Posts Tagged : Verdelho

Esporão Verdelho 2004, from the cellar to the table

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

In my early oenophile days, I acquired the habit of long-term wine saving in my cellar. The idea is and will always be to feed my curiosity for watching some of them evolve, as well as the absolute need for keeping another few wines that end up forgotten in there for many years. Those who like wines and who like to enjoy them are usually naturally curious; being curious is part of the condition of being human. That same curiosity makes us want to know a little more about how wines will behave through time, and even how time can educate them or not. What can be taken for certain is that risk is always a factor worth remembering, especially when the wines we keep have no kind of history to back them, ensuring that our patience will prove successful. The exception is all the wines that need to rest for a spell because they are too young and have edgy tannins. And then, a few dozens, then hundreds of bottles end up piled up by type or region. I promise you, the hardest part is beginning all this process. So far, surprises have almost always turned out well; there is always something to learn from these comparisons of the wine when it was young against the adult version it became. Some appear tired and reveal somewhat pronounced wrinkles of old age.

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“Cellar” – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

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Esporão Verdelho 2004 – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Very recently, on the occasion of a dinner with friends at my place, I decided to salvage one of those wines I have been keeping in the cellar, a Esporão Verdelho 2004. This 11 year-old white is a risk, or a moment of insanity – some might say. As it turns out, however, this Verdelho was very able to achieve the wow factor usually only observed in great wines. That factor emerges when most of the people present let a faint smile slip after they taste the wine in their glass and mutter the word “Wow.” I tasted this wine time and again when it was first released into the market. I liked it so much, that I decided to save a few bottles. This may have been the last surviving Verdelho 2004, that revealed envious freshness on the mouth and nose, all the fruit that used to be fresh and is now embraced in syrup, and slightly sweetened, with vegetal touches of herbal tea and a bouquet of flowers, everything is very well composed, forming a serious and adult wine with very well-set values. On the mouth, freshness and a hint of creaminess rolls the fruit round the palate; the latter appears solid and with very good presence, and providing a lot of pleasure when you drink it at first, and again, and again, tirelessly.

This is one of the reasons why I store wine; especially curiosity, but also the satisfaction of having the opportunity to later share them with people who can appreciate their value. The only downside is when a bottle is dried out and we ask ourselves why we didn’t store a few extra bottles.

Herdade do Esporão
Apartado 31, 7200-999
Reguengos de Monsaraz
Tel: (+351) 266 509280
Fax: (+351) 266 519753

Azores Wines, Strange Encounters

Text Ilkka Sirén

I like to travel. Who doesn’t, right? But I don’t like flying and I think spending time at airports is inhuman. Yet it’s something we have to endure. Arriving to a destination, though. That’s magical. Discovering new things is like fuel for me. It’s what makes this whole weird life of ours interesting.

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Waiting for my flight at Frankfurt Airport – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

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Vineyards in Wagram, Austria – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

I recently traveled to Austria to discover some of the best white wines in the world; Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Little did I know I was about to discover something completely different aswell. To my surprise a Portuguese friend of mine was also in Austria during my stay there. The plan was to visit some Austrian wine regions like Wagram which is known for its Grüner and Roter Veltliner wines but also for the region’s deep loess soils.

After day one we gathered in the hotel lobby to enjoy a few glasses of wine with the group. That’s when things got interesting. Despite one, no, two dreadful hotel pizzas that were passed around the table like they were made of uranium. There was a wine that turned the night upside down.

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Verdelho O Original by: António Maçanita 2014 – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

My friend pulled out a bottle of Verdelho O Original by: Antonio Maçanita 2014 from the Azores. Named “Original” because apparently people have a tendency to confuse Verdelho, Verdejo and Gouveio. And the Verdelho from the Azores is the OG one. How was the wine? Extremely drinkable. I think it took me about 10 seconds to finish my first glass. The second glass went down much faster. It had this particular ripeness to it but with a good acidity to back it up. Slightly viscous with a salty kick. I suspect that it might have had some skin contact but either way it had shoulders. Definitely got me even more interested about the Azores.

This group of islands is located over 1,000 kilometers west of continental Portugal literally in the middle of nowhere. A place so isolated and undiscovered by most people that even Captain Ahab would go “thanks, but no thanks”. The truth is that I don’t even know the truth. Unfortunately I have never been there. But the rumour is that the islands of Azores are beyond spectacular. An increasingly rare piece of paradise. Not well-known for their wines <yet> by any stretch of the word but apparently something is cooking over there that just might bring the Azores on the wine map with a bang. Looking forward to it and I really need to make visiting the Azores my top priority.

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