Posts Tagged : all about wine

Bread with Ham

Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira

Carlitos, how much is two plus two?

– Four, teacher.

Carlitos grew up, people started calling him Mister Carlos (and last name), and he realized, in a moment of good idleness, that 2 plus 2 might not be 4. He realized it while eating a sandwich of good bread and excellent ham.

In gastronomy, math is frequently, in the arithmetic field, a non-exact science. The sum of bread, with its sweetness and some bitterness, and the ham with its salt – simplifying: they’re better together.

The unity is strength… if not sloppy. Between right and wrong, pairing wine (or other beverages) with food is a game of pleasure, of guessing and talking. Some tend to match by affinities, some by disparities. It’s just like love relationships:

– What a beautiful couple, they live together for 50 years now. They have so much in common, it could only go right.

– What a beautiful couple, they live together for 50 years now. Were they not so different and surely would’ve been divorced after the first year.

Customer’s choice! This gastronomic challenge is culturally enriching. By itself, food can be just food. To me, there’s great difference between eating and feeding oneself. I feed myself to live, since I’m no plant, and therefore, I do not perform photosynthesis. I eat for pleasure, just like I like cinema, plastic arts or poetry. Wine is just alcohol if we don’t extract pleasure from its color, aroma or taste.

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Wine & Food in


I must confess I’m kind of uncaring regarding the color. It’s useful to understand flaws or evolution, analysis tool, function and not shape. I don’t get drunk with ruby or amber. The same doesn’t happen with the aroma and mouth behavior.

Still, wine cannot be just wine, even if you like it a lot… a glass at lunch, another at the end of a day’s work and another for dinner… a few others at a party – If you drive, don’t drink.

Wine must be seen as a polygon. If seen as just wine, what purpose do the natural and human conditions that make up the terroir have? Inside a glass there’s, or there might be, history, literature, music, memories of a book, memories of affections.

I don’t like to cite myself or speaking egocentrically about myself, but this is an exception. I don’t own others’ experiences. And if who diverges wants to mock, then do it at my expense – since I own the prose – and not at others’.

One of this days I was object of laughter because I publicly described a wine as a geographical indication. Maybe I could enumerate a diversified bouquet, with some real flowers, some induced, suggested, made up and plastic. It was a fantastic wine, of great complexity. That Porto wine was from Óbidos, from a huge planter like a forest, hanging on a white wall of a real treat house.

Another time I defined a wine with the word «Christmas». I could have sung a rigmarole: cake batter, dried fruits, candied fruit, spices, blah, blah, blah… – oh boring boredom! Yes, it’s a pleonasm.

The more we add, the bigger the result – unless we pick heartbreaks. Every adding of history, anthropology and art means more that its unity. The result can be a simple and synthetic word… I assure, and rightly that I’m a good talker and scribbler.

Blandy, a Dynasty Connected to Madeira wine

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

Blandy’s story starts with the arrival of John Blandy to Madeira. Two centuries of a traders’ dynasty whose important connection to the Madeira wine began in 1811 with wine exportation when the company got established. He bought the estate where today lies the old winery in Funchal – Blandy Wine Lodges. After the exportations’ decline due to the devastating plagues, first the Oidium Tuckeri in 1851 and then the Phylloxera in 1872, from the association of several wine exportation companies, in 1913, the Madeira Wine Association is born with the purpose of relieving the business’ associated costs. It was around then that a lot of those companies weren’t able to resist the less favorable times and ended up closing and selling their stocks to Blandy’s. In 1925 Blandy’s joined M.W.A. which in 1986 changes the name to Madeira Wine Company SA.

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Blandy Wine Lodges © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

A remarkable story of a family that has played a significant role in the development of Madeira wine whereas at the same time expanding its activity to various other sectors such as banking, insurance, ship repairing… Two hundred years later Blandy’s remains a family business where Michael and Chris are the 6th and 7th generations to work in the business.

If in a previous article I stated that Henriques & Henriques were the first great Madeira wines that I had the chance to taste, Blandy’s were certainly those which through the years settled my liking and enthusiasm for Madeira wine as oenophile. Visiting Blandy’s was one of those special moments. Really, just being sat there in that amazing tasting room is worth a Madeira trip. The tasting was in charge of one of the greatest worldwide oenologists, Francisco Albuquerque. It was a privilege to be able to have there a great lesson about Madeira wine with an included tasting.

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Francisco Albuquerque © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

It’s still interesting that Madeira wine is a wine that nourishes over time, needs time to grow, not months or days but years, and the more the merrier, meaning more complexity and magicalness. Obviously, the focus goes to some of the tasted Vintage/Frasqueira:

Blandy’s Malmsey 1988
One of the great wines I had the chance to taste was the Malmsey 1988. This wine spent about 25 years in casks before the releasing of 1600 bottles to the market, in 2013. Stands out for the set’s freshness and exquisiteness as well as the precision and incredible detail which present well-defined aromas. Huge complexity and balance, candied orange from the get-go, fig, dates, tobacco, lots of spice, flowers with dry fruit in the background, the wine unfolds in layers. Conquers the palate with class, curry hints followed by raisins, fig raisins we can almost bite harmonizing perfectly with the nose. Great balance between acidity/fruit/sweetness.

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Blandy’s Frasqueira Wines Tasting Room © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Blandy’s Terrantez 1976
Again and as usual, what stands out here is the fantastic elegance of the whole set, this piece of work as precise as watchmaking is the brand’s calling card. In this case it’s a Terrantez 1976 showing itself quite more elegant than the Terrantez 1977 when were tasted side by side. This wine’s complexity is astounding, all very delicate yet deep and complex, with curry hints in a chocolate and orange scrapes set, dates, slightly balsamic, toasted caramel, nuts, all wrapped up in a great acidity which joins an aroma of polished old furniture. In the mouth it’s a polite monster, slightly sweet on the way in, and then breathtaking with a freshness which invades the whole palate. Renews the nose’s sensations, has that bittersweet touch which tills the tongue until the very end, harmonizing perfectly with the fruit and acidity.

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Blandy’s Verdelho 1973 Sample Bottle © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Blandy’s Verdelho 1973
The following wine is a perfect exemple that the Madeira wine needs and demands time. A Verdelho 1973 which is only now being released to the market. Another great wine of this house, initially restrained but a lot of complexity, unfolding in thin layers, cigar, passion fruit, freshness and liveliness in a set with plenty of harmony. The liveliness of the aromas stands out. The set impresses with the dryness in the palate along with a mix of a very slight unctuosity/sweetness which gives it a whole new dimension and puts this Verdelho in this house’s hall of fame.

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Blandy’s Bual 1920 © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Blandy’s Bual 1920
It’s a stunning wine at all levels, it’s complicated for me to describe such enclosed emotion in a bottle every time I have in front of me, be it in the glass or the bottle. We’re talking about the mother of championships, this Bual 1920 has the rare ability to simply shut us up. We can be chatting but when it’s this 1920’s turn, people stay quiet, stare, smell the glass… stop, re-spin and smell the glass again, and with a smile start to ramble. The bouquet is some kind of amazing, concentrated, fresh, sinful, and again of a huge elegance. Starts with hint of lacquer, opens and then gives joy. Toffee, nuts, box of cigars, aromas wrapped in a fresh and slightly unctuous cape filled with dates, figs and candied fruit. All of this transpires to the palate which comes in at full steam, unctuous, lickerish to then show itself with great elegance, freshness and a very long and persistent finish. Unforgettable.

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Blandy’s Verdelho 1887 © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Blandy’s Verdelho 1887
In 2011 it was identified a Verdelho which was laying in demijohn of 50 liters, a Verdelho 1887 that would end up being bottled in 2013. Stands out by its tone, with those beautiful emerald green edges which indicate a respectful age. The aroma is a huge party, starts with a hint of lacquer and then calming down and awakening to its fullness. A touch of old wood along with candied fruit, English cake, fig and apple-pie in a never-ending number of aromas the wrap it in a whirlwind of emotions. Stunning mouth, large, deep, tense and mysterious. Very good fruit presence regarding the nose, still clean and fresh. This is an 1887 wine that we’re talking about. Complements itself with caramel, orange peel scrapes, green coffee beans in a mix that combines the initial slight sweet and fruity touch with the dry and unctuous ending.

Blandy’s Wine Lodge
Avenida Arriaga 28,
9000-064 Funchal,
Madeira – Portugal
Tel.: (+351) 291740 110
Fax: (+351) 291 740111

Justino’s Madeira Wine

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

The wine tradition in Madeira is secular. It all began in the XV century when Infante D. Henrique ordered the plantation of the Malvazia/Malmsey vineyards imported from Greece. Over 500 years later Madeira wine became one of greatest Wine World icons, as much by its longevity as by its quality, being present on important events such as the United States Independence Declaration on July 4, 1776 e.g..

On the recent trip to Madeira one of the the visited companies was the “Justino’s, Madeira, S.A.” created in 1953 whose founder was Justino Henrique Freitas in 1870 when it was still a family business, known as Vinhos Justino Henriques (V.J.H.). In 1981 Sigfredo da Costa Campos acquired the company and amplified its value with the purchase of Companhia Vinícola da Madeira’s stock. In 1993 associates to the french group “La Martiniquaise” and in 1994 moves out of the downtown facilities to the Parque Industrial de Cancela where it lies till today. With his death in 2008, the French group took hold of the company’s full control.

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10 years lineup (Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Malvazia*) © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

The tasting, excellent by the way, was held on the current and modern facilities which gave me some longing feelings of that atmosphere so characteristic of the oldest wineries where the passage of time has taken its toll. Fortunately, with the help of the served wines excellency, the nostalgia disappeared almost immediately. Before pinpointing the ones I enjoyed the most, a small note about the “Justino’s 10 Anos” better known varieties (Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Malvazia). Wines which present us an above average intensity and maturity.

It’s from this point on that the “Madeira World” starts to be probably better understood, wines where the set’s harmony blends into a more mature bouquet making us aspire to higher stages.

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Justino’s Terrantez Old Reserve © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Justino’s Terrantez Old Reserve
The Terrantez is a rare and nearly extinct variety, filling its wines with a mystery and fascination cape. We’re before a wine with over forty years, some nuances such as the greeny traces on the rim indicating it might as well be older than that. A concentrated and deep wine, some iodine notes, curry, lacquer, old cask wood, dried fruit with english cake, exotic and mysterious.
Mouth with an involving entrance, lining the palate with an unctuous aftertaste of nuts and almonds, orange jelly, and a great elegance along with a conquering acidity’s in a great and long ending.

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Justino’s Sercial 1940 © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Justino’s Sercial 1940
It’s the one needing the most time to develop and have presence in bottle, due to the high acidity which the variety conveys to the wines. My favorite of all with a lot of sea notes, lots of salty almond, lacquer, complexity and elegance, honey with an orange crystallized peel and at the same time exhaling a sharp freshness that tones the whole tasting. Great palate presence with a slight dried salty fruits greasiness. Iodine, citrus zest, plenty of emotion and flavour and once again an acidity focus, presenting an unforgettable wine! At all levels!

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Justino’s Verdelho 1954 © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Justino’s Verdelho 1954
A wine wine exhaling both freshness and energy, complexity in droves in a dense and even quite pinched set at the start. A touch of ripe lemon jelly, green tea, flowers bouquet along with nuts. Plenty of life in a dry and strong set. Mouth contrasting the aromas, full of flavour with remarkable notes highlighting a dryness that revitalizes the palate and invites to one more gulp. Always with plenty of flavour and a soft unctuous touch in a wine with a spicy and huge ending.

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Justino’s Malmsey 1933 © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Justino’s Malmsey 1933
A great wine, showing why there’s no comparison to the great Madeira’s! The longevity cohabits with a complexity/freshness hard to find anywhere else. This is one of the great, those that win us over immediately. It feels, by the variety’s nature, that is sweeter and “heavier” than the previously tasted wines. Great complexity with milk caramel, fig raisins, lacquer, dried fruits. An elegant set with the necessary acidity conferring it plenty of life, ground coffee, box of cigars, spices. All pronounced in a perfect harmony between mouth and nose. Unctuous and fresh palate passage with a tiny tip of sweetness in the ending making it sinful.

Parque Industrial da Cancela
9125 – 042 Caniço
Tel: (+351) 291 934 257
Fax: (+351) 291 934 049