.
Palate:
Very concentrated, medium sweetness with lots of acidity to balance, fruity and mouthwatering, long and harmonious finish, excellent!
Footnote:
96 points in 12/2002, 23% of volume alcohol.

1827
Quinta do Serrado Boal

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, handpainted, driven cork of medium length with wax cover, moist and in excellent condition.
Color:
Brilliant dark mahogany with tawny rim.
Nose:
In the nose this wine was all vanilla and syrupy molasses, very rich, rounded and harmonious.
Palate:
On the palate this Boal was super concentrated, with maximum acidity yet well balanced with considerable sweetness. There were lots of vanilla again, toffee, brown sugar and maple syrup. The multilayered finish just went on and on and on.
Footnote:
98 points at the Great Seattle Madeira Tasting 01/2007. For me this was the winner of the second flight and one of the top three wines of the tasting! This wine from Camara de Lobos had been matured in oak casks until 1935 and had then been put into demijohns. Just before the sale at Chistie's in 1989 it had been bottled in 1988.

1827 Quinta do Serrado Boal
This is one of my all time favorites and I was very happy to see, that Chuck had brought this wine to the tasting. This Boal showed a brilliant dark iodine brown with a slightly red center. The nose was a little subdued, with hints of VA, caramel and toffee. The palate shifted to a higher gear, with elegant sweetness in perfect balance with powerful acidity. This wonderful Boal displayed brown sugar, multiple layers of nutty caramel, a hint of vanilla, and a long and acidic caramel finish with a little roasted coffee in the end. Hmmm, the taste kept sitting in the far corners of the mouth for a long time, a wonderful example of Boal, perfectly showing why this is considered a classic collectors Madeira. 97 points in 7/2009.

1818
Listao (private source)

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting, red wax seal slightly broken, but not leaking.
Color:
Pale iodine.
Nose:
Caramel, honey, orange peel, ginger cake, little alcohol, very harmonious.
Palate:
Spirity and rather dried out, lots of acidity, ashes, burnt coffee and then it is gone - just a short bitter finish.
Footnote:
Tasted 10/2005, no points awarded. The only old Listrao I have ever had. The bottle had a stencilled LISTAO 1818 on it, why the R was missing I don't know. The nose clearly showed an old wine and the palate indicated an old wine too, well beyond its peak. Still I can't rule out the fact that the bottle might have been a fake. 20% of volume alcohol, so it sure was a fortified wine.

1802
Acciaioly Terrantez

This is the darkest wine of the tasting with a dark cola color and a slightly reddish rim. The nose is very pleasant with sweet caramel, aromas of liquorice and toffee. And then the palate – wow! The wine is so powerful, it rolls over you like a tank; it is power and concentration in perfection, yet very complex. You really have to work your way through this wine, through layers of caramel, toffee, molasses, cinnamon, as well as a nuance of roasted coffee. And then when you think you reached the end, the wine opens up and shows a beautiful Terrantez “heart of darkness” glowing vibrantly in the dark. The finish has to be measured in minutes, with the pleasant Terrantez bitterness shining through till the very end. This is a wine to kneel down and pray. It is certainly one of the top three Madeira wines I have ever tasted, interestingly all of them Terrantez wines, with an unknown 1839 and the 1846 Blandy’s being the other two. This perfect sample of Terrantez got 11 votes from the group, making it wine of the flight. 99 points in 3-2012.

1799
R.V. seco (Reverva Velha, private source)

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting, red wax seal slightly broken.
Color:
Pale iodine.
Nose:
Some fruity sweetness, honey, little alcohol, subdued but very harmonious.
Palate:
Dry with very much acidity, mouthwatering, oily feel in the mouth, very concentrated with little fruit. Short finish with coffee and ginger cake, already a little dried out and tired.
Footnote:
91 points in 10/2005. From the same source as the 1818 Listao, also stencilled and possibly a fake too, even though nose and palate were consistent with a very old wine beyond its peak.

1795
Barbeito Terrantez

Bottle:
Modern bottle of industrial make, light crusting.
Color:
Medium tawny.
Nose:
Quite flowery and fruity nose, very harmonious.
Palate:
Lots of acidity, only very little sweetness, an overall impression of a fruity dryness that lead to a long and slightly bitter finish, still with powerful acidity.
Footnote:
94 points in 10/2003 in Funchal and 95 points in 1999 in Funchal. The bottle in 10/2003 had been opened 4 months ago and may be that was the reason why the wine did not taste as fruity as in 1999 when the bottle had only been opened two days before the tasting.

Barbeito Terrantez
This wine is a long time favorite of mine. Unfortunately since the last bottling of the remaining 23 bottles in 2006 it has become increasingly harder to find. However it still surfaces at auctions from time to time. The wine originally belonged to the Hinton family. Oscar Acciaioly bought the wine from the HIntons and later it was devided between his descendants. Marion Barbeito bought part of the remaining wine and returned it to wood. The wine was also sold as “1795 Terrantez Garrafeira Particular” with stopper corks. The color is a warm and medium dark iodine, the nose has little VA, is quite floral, ethereal, very elegant. On the palate the wine is rather sweet, rounded, with some caramel, toffee and that typically bitter Terrantez background. The wine is powerful, concentrated, a wonderful example of a sweet-style Terrantez with a long finish of Terrantez bitterness and warm toffee. The tasting group gave it five votes. 96 points in 3-2012.

Companhia Vinicola da Madeira Terrantez
Finally, we arrived at the 1795 vintage – certainly the most famous vintage of Madeira wines. For years I had been hunting for a tasting note of the CVM 1795 Terrantez, but apart from a few personal reports there never was a published TN to be found. This bottle of 1795 CVM T had been bought by Alan Gardner at a Christie’s auction prior to 1991. It was a stenciled bottle and according to Alex Liddell there were only ever two dozen of these. So now the CVM stands in front of me and shows a warm medium dark iodine color with chestnut rim. The nose is wonderful with an overall impression of warmth and concentration, also showing some toffee and vanilla. In the mouth there is an initial wave of brown sugar sweetness, also vanilla again, caramel, sweet toffee, all coupled with high acidity with perfect balance. Also some darker aromas linger in the background, ashes, roasted coffee and of course the typical Terrantez bitterness. The acidic finish is very long and ends with a short glimpse of coffee. This wine is very impressive, a little more focused than the other two 1795 wines and got eleven votes from the tasting group, making it first wine in this flight. 97 points in 3-2012.

F. F. Ferraz Terrantez
For decades this wine had been extremely rare, when suddenly 20 bottles sold in one day at Christie’s Leacock sale in December 2008. This wine had also been part of the Graham Blandy collection, passed on to Adam Blandy and then given to Chris Blandy who brought it to the tasting. The bottle itself is quite impressive, dark and heavy with a relief of F. F. Ferraz & Co Lda Madeira on the shoulder. The wine itself shows a medium dark oaky brown, a little cloudy. The nose is lean and elegant, shows a little VA, very promising. The palate is quite sweet, with high acidity, concentrated and powerful, loaded with toffee and typical Terrantez bitterness and a long acidic finish. Personally I didn’t like this wine as much as the other two 1795 wines, since this sample didn’t seem as multidimensional as the CVM and the Barbeito wines. But some participants who had the 1795 FFF before thought, that it did not show up to its ability. However it still got 2 votes from the tasting group. 95 points in 3-2012.

South Side Madeira Association Terrantez
The slightly cloudy appearance is offset by a wonderful chestnut brown with reddish core. In the nose there is a little VA to start, then caramel, cacao and honey, all wrapped in an overall impression of spicy warmth, very pleasant and very promising. The palate too starts with a sweet and spicy base layer, but the sweetness is well balanced with powerful acidity. Caramel shows in abundance, together with notes of coffee and cloves, molasses and just a hint of nutmeg, leading to a long spicy finish. So is this really a Terrantez and if so, is it the same wine like the CVM 1795 Terrantez? Very probably not! Like the other SSMA wines, this one seems to be a little too soft, too easy to drink to be genuine old and concentrated vintage Madeira. You could argue that this softness might be the general style of the SSMA, and I would have to admit that I really don’t know. If it is a blend, then it is certainly a very, very good one. If it is vintage Madeira then it is still very good, but not in the same league as the other 1795 Terrantez wines from Barbeito, Ferraz and the CVM that we had in NYC. This 1795 Terrantez (?) wine still is remarkable though and I would like to taste it side by side with the CVM wine one day. 94 points in 12/2012.

Terrantez (producer unknown)
Cork with no signs of the producer, relatively small. Medium dark iodine with orange core and reddish rim, beautiful color, very promising. The nose is sweet toffee all over, no VA at all, cream, hints of vanilla, melting butter, just like grandma cooking her homemade toffee candies 40 years ago – amazing! In the mouth there is an initial sweet-sour attack, lots of acid, refreshing Terrantez bitterness, hazelnut, dark espresso beans, lots of toffee, lingering vanilla in the background, balanced with piercing (but by no means harsh) fruity lemon-like acidity. The acidic finish is very long with beautiful Terrantez-bitterness and a hint of roasted and candied almonds till the end. 95 points in 3-2013

1794 (?)
Adegas de Torreao Real Madeira Verdelho
The wine is rather cloudy with medium dark iodine color. The subdued nose shows sweet caramel and a little gingerbread. In the mouth this Verdelho has a sooth silky texture, it is astonishingly soft and light, on the sweet side, rounded and mellow, very mainstream with sweet toffee and Demerara sugar and a short sweet finish. I am pretty sure that this is not a vintage wine from 1794! Much more likely this is a blend and not even a very good one. When you take a close look at the label, it reads “Reserves from 1794” so this might rather attribute to the general portfolio of the Adegas de Torreao. The bottle neck carries the remains of an alternative JNV seal of authenticity. The grape variety is not mentioned on the main label, but on a small neck label. 91 points in 12/2012.

1792
Blandy's "Napoleon"

Bottle:
Three-part mold, burgundy shaped, dark-brown color, little crusting, crudely re(?)corked and sealed with dark-brown wax, wearing a small cardboard tag with "Blandy's 1792 Napoleon Madeira" on it. The cork was moist and in good shape, consistent with an age no older than 40 years. No label, no stencils on the bottle.
Color:
Brilliant medium brown iodine.
Nose:
Very floral nose with a varnishy lift to it, coming close to Broadbent's "crystalized violets", promising.
Palate:
Off dry, faded, dried out, even rather spirity, evidently very old, but starting to desintegrate and well beyond its peak. Reminding me a little of a faded old Cognac, no telling what the original grape variety was.
Footnote:
Tasted at a private tasting in 4/2005, no points awarded. The owner swore it was the famous "Napoleon" Madeira. He had gotten it from a private U.K. source. The seller had told him that there was a cellar book record, suggesting that it was indeed the 1792 wine. As I understood there had been several bottles of that wine. I still have doubts about the authenticity of that bottle, especially after seeing another bottle of the 1792 with different shape and the remains of a Blandy's paper label.

1790
H. M. Borges Terrantez

The final flight featured two wines from one of my favorite producers: H. M. Borges. Henrique Menezes Borges left several old Madeira wines that he considered being his best to his children. The 1790 shows beautifully brilliant medium dark iodine with a slightly reddish rim. The nose displays an initial blast of piercing VA, then burnt sugar and pleasant toffee. The wine is medium dry, highly acidic and very, very concentrated. A little toffee and caramel are enveloped by a rising cloud of dark Terrantez bitterness. It’s a powerful wine with the concentration and bitterness almost overwhelming, ending with a bitter finish of medium length. This Madeira might be a little over the top but is nevertheless still very impressive. It got zero votes from the tasting group. 94 points in 3-2012, 92 and 93 Points in 3-2013.

1760
H. M. Borges Terrantez

This was the last wine of the tasting, last but certainly not least. The 1760 Terrantez shows the same brilliant reddish dark iodine like its younger brother from 1790. The nose also shows a little initial VA, with some roasted aromas, caramel and a note of petrol. On the palate the wine is highly concentrated and very, very acidic. The wine is so powerful, almost over-concentrated; you have to fight the first attack of overwhelming acidity and Terrantez bitterness and then suddenly the pace becomes slower and aromas of caramel, toffee, cloves and coffee shine though. The finish is long and quite bitter, but with a short glimpse of acidity at the end. It is a very good and powerful wine, almost over the top, but still hanging in there. What a wonderful wine to end the truly Transcendental Terrantez Tasting; with 18 votes from the group. 95 points in 3-2012.

Vintage Wines without a known vintage year

Terrantez Old Reserve, Vinhos Justino Henriques
This is always one of my favourite wines. Color of medium tawny, nutty nose with caramel and some VA as well, but the palate is the real winner: just a little sweetness but nevertheless very rich and silky, with strong acidity, layers of walnut, toffee and always a hint of bitterness in the background that goes on to a long finish. A very complex wine. The exact age is unknown, and estimates range from 40 to 70 years, but you don’t really care once you drank it. This wine gives a very good impression of the glory of old and concentrated Terrantez vintage Madeiras – for a fraction of the price. 95 points in 10/2003 and 95 points in 3/2008.

Henriques & Henriques Terrantez Reserva
The “heavenly quartet” of old H&H wines is well known, but there are more members of this group, amongst them an old Verdelho and this Terrantez Reserva. Only a few bottles have been left and that means that H&H will not sell this wine, so it is really nowhere to find. This bottle belonged to the John Cossart collection and had been sold to the Rare Wine Co. From what Alan Gardner had been told by John Cossart, the wine might be either vintage 1825 or 1827. As Mannie Berk told us, the wine had been rather closed after the long bottle storage. So the Reserva was put into demijohns and aired for six months before being bottled and recorked in fall 2011. This wine is the lightest in color of the fourth flight, with its dark and shiny iodine. The nose is very pleasant, sweet and grapey, elegant. On the palate the wine is medium sweet, rounded and mellow, not as heavy and powerful as the other two examples of the flight, but combines elegance with enough power, acid and complexity, with caramel and toffee floating on a layer of typical Terrantez bitterness. The wine is lean, elegant, well defined and very precise and focused, with a very long acidic finish. It is a wonderful sample of Terrantez, with four votes from the group. 97 points in 3-2012.

Undated H. M. Borges Terrantez (believed to be 1862)
After being sold at the 2008 Leacock sale from Christie’s, the question remained, if this wine could be the 1862 HMB Terrantez. Apart from the wines quality also the stenciling hints at the HMB wine. So now, finally side by side with the 1862 HMB Terrantez came the moment of truth. This wine has the same warm chestnut brown color; however the nose is quite subdued, still sweet and harmonious though, almost like a small brother of the HMB wine. On the palate it is quite sweet, with lots of acidity and a well detectable Terrantez bitterness in the background, leading to an acidic finish with some caramel in the end. However I was distracted by a vegetable-like aroma that never really got away. Judging from that single experience I don’t think it’s the same wine like the 1862 HMB. On the other hand it had been tasted at the two Leacock tastings and had shown much better. This time it got no votes from the tasting group. 92 points in 3-2012.

February 10, 2007

The Tasting of Madeira Wine

Some general thoughts about Madeira wine tasting
To be able to assess a wine most objectively, it is important to mind a few things. The setting has to provide you with the best possible conditions for tasting. That means that the room should be well lighted with a rather neutral white and indirect lighting. You will need a white background to be able to judge the color of the wine. If the tablecloth is not white, some white paper or cardboard can do. The room should be free of smells because the excessive use of perfume or smoking will impair your ability to judge the bouquet of the wine. To drink some water between the different wines can help to neutralize the palate. Also a little dry bread or crackers in between will be fine. It makes no sense at all to eat something with a strong taste when it comes to the tasting of different wines. So any cheese, dried tomatoes, olives, hors d'oevres and other things should wait until after the tasting. The glass should be a plain glass of a medium size to provide you with enough room to swirl the wine. The best shape is a tulip like glass to concentrate the volatile aromas in the opening. Madeira does not need refrigeration, in fact it should never be refrigerated before tasting, since this would slow down the evaporation of aromas from the wine. It is crucial to decant old Madeira wine at least 24 hours before the tasting, especially to get rid of the sometimes rather high volatile acidity (VA). Even a cheap 5YO blend will benefit from three hours in the decanter. Simply pulling out the cork will not do the job. The decanting into the decanter and back into the bottle after a few hours will be enough in most cases, but some old Madeiras, especially after a long time in bottle will need more than that.

Even though some aspects of the color, nose and palate are quite unique to Madeira wine, there are some general characteristics in a wine that can be assessed. These will lead to an overall impression of the quality of the wine. The following characteristics and many of the aromas further down are quoted from Alex Liddell's "Madeira", extended with some aspects of my personal experience with old Madeira wines. Taste is a very personal thing I know, but in most of the tastings I have been, it was surprising (well, was it?) to see, that most participants could agree on the order of rank of the wines. So there must be some basic aspects that make some wines better than others. And as I have said many times before, any reader who really wants to go deep into Madeira wine, especially with tasting and tasting notes just can not do without Alex' "bible"; please refer to the bibliography section of this website for more details.

Color
pale : dark
opaque : bright

Nose
high on VA : low on VA
simple : complex

Palate
light : weighty
dry : sweet
fruitless : fruity
flavorless : flavorsome
high acidity : low acidity
coarseness : finesse
simple : complex
unbalanced : balanced
short finish : long finish
simple finish : complex finish

Apart from these general characteristics there are a few characteristics typical to Madeira wine (and some other fortified wines too). These typical features need some explanation:

Volatile acidity (VA)
Volatile acidity is best described (in my humble opinion) as a distinct smell of an acetone-like or paint-thinner-like spirity vinegar. While just a little of VA can lead to an extra dimension and enrichment of the nose and even the palate of a wine, to much of it will be rather unpleasant. As mentioned above, decanting helps with VA. Some people are more sensitve to VA than others, so the wine really needs to be decanted well in advance. Swirling the wine in the glass will bring out any remaining VA again. Volatile acidity or acetic acid is produced by a certain bacteria called "acetobacter" that lives best at 40°Celsius/100°Fahrenheit and oxidizes alcohol to acetic acid. Given the fact that Madeira wine has lots of alcohol and is heated during the estufagem or the canteiro process, it is not surprising that some Madeira wines have a rather high volatile acidity.

Non-volatile acidity = acidity
Madeira is a rather acidic wine. Keep in mind that the Sercial grape is called "Esgana cao", dog strangler, on the Portuguese mainland. Especially with a long concentration in cask, this can sometimes lead to an almost unbearable acidity. Four different acids make up most of the non-volatile acidity: tartric acid, citric acid, malic acid and lactic acid. The first three acids are predominant in Madeira wine. In some white wines and in most red wines, the so-called malolactic fermentation will lead to a reduction of malic acid and an increase in lactic acid. This does not change the chemically detectable overall acidity, but will lead to a softer and rounder impression of the wine. Madeira wine of course never undergoes malolactic fermentation, so the acidic character of the wine remains. There are other wines that exceed Madeira wine in total chemically detectable acidity (like German Rieslings, especially icewine), but only few wines are percepted as acidic as Madeira wine. As with VA, decanting also helps with non-volatile acidity, since some time with air helps the other aromas to develop and thereby leads to a more complex impression of the palate. As long as the acidity is counter-balanced with enough fruit and/or sweetness, high acidity will not be a problem.

Alcohol
Because of the high alcohol content of about 20% of volume, Madeira wine is sometimes judged as spirity by people who are more sensitve to alcohol. A higher amount of alcohol leads to more weight and body, as long as it is well integrated. With prolonged age even Madeira can become dried out and the impression of a spirity wine increases because little flavor is left to balance the high amount of alcohol, especially since the amount of alcohol increases with long cask ageing. Also of course there are faulty bottles that can display all sorts of unpleasant smells and flavors. The alcohol of these wines often gives an impression of a paint thinner like aroma.

Sotolon
Sotolon [3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethyl-2(5H)-furanone] is an organic compound from the family of lactones and has a strong aroma of fenugreek or lovage at higher levels and caramel or burnt sugar at lower levels. Madeira wine is the wine with the highest levels of sotolon (or sometimes written sotolone) anywhere in the world, so sotolon adds to the unique characteristics of Madeira wine. The levels of Sotolon rise with cask ageing, so older wines display more sotolon. Also Madeira wines with a higher residual sugar content have higher levels of sotolon.

Madeira wine as an aphrodisiac?
Over the last fifteen years I have heard numerous stories about the aphrodisiac-like effects of Madeira wine. The general impression was, that even when you subtracted the effect of the alcohol itself, there was still a considerable ability to turn on people in an erotic way. In the beginning I though these were only stories, but after a discussion thread in the FTLOP-MWG forum, I set out to do some more research. If it was indeed a feature of Madeira wine to arouse people more than other wines, then it had to be attributed to the aromatic profile of Madeira wine. Some other fortified wines have the same alcohol content and some wines even have more alcohol, so alcohol alone could not explain this. Reading in an old pharmacists book about herbs for kitchen use, I came about an entire chapter on lovage. And this might well be the solution: Madeira wine has the highest amount of sotolon, an aromatic lactone that is present in lovage. As the name suggests, lovage has been used for centuries to arouse peoples sexual desires. In most of the different European languages lovage carries a name associated with its arousing capabilities. In German it is called "Liebstöckel" (love sticklet), in Czech its name is libeček, and the Polish name is lubczyk, both meaning 'love herb' and the Swedish name is libbsticka (love stick) again. In the middle ages girls from Franconia carried a small bouquet of loveage under their dress to bewitch their lovers. Loveage was also supposed to protect against evil sorcery. So in general I get the impression that these 'special qualities' of Madeira wine (if they really do exist) can largely be attributed to the unique aroma-profile, especially to the high content of sotolon.

In the following some features are described to look out for in a Madeira wine. Especially with the nose and the palate it can be helpful to really focus on just one of the features to try to detect it in the wine. Experience of course will help you a lot. But even without much experience, it can be helpful to memorize the taste of candied orange peel for an example, focus on that taste, take a sip of wine and try to find it in the wine.

Color
Often found colors in a Madeira wine are tawny (like in a tawny Port), orange, mahogany (a rather cold brown, sometimes almost a little purple), iodine (a warmer color then mahogany), bronze, amber, gold, even yellow and green. Of course the color should be judged against a white background. Some white paper will do the job. Looking at the surface of the wine in an angle that the light is reflected by the wine can give you some reflexes of a different color. The rim of the wine in the angled glass can also show a different color.

Shades of pleasure.

Shades of pleasure.

Nose and palate
Often found aromas in the bouquet of a Madeira wine can be devided into groups. From a strictly biological point of view the ability of the tongue to taste is very limited. Most of the tasting, especially of the more complex aromas is done in the nose. So it makes sense to describe the aromas of nose and palate together. Some aromas are more volatile than others and this will lead to a stronger impression in the bouquet. But of course the aroma will also be present in the wine when tasted in the mouth, even though it may not be as evident as in the nose. Vice versa this is the case with the not so volatile aromas that will have a stronger impact on the palate than the nose. Swirling the wine in the glass will bring out the more volatile aromas as well as the volatile acidity. Chewing the wine and breathing in though the wine-filled mouth will do the same. After you swallowed the wine it is worth waiting some time, since the fading of the taste can bring out some not so evident notes that were before covered by the stronger aromas. Also working with your tongue into the far corners of the mouth can sometimes be surprising.

The different groups of aromas and flavors are:

Wood flavors
Pinewood, eucalyptus, oak.

Phenolic flavors
Vanilla, turpentine, varnish, balsamico, martini rosso, coconut.

Caramel flavors
Black treacle, toffee, barley sugar (an old fashioned english hard candy made by boiling down sugar with an extract of barley added), honey, malt, coffee, chocolate, root beer, caramel, maple syrup.

Spices
Cinnamon, cloves, saffron, pepper, nutmeg, lovage, curry.

Nutty flavors
Almonds, walnuts, pistachios.

Dried fruit flavors
Apricots, plums, raisins, figs, peaches, orange, lemon.

Smokey flavors
Ash, burnt coffee, toasted bread, roasted onions.

Other flavors
Yeast, seaweed/brine, salt.

Of course these are just some of the many aromas and flavors to be detectable in Madeira wine. That is what tasting in a group is all about, to get some different ideas and opinions and then work with these. So this is the place to say thanks to Stefan for the discovery of Martini Rosso in an old Malmsey in 2001 and to Eric LeVine for the roasted onions comment at the 2007 Seattle Madeira Wine Tasting!

Cask aged Madeira vs. bottle aged Madeira
Bottle aged Madeira wines are something that had long haunted me. Ever after having read Alex Liddell’s “Madeira”, at the end of chapter 12, I wondered if there really was a difference between bottle aged and cask aged wines. For years I had tried to find the same wine from different bottlings, at least 20 years apart. I had tasted two bottles of the Barbeito 1834 Malvasia and the 1863 Bual, about 15 years apart, but I had not been able to tell the difference. May be my palate had not been finely tuned enough or the difference in age had not been big enough? After all what are 15 years for a wine 170 years old?
But in 2007 I purchased a bottle of D’Oliveiras 1922 Bual at auction that carried a JNV paper seal, indicating it had been bottled prior to 1980. I had another bottle of the same wine, bottled in 2005, so I hoped that 25+ years would make a difference this time – and it did.
Of course you have to consider the fact, that the JNV bottle had been stored in a private cellar, so these storing conditions might not have been perfect, but after all it is Madeira wine, so let’s hope it was not severely affected in any way.
The bottle aged wine seemed very much like a smaller brother of the cask aged wine. It was not as concentrated as the cask aged wine which spent about 30% more time in wood. The cask aged wine was richer, opened up a lot faster and was easier to drink being rounded with very nice toffee, butterscotch and crème brulee notes. The bottle aged wine took a whole day to open up, had much more volatile acidity and was leaner; more subdued, but at the same time left a more elegant expression.
Before that, I had thought that all the talk about bottle aged Madeiras was may be just about a difference in concentration, due to the extra time in wood for the cask aged brother. But –at least from this single experience- the difference is obviously more.
I definitely preferred the cask aged wine. Those 25+ years of extra time spent in wood turned a good wine into an outstanding wine, because of more concentration, more depth, and more different layers of aroma.

February 05, 2007

Tasting notes are online now!

Many tasting notes are online now! I will dig out all the older tasting notes eventually and post them as time permits. Even though I have tasted a lot of the 3 YO, 5YO, 10YO and 15YO blends, right now I do not intend to post them, since this would really lead to an overflow of tasting notes. Also the colheitas and harvest wines will have to wait.
Please enjoy reading the tasting notes - feedback wellcome!