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November 02, 2010

Hamburg IVBAM Madeira Tasting 2010

Arriving at Hamburg the weather was rainy, cold and rather windy – perfect conditions for the tasting of Madeira wines. On October the 27th, the IVBAM, represented by Joao Nunez and the Portuguese chamber of foreign commerce AICEP, represented by Matthias Meichsner, held their annual Madeira wine tasting in the north-German Hanseatic-League town. After the very successful tasting last year, this year was even a step up. Five producers had come to Hamburg to present their range of blended wines as well as some Colheitas, single harvest wines and Frasqueiras (=vintage Madeiras): H. M. Borges Lda, represented by Goncalo de Spinola, Henriques & Henriques Vinhos SA, represented by Humberto Jardim, the Madeira Wine Company SA, represented by Ricardo Tavares, Vinhos Barbeito Lda., represented by Marianna Pinto and Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda., represented by Julio Fernandes.



The afternoon started with a Madeira Master Class about Madeira blends. This event was hosted by Michael Pleitgen, head of the Berlin Weinakademie, associated with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust WSET. He gave an hour long presentation about the special features of Madeira wine that contained lots of information for even the seasoned Madeira wine veterans. First we learned some Madeira wine history, heard about John Hancock, the 1768 Madeira party and the sons of liberty. Then the focus shifted to geography, with information about soils, climate and the building of the levada irrigation system. After grape varieties, viticulture, the wine-production and the different styles of Madeira, we went on to taste four samples of 10 year old blends and the MWC’s Alvada 5 year old blend.



After the Madeira Master Class, the five producers offered their range of wines for free tasting, accompanied by a delicious variety of food, perfectly matched to the wines by the chefs of the Hamburg Raddison Blue hotel. Over 40 wines were to be tasted; tasting notes of 14 of them are listed below. The overall level of quality and the price-value-ratio were even higher than in 2009.

A great thank you goes to Joao Nunes, IVBAM and Matthias Meichsner, AICEP for the invitation to this perfect event, as well as to the producers for generously sharing their Madeira wines. Over the last years now these tastings have become a jour fixe in the autumn time for Madeira wine lovers in central Europe. It is fun to see that each time the IVBAM and AICEP somehow manage to even top the level of last year’s event. No doubt these events boost the popularity of Madeira wine amongst wine lovers and help restore its rightful place at the top of the fortified wines.



H. M. Borges

10 years old Sercial

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

1995 Boal Colheita

This Colheita features a bright but cold iodine brown color with a voluptuous caramel nose together with a small amount of volatile acidity. The palate offers an intense layer of toffee with a good measure of fruity acidity, some vanilla is also there. Last time I also noticed some dark and roasted aromas that I didn’t really find this time. A long sweet and acidic toffee finish ends this tasty Colheita. 92 points 10/2010



Henriques & Henriques

10 years old Malmsey

This wine shows a medium dark mahogany color, the nose is dominated by raisins, some roasted aromas and a little VA. The palate is very sweet but the sweetness is also perfectly counter-balanced with high acidity. Toffee is dominating the palate, but a little smokiness and the high acidity keep the wine from being cloying. The finish is also a little smoky so it all works out perfectly. This wine may not be the most complex one, but is powerful and very pleasant to drink. 90 points 10/2010

20 years old Terrantez

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



Madeira Wine Company

5 years old Blandy Alvada

I like this entry level but very well made blend with its medium mahogany color and its rich and fruity nose. The sweet and very fruity palate and the surprisingly long fruity finish make this wine very easy to drink and very enjoyable. 90 points 10/2010

Cossart Gordon Colheita Sercial 1997

The bright straw color of this Colheita is very appealing; the sweet nutty nose with a little ginger and cinnamon is very elegant. The palate is dry and refreshing, nutty, a little ginger again in the background, lots of clean acidity and a dry nutty finish of medium length. 91 points 10/2010

Cossart Gordon Colheita Bual 1997

This Colheita shows a medium dark mahogany color with sweet and soft toffee nose with a touch of vanilla, hmmm. The palate is quite sweet, with lots of toffee, walnuts, a sweet vanilla backbone and a sweet almond finish of medium length. This is a nice and rather typical Bual Colheita. 92 points 10/2010

Cossart Gordon Colheita Verdelho 1998

The color of this Colheita is medium dark iodine, with a subdued nutty nose. The palate is rather sweet for the Verdelho range, but soft and elegant, with a nutty base and a soft toffee layer on top. Just when you think that this is a little mainstream some darker coffee aromas appear and lead over to a slightly bitter finish of medium length. An interesting wine! 92 points 10/2010

1976 Blandys Terrantez Vintage

This was my favorite wine last year in Hamburg and it repeated first place in 2010. The color is dark mahogany with a rather aggressive nose with 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 mysterious impression, and finally a lot of dried fruits. The nose keeps amazing me, even though I have had this wine a couple of times now. The palate is nutty sweetness at first, with 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. Every time I just think: Wow, what a great wine, hard to believe it only had 21 years in cask. 94 points 10/2009



Vinhos Barbeitos

10 years old Verdelho

This Verdelho blend shows a rather bright iodine color, with an appealing fresh but nutty nose with a tough of wood in the background. The palate is quite sweet for the Verdelho range, but soft and mellow with a nice mélange of walnut, toffee and caramel, no roasted aromas whatsoever, so the overall impression of softness goes through until the walnut finish of medium length. This blend is perhaps a little mainstream, but the perfect wine to sip when it is cold and rainy outside. It was the first wine of the Madeira Master Class and really made me feel welcome. 90 points 10/2010

1988 Sercial Vintage

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! 92 points 10/2010

2002 Colheita Canteiro Single Cask 110, Tinta Negra sweet

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

Vinhos Justino Henriques
10 years old fine dry

The wine has a medium bright warm brown with orange rim and a nose dominated by lemon and citrus aromas so intense it leaves the impression of a lemon candy. There is no nuttiness whatsoever, but intense fruit with a slightly vegetable-like background, still very pleasant though. The palate is dry, but with lots of fruity citrus aromas –pineapple, lemon, a little orange- leading to an almost sweet impression. This wine is all about citrus fruit, with an acidic finish of medium length, no toffee or caramel, very impressive and refreshing. 91 points 10/2010

1996 Colheita
This Colheita still is my favorite TNM wine, with its dark iodine brown color and its rich nose of figs, nuts and coffee. The wine is quite sweet on the palate, perfectly balanced with just the right amount of acidity, then toffee, almonds, walnuts, also some darker more roasted aromas as well. I have been following this wine for four years now and probably had it a dozen times. It seems to become more rounded and mellow, but the complexity and the long grapey finish still make it fun to drink every time. 92 points 10/2010