Text Olga Cardoso | Translation Teresa Calisto
I was recently at Madeira Island to take part in the 5th edition of Rota das Estrelas, a gastronomic festival of enormous quality – see here (www.rotadasestrelas.com). Naturally, my trip to Madeira would have to include a visit to some local wine producers as well. A lot of wines were tasted and a large part of them left pleasant memories. One of those producers was Henriques & Henriques, a company whose history goes back to 1850 and that, unlike what usually happens in Madeira, owns a considerable amount of its own vineyards. In this company, now mainly belonging to Porto Cruz, everything exudes organization, cleanliness and care. What impressed me the most, besides the wines of course, was their lovely cooperage. Yes, in Madeira, wine producers have their own cooperages given their relevance in the wine making process and ageing of liqueur wines.
The tasting was masterfully conducted by Humberto Jardim, the company’s C.E.O. and a great Madeira wines’ connoisseur. Using different profiles, vintages and grape varieties, he led us in a journey through time, knowledge and emotion. This producer’s portfolio is quite large and is available on their website www.henriquesehenriques.pt, where you will find images and tasting notes on the several different wines. In this article I will only mention 5 of the wines tasted those that impressed and touched me the most. The grand examples of Madeira are wines that fascinate, that excite and leave us perplexed. These are wines that have gone through great vicissitudes along their way, namely maturation at very high temperatures, wines that suffer extraordinary metamorphosis that transform them into something truly exceptional. Marked by a pungent acidity, they resist like no other the passing of the years, decades, centuries…
Marked by some astringency that translates into aromas and tastes of stems and rachis, this wine is bright and crystalline. With clear dried fruits and spices notes, it is complex, with the grape variety’s typical dryness and vipery acidity. Deep and vibrant, it finishes long and persistent. A memorable Sercial.
Verdelho Solera 1898
If there are examples of perfection then this Madeira is one of them! I may be biased, given my love for this grape variety, but the truth is that this wine left me completely surrendered and fascinated. Everything in this wine is gold. From its old golden color to its noble and brilliant complexity, everything sparkles, impresses, subdues! The nose releases dried fruit and honey aromas and delicate old wood notes. The mouth is intense, voluminous and immensely creamy. An anthology wine!
With a degree of sweetness properly grounded in an acute acidity, this Madeira is another example of charm and pedigree. Caramel, pralines and ferrous metals aromas, it reveals an immense olfactory diversity in a nose that however, presents clean and seductive. The mouth is full and round. With a perfect balance and harmony, it leaves an endless finish that I will not soon forget. One of the best Boal I have ever tasted!
Made from a very difficult grape variety, corresponding for that reason to a tiny percentage of the vineyards in Madeira, this wine seems to be a bit crazy and undue. This difficult and rare grape variety creates truly unique and sweeping wines. This 1954 is perhaps one of its purest manifestations. The nose is a bomb of aromas: dried fruits, honey and very smooth old wood. With remarkable structure and texture, it reveals a complexity and depth that make it almost inhuman. Had it not been made by men, I would say this was a divine creation!
Founders Solera 1894
Essentially made of Malvasia, the sweetest of the noble grape varieties of Madeira wine, this Solera has strong aromas of raisins, orange zest and also a little bit of spices. Magnified by the years gone by, today it has enormous concentration and complexity. The color is dark and intense and the mouth has an impressive volume. Full and unctuous, with a very soft texture it ends quite long. A wine to chew, a wine time has enhanced!
Henriques & Henriques – Vinhos, S.A.
Sítio de Belém 9300-138 Câmara de Lobos Madeira – Portugal
Tel: (+351) 291 941 551/2
Fax: (+351) 291 941 590