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October 18, 2008

Berlin IVBAM Madeira Tasting 2008

Berlin is always worth a visit. But on Thursday, October 16th, this was even more so. The AICEP, the Portuguese chamber of foreign investments and commerce represented by Matthias Meichsner had invited for a tasting of Portuguese wines. Having joined forces with the Independent Winegrowers Association IWA and the Instituto do Vinho do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira IVBAM, 10 different producers presented almost 80 wines for tasting.
From Madeira island, four producers had come to Berlin. Henriques & Henriques Vinhos SA was represented by Humberto Jardim, who had brought the full range of blends, as well as a medium rich 1998 harvest wine. The Madeira Wine Company SA, represented by Jaques A. Faro da Silva showed a wide range of blends together with four different colheitas and a single harvest wine from 1998. Americo Pereira from Vinhos Barbeito Lda. had brought many blends and also the unique 2000 Malmsey single cask 44a, the 20yo lote 6072 and a single harvest wine from 1997. Last but certainly not least, Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda. had brought the full range of blends, also some wines bottled under their East India brand and the 1996 colheita. Julio Fernandes was their representative and shocked me with the sad news of the death of Sigfredo da Costa Campos, owner of VJH, with whom I had met just a couple of months ago at the Düsseldorf ProWein wine fair. I still remember sipping on their Old Terrantez Reserve with him and his energetic wife Helena. After John Cossart, this is another tragic loss to the community of Madeira wine lovers. Julio Fernandes lightened my spirits though by giving me a bottle of VJH’s 10yo Malmsey, one of my favourite 10yo blends. This was only topped by Paulo Rodrigues, chairman of the board of the IVBAM, giving me a beautifully embroidered apron from Madeira that will have a place of honour in my Madeira wine cellar.
After a perfect afternoon of tasting Madeira wine and eating delicious Bolo de Mel, a Madeira wine seminar with Portuguese wine expert David Schwarzwalder was yet another highlight. My head was filled with pleasant tasting memories (and some Madeira wine too) as I took the train home. A big thank you goes to Matthias Meichsner of AICEP for the invitation, to all the representatives of the producers and to Paulo Rodrigues of IVBAM. From the reaction of the 150+ wine lovers attending the tasting, I would conclude that it was a successful event and one that should be repeated in 2009.
Amongst many other wines, the following wines had been opened for tasting:

Henriques & Henriques Vinhos SA
Medium Rich Single Harvest

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.

Madeira Wine Company SA
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.

Vinhos Barbeito Lda.
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.
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!
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.

Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda.
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.