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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.

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