« April 2009 | Main | October 2009 »

July 26, 2009

FTLOP-MWG Seattle Madeira Tasting 2009

What a complicated name for such an enjoyable thing like this tasting of six old Madeira wines. Ever since Roy’s exceptional tasting in 2007, I had wanted to re-taste with Roy, but only when I visited the U.S. in July 2009, was there a chance to meet Roy again. Summer is not the typical time of year to seriously taste a lot of high-alcohol heavy wines, but for real Madeira wine fanatics, there is open season all year round. Roy had invited his friends Chuck and Justin to the event. I knew both guys from the Seattle tasting in 2007 and really looked forward to that evening. We had a perfect time tasting six old Madeiras and this tasting was crowned by a delicious dinner, some other serious wines (a 1976 Schloss Eltz Eltviller Sonnenberg Auslese Riesling among them) and a lot of interesting conversation. Thank you guys for such a wonderful experience, I would bring a great bottle of Madeira for a tasting with you anytime!

Tasting notes of the wines, in order of the tasting:

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.

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.

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.

Three of the wines tasted.

Three of the wines tasted.

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.

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.

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.