Posts Tagged : Madeira wine

Tasting the History: Frasqueira Soares Franco

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

In the adventures and misadventures of an oenophile there are moments that mark our journey, and this is almost always because of one or more unforgettable wines. I can’t think of anything more exciting than literally come face to face with a preciousness and make way discovering its history. That’s exactly what happened to me with two rare specimens from Frasqueira de António Porto Soares Franco, whose wines are part of the Soares Franco family’s assets located in the headquarters of José Maria da Fonseca, more specifically in the Adega dos Teares Velhos. Going back to António Porto Soares Franco’s time, who at the time was a partner of the Companhia de Aguardentes da Madeira, the routes to the Madeira island opened many doors and opportunities for business, that’s where the Abudarham name comes in. Consulting the book “Madeira: The islands and their wines by Richard Mayson”, we can learn that Joseph Abudarham had dual citizenship, English and French, and that he arrived to Madeira in the first half of the XIX century. He settled there in the wine business, with access to the best that was produced at the time, but also in the cash loan business, which would later give rise to the Companhia de Seguros Aliança Madeirense. His wine business was centered on bottled wine and was sold mainly to France and Germany. After his death in 1869 the company was renamed to Viúva Abudarham & Filhos and would eventually be sold to the Madeira Wine Association, which is today the Madeira Wine Company. Now that I knew its source and its merchant, the only thing left to observe were the details in the small tape stuck to the bottle, the permanent ink on the label could barely be seen and faintly indicated 1795. After some research and exchange of data I came to conclusion that the wine in question was a Terrantez 1795 of which several bottles were auctioned some years ago. The cork came out with the strength of the blades, intact and with the brand José Maria da Fonseca, a sign that the corks are changed every x years, something that was confirmed by the producer himself.

Blend-All-About-Wine- At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco-Table frasqueira soares franco Tasting the History: Frasqueira Soares Franco Blend All About Wine At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco Table

Adega dos Teares Velhos – Photo Provided by José Maria da Fonseca | All Rights Reserved

The second bottle tells a different story, thus bringing us to the Port wine. It also boasts the Frasqueira Soares Franco name and the label only shows R.M 187X. Given the age of the two bottles time has taken its toll on the labels and with them their precious information. In the case of the Madeira they saved up the date on a paper tape, and in the Port wine’s bottle there’s something left on the back label. Later I confirmed that the initials refer to Ramiro Magalhães, a former Port wine merchant who lived in Bombarral. Ramiro Magalhães was an important man in his land and a great wine dealer that at his time would have been one of the firsts to have car and driver. On the back label we can see the missing number, thus getting the vintage’s full year, 1878, the last pre-phylloxera year. In this case there won’t be much more to say, the remaining information only references the year in question, which was considered classic Vintage year.

Blend-All-About-Wine- At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco-Glass frasqueira soares franco Tasting the History: Frasqueira Soares Franco Blend All About Wine At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco Glass

One of the wines tasted – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Frasqueira Soares Franco – Abudarham – Terrantez 1795: It’s amazing the ability that this wine has to perfume a whole room. As soon as it falls in the glass we get mesmerized by the shades that glow in the glass, a wine with 221 years showing the reason why even after all of the wines are served during the dinner, when the Madeira comes in it’s the king of the party. In this case the wine is breathtaking and unforgettable. First of all, a slight peak of volatility before conquering us with a warm and cozy tone of caramel, vanilla, toffee, preparing us for the next clash, a huge freshness. And it’s that same freshness that dominates us and leaves our hands attached to the glass. A WOW comes out immediately, it’s like those rollercoasters that we just want to keep on repeating. With this wine it’s the same, it’s a comes and goes of sensations, the aromas stuck in time go bouncing off the glass, there’s a slight sensation of unctuosity full of freshness, and in the background something that recalls the smell of cigar ash. The palate is another struggle, a conquest that holds us with caramel and burnt sugar, slightly rounds up to the point where we almost crack it, and then fires up in a crazy spiral of acidity with slight bitter in the aftertaste. Unforgettable.

Blend-All-About-Wine- At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco-Vinho Madeira frasqueira soares franco Tasting the History: Frasqueira Soares Franco Blend All About Wine At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco Vinho Madeira

Frasqueira Soares Franco – Abudarham – Terrantez 1795 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Blend-All-About-Wine- At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco-Vinho do Porto frasqueira soares franco Tasting the History: Frasqueira Soares Franco Blend All About Wine At the flavour of history Frasqueira Soares Franco Vinho do Porto

Frasqueira Soares Franco – Ramiro Magalhães – Vintage 1878 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Frasqueira Soares Franco – Ramiro Magalhães – Vintage 1878: A Vintage with 138 years of life. Yes, I said life, because although the tone reminds me of an old tawny its freshness and aromatic definition are remarkable. Very precise and delicate, great elegance with aromas of sweet tobacco, fine spices, candied orange peel, raisin fruit with dates, a cozy set and slightly unctuous. On the palate comes greedy, unctuous and with good volume in the mouth, a slight of vinagrinho, it’s almost like a sweet and cool marble that tears itself on the palate until it remains only a thin, long finish. Majestic.

Justino’s – Madeira Wine

Text Bruno Mendes

Madeira is an important part of the portuguese wine history. One of its many stories goes back to 4th of July, 1776, when it was present in the independence of the United States toast.

Harvests in Madeira are not easy and at Justino’s, a Madeira wine-producing company, founded in 1870, they seek to pick the right time to harvest the grapes and select only those that best fit the wine to be made. From dry to sweet, it’s important to choose the right time to stop fermentation and at Justino’s they don’t stop on their experience and knowledge, focusing on a constant improvement of its facilities and equipment, thereby enhancing the quality of its production, complementing the traditional methods with the latest technologies available to this sector.

For a more detailed view, see the video below:

Blandy’s – Over 200 years of history

Text Bruno Mendes

It’s in one of the portuguese archipelagos, specifically in Madeira, that we can find Blandy’s. It’s a secular producer of Madeira wine with over 200 years of existence, which was founded by John Blandy who arrived at this archipelago in 1808.

Here are used the most modern winemaking techniques, but without ever neglecting the old and secular traditions of Madeira wine.

The wine is aged in two stages. In the first process the wine undergoes oxidation in a warm space where the bouquets flourish and the wine transforms into Madeira wine. The second phase takes longer, lasts years. The wines are stored in a cooler place in barrels to sharpen their bouquet.

For a more detailed view of the history and wines from this company please see the video below.

News from Blandy’s

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

The launch took place in the new hotel, Porto Bay Liberdade, in downtown Lisbon, property of the Blandy family, and whose restaurant is branded by chef Benoît Synthon. The speakers were the president of the company, Chris Blandy, and the director for oenology, Francisco Albuquerque.

Given his renowned passion and knowledge, Francisco Albuquerque explained every wine presented.

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Tasting blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Tasting

The Wines – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

He said that some of the wines being launched were still in casks; they are already showing limit-levels of concentration, and thus will soon be entirely bottled.

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Wines blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Wines

The Wines – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

We began with Malmsey 1999, of a crystal-clear dark shade of amber. Very elegant on the nose while carrying a lot of intensity, with notes of tangerine peel, some nuts, and notes of old wood and roasting. On the mouth, the sweetness deliciously contrasts with the intense acidity. In addition, notes of jam and quince add to this very concentrated wine that has yet to evolve in the cask. In perfect shape, it will be put on the market once it’s completely bottled. Interestingly, for being the sweetest, Madeira wine is always the favourite, especially in the very important English market, and that is why there is less of it in cellars.

Next was Bual 30 years, a blend of several wines between 11 and 42 years-old, averaging at 32, their shade a crystal-clear medium amber. On the nose, it’s somewhat floral, very elegant, intense and a little refreshing. On the mouth, it’s very concentrated, slightly dry, displays strong acidity that conveys a lot of freshness, notes of tangerine peel, almonds, quite a complex drink with a long and flavoursome finish. The Verdelho 1979 boasts a very crystal-clear medium-dark hue of amber. A very refreshing nose, intense, light notes of nuts and jam. On the mouth, a lot of freshness; some salinity and powerful acidity constantly cleanse the fig and cinnamon notes. It is thoroughly complex. A lasting finish allows acidity to almost stroke your tongue…

The Terrantez 1977 is a reedit of an already well-known wine, whose variety is rarer and rarer on the island. Its hue is a very dark crystal-clear amber. Not easy to describe, this intensity bonds with the extreme elegance in this exotic, complex, refreshing wine with notes of walnuts and hazelnuts. There is a big contrast between the sweetness and the acidity. The brutal acidity almost burns your tongue; very intense, dry, light notes of roasting, a lot of elegance and a never-ending finish. A wine with character for connoisseurs.

Afterwards, we tasted Cercial 1975, in a very light crystal-clear amber, soft, elegant, some nuts, and somewhat exotic. Softly elegant on the mouth, it feels sophisticated, almost chewable, with balanced yet very noticeable intense acidity, engaging, with a long and delicious finish.

We ended the tasting with an amazing Bual 1966. A very dark crystal-clear amber. Very intense on the nose, overdone, notes of roasting, spices, curry, toasted almonds. Austere on the mouth, very intense, it sends out notes of sweetness while the acidity cleanses everything, creating a complex and delicious contrast. It is simultaneously elegant and sturdy, with an incredible finish. A wine to remember…

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Rosé Glass blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Ros   Glass

Atlantis Rosé 2015 – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Rosé 2015 blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Ros   2015

Atlantis Rosé 2015 – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The Madeira wines by Blandy’s will be bottled into some magnum bottles (1.5l), some double magnum (3l), and three 18-litre bottles for storing purposes.

Over a very well-served lunch, we enjoyed another three new products: a table rosé, Atlantis Rosé 2015 (in a cask sample), made using the Negra Mole grape variety, which came out in an elegant salmon-pink, revealing red fruits and some jam on the nose, dry, refreshing and with excellent acidity.

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Lunch blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Lunch

Ceviche – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

A lovely surprise that paid the ceviche great company. The lamb jarret (French for shin) with mashed potatoes and vegetables was served with Pombal do Vesúvio Red 2011.

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Lunch-3 blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Lunch 3

Sweet breaded quail – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Malmsey 2008 blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Malmsey 2008

Malmsey Harvest 2008 – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then followed a chef’s specialty, a somewhat sweet breaded quail with Asian sauce accompanied by another new product, Malmsey Harvest 2008, a more affordable, modern wine with the same features of a great Madeira, especially with regard to acidity, the dry notes, tangerine peel, and some nuts – a beautiful wine.

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Dessert blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Dessert

Passion fruit wraps – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Blend-All-About-Wine-News from Blandy's-Bual 2002 blandy's News from Blandy's Blend All About Wine News from Blandys Bual 2002

Colheita Bual 2002 – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

With dessert, very elegant and flavoursome passion fruit wraps, we drank the latest product, a Colheita Bual 2002, full of structure yet elegant, some notes of roasting, soft spices, and some freshness. On the mouth, it is intense, has freshness and, at the same time, a lot of sweetness, but with intense, fantastic, delicious, engaging acidity – a gorgeous wine.

After the meal, we took a stroll down Avenida da Liberdade, where it was starting to smell like Christmas.

Further south, Madeira Island awaits our visit…

Contacts
Tel: (+351) 291 740 110
E-mail: pubrel@madeirawinecompany.com
Website: www.blandys.com

Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door

Text Sarah Ahmed

There cannot be many places in the world where you can buy a bottle of 19th century wine over the counter direct from the producer.  Correction.  Eight 19th century wines over the counter.

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira d'Oliveira wine list Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira dOliveira wine list

Pereira d’Oliveira wine list – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Pereira d’Oliveira’s cellar in Funchal, Madeira is that place.  What a hoard of treasure it is too, crammed with bottles and barrels!  A hoard takes a hoarder.  How come Pereira d’Oliveira has such a marvellously abundant back catalogue, a veritable embarrassment of riches?

Part of the explanation lies in the fact that Pereira d’Oliveira is an amalgamation of six Madeira firms: João Pereira d’Oliveira, João Joaquim Camacho & Sons, Júlio Augusto Cunha & Sons, Vasco Luís Pereira & Sons, Adegas do Torreão and, very recently (October 2013), Barros e Sousa.

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Filipe & Luis Pereira d'Oliveira Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Filipe Luis Pereira dOliveira

Filipe & Luis Pereira d’Oliveira, 6th and 5th generation madeira producers – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

But this is not the principal reason.  With his brother Anibal, Luís Pereira d’Oliveira represents the fifth generation of his family to run the business which was founded in 1850 by João Pereira d’Oliveira. Responsible for sales, he tells me a story which has a distinct ring of familiarity (I’m thinking about Caves São João’s million bottle cellar in Bairrada). He reveals that the company only started to export 30 years ago because the third and fourth generation – his father, uncle and grandfather – simply had no interest in exporting.  All three preferred exclusively to sell their wines on Madeira and the Portuguese mainland, which explains why Pereira d’Oliveira has some 1,600,000 litres of madeira which is more than 20-30 years old.  Wow!

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira d'Oliveira deformed Moscatel bottles Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira dOliveira deformed Moscatel bottles

Pereira d’Oliveira deformed Moscatel bottles – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Although these days the company exports madeira to 16 countries, it would seem that old habits die hard.  When I ask Pereira d’Oliveira (Luís) about the acquisition of Barros e Sousa, he tells me it was for one reason only – to extend their 600 square metre cellar door/lodge (already one of three Pereira d’Oliveira lodges in Funchal).   With 1030 square metres, Barros e Sousa’s neighbouring lodge will help ease the pressure on space and maintain Pereira d’Oliveira’s long-held tradition of bottling wines on demand (there are no plans to set aside new wines to perpetuate the Barros e Sousa brand).

This practice (bottling on demand) accounts for the elixir-like concentration and intensity for which the company’s madeira is renowned.  Take the 1927 Bastardo, first bottled from cask in 2007, 60 years after the 20 year minimum which is required of top Frasqueira (vintage) madeira!

With its pacy lick of “vinagrinho,” the über-complex house style is also informed by another long-held tradition.   Pereira d’Oliveira madeira is cask-aged in very old wood (mostly over 60 years old, some over a century old) and on ullage (i.e. with no topping up to refresh wines).  A process which, when skilfully done over many years, allows the subtle interaction of wine, wood, heat and oxygen slowly to tease out myriad layers.

The modern world worships speed, but there’s no place for it here.  Or as Pereira d’Oliveira puts it, “we don’t like to go fast because then something can happen which is not interesting.” Though the context of his remark is about staying a small, independent family business, it resonates profoundly with the winemaking philosophy here.  A philosophy which has remained firmly intact since sixth generation winemaker Filipe joined his father, Anibal.

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Filipe Pereira d'Oliveira behind the counter Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Filipe Pereira dOliveira behind the counter

Filipe Pereira d’Oliveira behind the counter – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

The “steady as she goes” approach is a blessing for tourists too, especially those who are regularly decanted from the many cruise ships which visit the island and have no car at their disposal.  Pereira d’Oliveira is adamant about staying in the heart of Funchal and, located at number 107 Rua dos Ferreiros, the atmospheric 17th century cellar (originally a school) is just a stone’s throw from the port, to the north of the city’s cathedral.

While the selection of madeira on tasting impresses, it pales into insignificance compared with what you can buy over the counter.  With 56 single vintage (Colheita and Frasqueria) madeiras on sale, you can celebrate just about any anniversary you care to mention.  However, take note, you should contact The Guinness Book of Records if your birth year coincides with the eight oldest wines, which span 1850 to 1895!

Here are tasting notes on my top seven from number 107 (prices are cellar door)

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed A fine selection of Pereira d'Oliveira Frasqueira madeira Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed A fine selection of Pereira dOliveira Frasqueira madeira

A fine selection of Frasqueira wines – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Pereira d’Oliveira Sercial 1971 (Madeira)
Mahogany with red glints.  Terrific varietal character with its drive of grapefruity acidity, a sweet hint of tangerine and guava too.  Very smoky, long and fine.  Concentration with line and length.  €94/bottle

Pereira d’Oliveira Terrantez 1971 (Madeira)
Deep amber with a complex nose and palate.  Richer than the Sercial with rounder, riper, orangey acidity (not grapefruit).  Yet drier, more savoury, with a lovely fine backbone of tobacco, cedar and dried spice.  Very persistent with a mineral/iodine undertow to its long finish.  €110/bottle

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira d'Oliveira Bastardo 1927 Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira dOliveira Bastardo 1927

Pereira d’Oliveira Bastardo 1927 – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Pereira d’Oliveira Bastardo 1927 (Madeira)
This particular bottle was taken from cask in 2014; the 1927 is Pereira d’Oliveira’s only Bastardo, so it’s extremely rare .  The deep hue reminds you that Bastardo is a red, not white grape.  Sure enough, it has more body, fruit and sweetness to its mid-palate of tangy sweet and sour medjool date fruit.  Juicy acidity is nicely integrated, mingling and extending the fruit through a long, dark spicy finish with black cardamom seed and milder, smoother café crème cigar lift.  The finish is a mite dusty, but the fruit is generous enough to keep any wood astringency firmly at bay.  €300/bottle

Pereira d’Oliveira Verdelho 1912 (Madeira)
The house is renowned for Verdelho. Filipe Pereira d’Oliveira tells me he is a fan of its medium dry style (and so, like me, a firm fan of Terrantez too).  This has an exceptionally lively palate for a 102 year old.  Do not be fooled by its mature mahogany hue – appearances can be deceptive.  It reveals friskily fresh guava and tangy, fleshy date chutney with sour tamarind spice and grapefruit peel bite.  Fabulous length and precision.  A marvel.  Hope to be this sprightly if I get to 102!!  With the Terrantez 1880, my wine of the tasting.  €330/bottle

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira d'Oliveira Moscatel cask Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira dOliveira Moscatel cask

Pereira d’Oliveira Moscatel cask – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Pereira d’Oliveira Moscatel 1875 (Madeira)
I’ve had the good fortune to taste very aged, fine rare Moscatel before – 1928 Morris Muscat from Rutherglen and José Maria Fonseca Apoteca Moscatel de Setubal 1902. Both were viscously intense.  I’d not encountered Moscatel in Madeira before but the island’s hallmark acidity really distinguishes and transports this Moscatel – I’d say it’s the best of these very aged examples I’ve tasted. So although it’s a very dark mahogany colour with a correspondingly super-intense concentration of Demerara sugar, dark, slightly bitter, dusty spices (black cardamom, tamarind), Camp Coffee and molasses, its very even, well integrated  acidity lends a certain precision, not to mention impressive length.  No viscosity here, which gives this wine great energy and glow.  €760/bottle

 

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira d'Oliveira - the oldest madeiras tasted Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Pereira d’Oliveira, Madeira – Putting the Cellaring into Cellar Door Photo Credit Sarah Ahmed Pereira dOliveira the oldest madeiras tasted

Pereira d’Oliveira madeira – the oldest wines tasted – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Pereira d’Oliveira Terrantez 1880 (Madeira)
Relatively pale, as seems to be a Terrantez trait.  But ever so interesting but, above all, it has incredible elegance, length and integration for its age.  A fine spine of delicate spices and sweet tobacco brings lift and line.  Beautiful balance and composure.  With the Verdelho 1912, my wine of the tasting.  €780/bottle

Pereira d’Oliveira Sercial 1875 (Madeira)
It’s hard to believe that this Sercial is nearly 100 years older than the first of my magnificent seven wines, also a Sercial!  The family resemblance in terms of variety and house style is very marked. Guava, grapefruit peel, even fresh cut apple notes sing beneath its veil of smoke and minerals.  Its distinctly volcanic whiff, iodine and kelp serve as a palpable reminder of the island’s very peculiar terroir of mountains, ocean and volcano.  Incredible length, persistence and finesse.  I think this just might be another joint favourite….€760/bottle

Contacts
Rua Ferreiros 107
9000-082 FUNCHAL
( )
Tel: (+351) 291 220 784
Fax: (+351) 291 229 081
Site: perolivinhos.pai.pt

J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra’s Kingdom

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

Of strong implementation in Madeira’s regional market, J. Faria & Filhos, Lda. only started to commercialize Madeira wine in 1993 despite being founded in 1949 where the main activity was the manufacture of traditional and fruit concentrated liquors. With the regional market growth the company expanded its products range and started to commercialize liquors, cane sugar “Aguardente” (Madeira’s Rum), Brandy, Madeira wines and fruit concentrates.

Blend_All_About_Wine_JFF_Logo J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom Blend All About Wine JFF Logo

J. Faria & Filhos, Lda. © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

J. Faria & Filhos Madeira wine production has as its base the Tinta Negra variety which originates a large range of wines with a special focus to the 5 and 10 years. Generally speaking they are wines made to please and easily findable in markets. A recent producer without all that historical emphasis we’re used to find in other places. So I’ll jump to the wines that I liked the most during the tasting.

Blend_All_About_Wine_JFF_5_Anos_Medium_Sweet J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom Blend All About Wine JFF 5 Anos Medium Sweet

5 years Medium Sweet © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

5 Years Medium Sweet
The most balanced of the 5 years’ range with a slight growth in the glass, consensual, plenty of dates and honey cake hints, slight freshness in the background holding up the set. In the mouth sustains the same rendering, simple and direct, slight complexity in a simple and uncomplicated set.

Blend_All_About_Wine_JFF_10_Anos_Seco J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom Blend All About Wine JFF 10 Anos Seco

10 years Dry © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

10 Years Dry
It was the wine I enjoyed the most from the tasting. Again Tinta Negra setting the tone though the set shows a bit more of complexity and freshness, hints of dried fruit, slightly salty and a medium finish.

Contacts
Travessa do Tanque, 85/87
9020-258 Funchal
Tel: +351 291 742 935
Fax: +351 291 742 255
E-mail: info@jfariaefilhos.pt
Site: www.jfariaefilhos.pt

J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

Of strong implementation in Madeira’s regional market, J. Faria & Filhos, Lda. only started to commercialize Madeira wine in 1993 despite being founded in 1949 where the main activity was the manufacture of traditional and fruit concentrated liquors. With the regional market growth the company expanded its products range and started to commercialize liquors, cane sugar “Aguardente” (Madeira’s Rum), Brandy, Madeira wines and fruit concentrates.

Blend_All_About_Wine_JFF_Logo J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom Blend All About Wine JFF Logo

J. Faria & Filhos, Lda. © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

J. Faria & Filhos Madeira wine production has as its base the Tinta Negra variety which originates a large range of wines with a special focus to the 5 and 10 years. Generally speaking they are wines made to please and easily findable in markets. A recent producer without all that historical emphasis we’re used to find in other places. So I’ll jump to the wines that I liked the most during the tasting.

Blend_All_About_Wine_JFF_5_Anos_Medium_Sweet J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom Blend All About Wine JFF 5 Anos Medium Sweet

5 years Medium Sweet © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

5 Years Medium Sweet
The most balanced of the 5 years’ range with a slight growth in the glass, consensual, plenty of dates and honey cake hints, slight freshness in the background holding up the set. In the mouth sustains the same rendering, simple and direct, slight complexity in a simple and uncomplicated set.

Blend_All_About_Wine_JFF_10_Anos_Seco J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom J.Faria & Filhos, in the Tinta Negra's Kingdom Blend All About Wine JFF 10 Anos Seco

10 years Dry © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

10 Years Dry
It was the wine I enjoyed the most from the tasting. Again Tinta Negra setting the tone though the set shows a bit more of complexity and freshness, hints of dried fruit, slightly salty and a medium finish.

Contacts
Travessa do Tanque, 85/87
9020-258 Funchal
Tel: +351 291 742 935
Fax: +351 291 742 255
E-mail: info@jfariaefilhos.pt
Site: www.jfariaefilhos.pt

Henriques & Henriques

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Bruno Ferreira

For many years the Henriques’ family was the largest owner of Madeira wine, having the first vines been planted by order of Infante D. Henrique in the year 1425. Founded in 1850, by the hands of João Gonçalves Henriques, it went from a family tradition to an enterprise. After his death in 1912, a partnership was made between his two sons, Francisco Eduardo and João Joaquim Henriques, giving birth to the name Henriques & Henriques.

Blend_All_About_Wine_HH_1 Henriques & Henriques Henriques & Henriques Blend All About Wine HH 1

Henriques & Henriques Wine Lodge & Shop © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

In 1968, with the death of the last of the Henriques, João Joaquim Henriques, aka “João de Belém”, and the fact of not having any successors, the company was inherited by his three friends and collaborators: Alberto Nascimento Jardim, Peter Cossart (which has performed 53 harvests in the company) and Carlos Nunes Pereira.

In June 1992, a huge investment was made in the construction of new facilities in Câmara dos Lobos as well as new vinification center in Quinta Grande where in 1995 a new 10 hectares vineyard was planted. This makes H&H one of the few Madeira’s wine producers to own its own vines.

Peter Cossart’s son, John Cossart, was the one who took hold of the company’s management but would end passing away in 2008. Recently the French multinational La Martiniquaise (Justino’s Madeira owner) became the main shareholder of H&H. The former now holds 70% of Madeira wine total production and Dr. Humberto Jardim is still a C.E.O. in H&H.

Some of the oldest Henriques & Henriques’ wines were in the first group of great Madeiras that I had the chance to taste and which aroused in me the interest for Madeira wine. Oddly they were all Boal, for example the Old Wine Boal 1887, the Solera Boal 1898 or the Reserva Velhíssima W.S. Boal which is a part of a “Fantastic Four” whose diminished quantities don’t permit it to be tasted anymore.

Blend_All_About_Wine_HH_2 Henriques & Henriques Henriques & Henriques Blend All About Wine HH 2

Canteiro’s Barrels of Henriques & Henriques © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

After the visit, I had the chance to taste several wines, a quick highlight for the simple Monte Seco Extra Dry 3 Anos, made of Tinta Negra, full of Fino de Jerez’s reminding touches, without the characteristic flower’s touch, suggesting us that it’s an ideal pal for appetizers, with a simple approach, direct and quite dry. Other wines have already been properly approached by Olga Cardoso in a previous article.

Blend_All_About_Wine_HH_3 Henriques & Henriques Henriques & Henriques Blend All About Wine HH 3

H&H Verdelho 20 Anos © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

H&H Verdelho 20 Anos
The recently marketed Madeira 20 anos have the particularity of an ever-changing lot as well as minimal quantities availability’s. For that, some editions are indeed exclusive and one of a kind. In this case a Verdelho, a variety that’s capable of maintaining its aromas and fruity flavors for a long time, a feature that quite stands out on this well-shaped wine. Tropical fruit with fresh passion fruit, pineapple in syrup, spices, old wood, lacquer, honeyed and complex, emanating a harmony between freshness and concentration. Matching mouth, present acidity with an initial fruit taste that opens into an unctuous and concentrated set, some dry fruits as a complement, long and persistent ending.

Blend_All_About_Wine_HH_4 Henriques & Henriques Henriques & Henriques Blend All About Wine HH 4

H&H Century Malmsey Solera 1900 © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

H&H Century Malmsey Solera 1900
One of this producer’s emblematic wines which has lost in time the Solera’s age that originated it, probably from the XIX century . The rest are only details which only enrich and sharpen the will to have it on our glass and behold such precious liquid. A wine that transpires in complexity, old cask’s wood, dried fruits, fig raisins with nuts, honey and a nose warmth conferred by an unctuous yet fresh sensation at the same time. Cigar box, unfolding in thin layers of aromas and flavors, velvet mouth marked by freshness, concentration and a tremendous elegance. Some wines are unforgettable and this is certainly one of them.

Blend_All_About_Wine_HH_5 Henriques & Henriques Henriques & Henriques Blend All About Wine HH 5

H&H Verdelho Reserva Ribeiro Real N.V. © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

H&H Verdelho Reserva Ribeiro Real N.V.
This wine and the moment that involved its tasting are the very essence of Madeira wine, something unique, enthralling, and I would say impossible even, of happening anywhere else in the world. To understand why, keep in mind that the person in charge of leading the taste, never in her 19 years of work in H&H had tasted said wine, such is its rarity. Lost in time is the record of its true age, though it all points to the second half of XIX century.  From vineyards located in the area known as Ribeiro Real, the more than fifty years it spent in “Canteiro” made it concentrated, glyceric, also gaving it an exquisite and profound bouquet. To the naked eye it’s perceptible a beautiful green crown. The rest is a true monument to the Verdelho variety, bottled in 1957, with the aroma of the old wood where it aged. Lacquer, splashes of candied orange/grapefruit, iodine, plenty of freshness and elegance in a deep and mysterious set. Perfectly synced mouth, mid-dry, tasteful concentration compensated with a dragged minerality along a palate revitalizing acidity. A repeating grapefruit touch right at the ending. Remarkable, unforgettable.

Contacts
Sítio de Belém 9300-138
Câmara de Lobos
Madeira – Portugal
Tel.: (+351) 291 941 551/2
Fax.: (+351) 291 941 590
E-mail: HeH@henriquesehenriques.pt
Site: www.henriquesehenriques.pt

Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira

Text Sarah Ahmed

The Declaration of Independence of the United States, signed in 1776, was celebrated with a glass of Madeira.  But it’s not America’s third president (author of the Declaration), Thomas Jefferson, who springs to mind when I meet Paulo Mendes.  Rather, I’m reminded of Barack Obama’s campaign slogan ‘yes we can’.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_Yes_We_Can Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners Yes We Can

“Yes, we can” in onlifesuccess.net

The most difficult business

Mendes, the tenacious CEO and architect of that rarest of breeds, a new Madeira firm, has had to be resourceful, unorthodox even, since, as he is the first to admit, “Madeira Vintners has a huge handicap – no old wines.”

Though Mendes is referring to the handicap of recreating Madeira’s stylistic profile from young stock (where Madeira is largely a marriage of old and young wines), this lack of old wines almost proved fatal from a legal perspective (about which more below).  The law provides that even new companies must possess 120, 000 litres of Madeira.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_Paulo_Mendes_in_full_flow Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners Paulo Mendes in full flow

Paulo Mendes in full flow – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

All in all it was hardly an encouraging start for this highly experienced management consultant who confesses, “at first I was the arrogant consultant who thought everyone was doing everything the wrong way.”  When it dawned on him that “the wine business is one, if not the most difficult business I had ever seen in my life,” the man with a curriculum vitae as long as your arm went back to school between 2010-2012, completing MBAs in Wine Marketing & Management at Bordeaux Business School and in Wine Marketing and Winemaking at University of California, Davis.

Still, he must have taken heart from his successful turn-around of Co-operativa Agrícola do Funchal (“CAF”), the supplier of agricultural and garden products which has been managed by the keen Madeira-born strategist since 1999.  It was a cash surplus generated by this “profound” turn-around which encouraged CAF’s diversification into Madeira wine in 2008 (Madeira Vintners is an independent division of CAF).  Mendes clearly thrives on challenge.

Between a rock and a hard place

Naturally, Mendes’ plans initially revolved around either buying mature stocks of Madeira wine or acquiring an established firm so that he could comply with the minimum stock-holding regulations and produce Madeira wine from the off.   Unfortunately, he tells me, none of the existing firms would sell him stock and “we lost all the acquisition bids,” most recently to Pereira d’Oliveira who acquired Barros e Sousa last year.  It left him between a rock and a hard place.

However, thanks to a bounteous vintage in 2012, Madeira Vintners was granted a special exemption from the stock-holding requirements for new companies; its first harvest that same year was processed at Barbeito’s winery.  With a heavy sigh, Mendes says rumours then circulated that Madeira Vintners was a state-owned vehicle created to buy up grape surpluses.  Rumours which must have been frustrating where, leaving aside the fact that Madeira Vintners (and CAF) is privately owned, they fly in the face of a key plank of Madeira Vintners’ strategy for success.  Madeira Vintners is highly selective about grape sourcing.

Rubbish in, rubbish out

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_Paul_Mendes_with_30kg_(small)_harvesting_boxes Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners Paul Mendes with 30kg small harvesting boxes

Mendes pictured alongside small 30kg boxes into which the grapes are harvested – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Elaborating on this strategy Mendes explains that he is betting on the quality and provenance of his raw material in a bid to differentiate Madeira Vintners from the competition.  Alive to the stark reality that “either we have above average quality, or we are dead” it certainly makes sense where, with only young wines to sell, Madeira Vintners will be targeting entry level consumers whom Mendes believes are currently not well served.  Dismissing many of the tourist circuit entry level 3 Year Old Madeiras as “not suitable for drinking, only culinary use,” he believes it is imperative for the island to raise the threshold of basic quality wines if new consumers are to explore the category and not to be put off by it.

For this reason he has abandoned the traditional spot market in order better to control grape quality. In Mendes’ opinion, because the island’s predominantly small growers (many of whom are gardeners or farmers, not viticulturists) want to sell their grapes at the first opportunity and the agents who operate the market are paid by the kilogram, there is little incentive to let grapes hang until they have attained the correct sugar acid balance. Too many grapes, he says, are picked at the minimum ripeness level (9% potential alcohol) and, for Mendes, who frowns on “Madeira that looks like Port,” these high acid grapes require unnecessarily high sugar additions.

Cutting out the middle man, Madeira Vintners deals directly with larger, contracted growers who tend to be more professional.  Still, Madeira Vintners works with them year-round to ensure that the vineyards are properly looked after and the grapes picked at the optimum time.  In return for later-picked, riper grapes, Madeira Vintners guarantees it will buy all the grapes and pays its growers an above average rate.

It’s not the only financial incentive for quality.  Mendes also pays growers more if they keep down gluconic acid levels, whose formation is associated with botrytis cinerea (a mold).    Too much and Madeira Vintners won’t even harvest the grapes.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_Sorting_Table Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners Sorting Table

Sorting Table – Photo provided by Madeira Vintners | All Rights Reserved

The rigorous selection process continues at the company’s shiny new winery where, Mendes boasts, Madeira Vintners is the only firm to sort grapes on reception as well as in the vineyard using a sorting table.  He says there is a quantum difference between sorted and unsorted grapes; the former have fruitier aromas and none of the earthiness associated with mold.  Estimating that 5-10% of hand harvested grapes are discarded he admits, “it’s a pain and expensive but we believe that if we sort the grapes, we’ll have pristine grapes.”

Terroir matters

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintner_different_growers_different_terroir Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintner different growers different terroir

Different growers, Different terroir – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

This year, Madeira Vintners bought 110 tons from just 20 growers whose production averaged three tons – a sizeable amount by Madeira’s standards.  It allows Madeira Vintners to process each growers’ harvest separately (the winery is equipped with relatively small format fermenters, between one and ten tons).  “Why spoil the wines by blending” he asks, “when you can reflect the grower, the soils and the weather?”

By adopting this small batch approach, Mendes is deliberately creating a point of difference from the competition. As he pragmatically puts it, “to survive and bring complexity we are working with as many lots as possible in the vineyards,” including Listrão (a.k.a. Palomino) and Caracol from neighbouring island, Porto Santo, whose calcareous soils differ from Madeira’s volcanic terrain.  Keen to court a new audience where, he concedes, traditional connoisseurs are not his natural constituency, Mendes is aiming “to bring to the Madeira enthusiast a new approach where ‘terroir’ matters.”  He is even considering labelling wines by the grower and/or the vineyard.

Madeira’s Small Hadron Collider

Large_Hadron_Collider_news_discovery_com Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Large Hadron Collider news discovery com

Large Hadron Collider in news.discovery.com

Terroir-driven complexity is one thing, but what about the unique age-derived intensity and complexity of premium Madeiras (Five Years Old upwards)?  These characteristics (traditionally the function of years of oxidative cask-ageing) define Madeira and are a pre-requisite to obtaining the Madeira Wine Institute’s seal of approval. Will time remain Mendes’ enemy until he has accumulated stocks of old wine?

While asserting “just because we’re a new company doesn’t mean we don’t believe time is key,” Mendes believes he has found a work-around – his very own Madeira wine particle accelerators.  Essentially, it involves “using lots of different processes in the winery” which, if all goes to plan, will help attain the complexity and profile of five to ten year old Madeiras in just three years.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_Tinta Negra_fermented_on_skins_versus_free_run_juice Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners Tinta Negra fermented on skins versus free run juice

Tinta Negra fermented on skins versus free run – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

During fermentation, these techniques include cask fermentation, cold maceration, passing by flotation, full fermentation on skins and malolactic fermentation.  It made for a novel tasting of 2013 wines which showcased how these methods can alter the profile of Madeira, sometimes dramatically.

Cask fermentation introduced greater wood and cognac derived complexity (the barrels were sourced from Remy Martin).  The bigger the barrel (they range from 350 litres to 600 litres), the better the oak integration.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_Old_&_new-small_format_tanks_&_Remy_Martin_casks Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners Old  new small format tanks  Remy Martin casks

Small format tanks versus Remy Martin casks – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Cold maceration on skins for three days before fermenting produced a darker, spicier, textural, rounder, seemingly more developed Malvasia.  A 2014 vintage Caracol fermented on skins is much darker and more intensely fruity and spicy.

It was also fascinating to see the difference between wines fermented with temperature control (20 degrees Celsius) or without.  The former produced a much better balanced wine with more fruit and fragrance to balance the alcohol.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_with_temperature_controlled_fermentation_vats Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners with temperature controlled fermentation vats

Mendes with stainless steel temperature controlled fermenters – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

While up to 10% of wines are being conventionally canteiro (cask) aged for the minimum five year period, Mendes has departed from tradition when it comes to the estufagem process of heating the wines in tank (traditionally wines are held for three months at 45 to 50º Celsius).  His more differentiated approach seeks to introduce greater complexity – different blending options – via different estufa sizes (40.000 litre, 10.000 litres and 1.000 litre) and heating the estufas to slightly lower temperatures than the norm, with slower temperature variations over longer periods.  The aim is to mimic the cargo hold ageing of old when Madeira was shipped across the equator and back to achieve its signature scorched earth (madeirised) tang.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_micro-oxygenated_estufas Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners micro oxygenated estufas

Micro-oxygenation during estufagem – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

Mendes is also banking on the use of micro-oxygenation during the estufagem process to replicate traditional cask oxidation.  Of those 2014 samples we tasted, those which had received oxygen management were rounder – more precocious.

No guts, no glory

With no wines yet to show for his efforts the question on everyone’s lips is can this underdog swim against the tide of tradition, or will Mendes risk becoming a beleaguered messiah like the current US President? Only time will tell but, as they say, no guts, no glory.

Blend_All_About_Wine_Madeira_Vintners_variety_is_the_spice_of_life Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Yes we can: Madeira Vintners – A new approach to Madeira Blend All About Wine Madeira Vintners variety is the spice of life

Variety is the spice of life – Photo by Sarah Ahmed | All Rights Reserved

I’m looking forward to tasting Madeira Vintner’s first releases.  They are currently scheduled for 2016 provided that Mendes (and select customers) think they are ready.  Where fortified wines struggle to remain relevant to generation X and Y, Mendes’ fresh perspective on Madeira – terroir-driven, complex but clean wines with balanced but lower alcohol (18 degrees maximum), lower sugar and acidity – is surely a welcome development.

Contacts
Cam. Sao Martinho, 56 Funchal
Madeira 9000-273
Portugal

Madeira’s Wine Institute – A Masterclass that made all the difference!

Text Olga Cardoso | Translation Bruno Ferreira

The Madeira’s Institute of Wine, Embroidery and Crafts, IP – IVBAM is the responsible entity for the supervision of regional wine activities and by the certification and quality control of Madeira wine.

An entity which, with administrative and financial autonomy, efficiently cares for the consolidation and sustained growth of traditional and regional products, without however neglecting the effectively rising promotion and the quality conservation, whether at a national or international level.

Blend_All_About_Wine_IVBAM_1 Madeira's Wine Institute - A Masterclass that made all the difference! Madeira's Wine Institute - A Masterclass that made all the difference! Blend All About Wine IVBAM 1

The Madeira’s Institute of Wine, Embroidery and Crafts, IP – IVBAM – Photo Provided by IVBAM | All Rights Reserved

Madeira has about 400 hectares of vineyards. The agricultural lands are characterized by very steep slopes, generally in form of terraced fields. Madeira’s irrigation water is collected in the highlands of the island and is driven through channels called “levadas” that consist of an impressive 2150 Km channel system.

The most traditional conduction method is the “latada” (pergola), in which the vines are horizontally conducted. More recently there’s the espalier conduction method, which, however, can only be used in less steep slopes.

Normally the harvesting happens between mid-August and mid-October and it’s done in a totally manual way. The efforts are many, and the rituals mirror the difficulty relative to a whole smallholdings system spread over an extremely rugged terrain.

To speak of Madeira wine is like speaking of dramatism. Dramatism which is manifested not only in the overwhelming island’s view but also in its wines vinification method and long aging periods. Drama is indeed a well-defining word not only to Madeira but to everything that is portuguese. Yes, we’re a dramatic people… and it’s patent in the various aspects of our culture.

Our sound or national music is Fado – is there any other as strong, sad or deeply-felt? I can understand the difficulty that someone from the Northern Europe has, people that are usually colder, precise and devoid of such melancholic feelings. Or of someone from more cheerful and relaxed countries as are the South American ones. Indeed it must not be easy to understand all these exacerbated feelings of ours.

But, back to wine… It’s really a boast to be Portuguese. We’re young as concerns to still wines and yet we’ve won several international prizes and we’re already in publications of Wine Spectator and that confers us a place among the best world wines. However there’s still a long way to go in this area. That is if we want to maintain and increase this quality recognition.

We produce a little bit over 6 million hectoliters per year. To be on the top of the world in the quality matter, will demand a lot of us in the future. Spreading the word across the international consumers and not gird ourselves to the magazines’ recognition, will demand even more. Yes, because one thing is the magazines’ recognition and another quite different is the consumers’ acceptance and it’s that that will allow the Portuguese wines growth.

Does the press buy wines? No. Does the trade buy wines? Yes, but only to sell and while it’s financially justifiable. So, who do we have to attract? Naturally, the consumers.

Here I am, digressing again… Let’s get back to Madeira wine and IVBAM then.

This year I’ve been 4 times to Madeira and I’m about to board again. Really.. I just can’t get enough and I intend even to get more attached to the island in the future.

The last trip to Madeira, mid-November 2014, was remarkable. All of the Blend – All About Wine’s team members got quite impressed. We visited all of the Madeira wine producers and we also did a generic tasting of Madeira’s table wines.

We tried different and amazing restaurants’ and at the same time realized of its outstanding touristic potential… still so strangely forgotten when it comes to its wines.

Along the 5 trip days we tasted many high quality wines. New wines but mostly very old wines. Several of them with over 100 years, showing and proving, all of the island’s peculiarity. Some of them were tasted during the IVBAM’s MasterClass, very well led by the Head of IVBAM’s Chamber of Tasters – Rubina Vieira.

Blend_All_About_Wine_IVBAM_2 Madeira's Wine Institute - A Masterclass that made all the difference! Madeira's Wine Institute - A Masterclass that made all the difference! Blend All About Wine IVBAM 2

MasterClass, led by the Head of IVBAM’s Chamber of Tasters – Rubina Vieira © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

In addition this MasterClass was also nicely customized. Yes, it was a Blend – All About Wine MasterClass, born and bred for us!

We tasted twelve wines from different producers, years and varieties. Starting with a Colheita de 1996 and finishing off with a Verdelho de 1850. The ones that impressed me the most were the Sercial 1862 and the Moscatel 1875. Due to its difference and rarity, the Bastardo de 1927 didn’t went by unnoticed as well.

Complexity, concentration, deepness and balance. Those were the common characteristics to these two wines. The first one, obviously, drier and thinner than the second which reveals more viscous and molassed notes although showing itself very harmonious and with no drop of excesses. What a great wines!

But the important thing here isn’t to talk about the wines/producers and their particularities and/or differences. That’s a task to each one of my colleagues, to talk about each producer individually.

Here it’s important to talk about all of the plenitude and grandiosity of Madeira wine. Five are the noble varieties of said wine. In a sweetness crescent grading we have: Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Malvasia and yes…the Terrantez!!!

In a sweetness grading matter we can place it between the Verdelho and Boal. But, being so rare and amounting only 1% of the island’s production can’t be even taken into account.

We’re talking about a variety that gives birth to amazing wines. Think for instance in the monstrosity of the Pereira D’Oliveira Terrantez 1880.. From the wines I tasted to this day it’s probably one of the closest to perfection.

Blend_All_About_Wine_IVBAM_3 Madeira's Wine Institute - A Masterclass that made all the difference! Madeira's Wine Institute - A Masterclass that made all the difference! Blend All About Wine IVBAM 3

Tasting table © Blend All About Wine, Lda.

Even though not considered a noble caste, the Tinta Negra, is a variety widely used in the Madeira Wine. Nowadays the Madeira wines produced by this variety are already considerable, not only in quantity but also in quality.

The harvesting’s priority is:

  1. Verdelho;
  2. Boal;
  3. Tinta Negra;
  4. Malvasia;
  5. Sercial;

As regards the vinification process and/or aging, one of two processes may occur: Estufagem or Canteiro.

Estufagem – The wine is placed in stainless steel ovens, heated by a coil system where hot water circulates for a period not less than 3 months, at a temperature between 45 and 50 degrees Celsius. After the “estufagem”, the wine is subjected to an aging period of at least 90 days at room temperature. From this moment on it can remain in stainless steel or be placed in wooden casks, until it meets the conditions that allow the winemaker to do the wine’s completion, so it can be placed in the bottle, with the necessary quality assurance. However, these wines cannot be bottled and marketed before 31th October of the second year, following the harvest. These wines are mainly blends.

Canteiro – The wines selected to age in “Canteiro” (this denomination derives from putting the barrels under wooden beam supports, called canteiros) do so in casks, usually on the higher floors of the warehouses where temperatures are higher, for a minimum period of 2 years. It is an oxidative aging in casks, developing in the wines unique characteristics of intense and complex aromas. The “canteiro” wines can only go out to the market after a minimum of three years, counted from January 1st of the year following the harvest.

The fortification consists in the fermentation stoppage and the addition of wine alcohol at 96%. The timing for the fermentation interruption is scheduled accordingly to the sweetness level intended for the wine. This method allows the outcome of four wine types: dry, mid-dry, mid-sweet and sweet.

To me, speaking of Madeira wine is like speaking of passionate wines, engaging and thrilling. I confess myself completely rendered to its charms. I’m a Madeira wine Geek … it’s true!

Voluptuousness and seduction, lust and lasciviousness, hand in hand with a huge sensitivity, with finesse and wisdom. Who said these seemingly antagonistic characteristics cannot harmonize perfectly? Might all this telluric energy, all this authenticity and depth, encapsulate the foretaste of paradise?

Voltaire said that the Tokaji had the gift to spark up even the smallest fiber of their brains. Well, the he was an illuminist and I’m not … but I think that’s what really happens to me when it comes to Madeira Wine!

But while the Tokaji is considered the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings (so once said Louis XV while offering a glass of that wine to his lover Madame de Pompadour), let me say that, for me, for his triumphant acidity and its martyr winemaking process, conditions that make it almost immortal, Madeira is much more than a wine of kings … it’s truly a GODS’s wine!

And last but not the least have a look at this outstanding video on Madeira wine.

Video provided by the Madeira’s Institute of Wine, Embroidery and Crafts, IP – IVBAM

Contacts
Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira, I.P.
Rua Visconde de Anadia, nº44
9050-020 Funchal
Tel: (+351) 291 211 600
Fax: (+351) 291 224 791
E-mail: ivbam.sra@gov-madeira.pt
Site: www.ivbam.gov-madeira.pt