Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Excellent Tour and Tasting at Henriques & Henriques Winery on Island of Madeira
Currently the 3rd largest producer on the island, and the only winery to own 11.5 hectares of vineyards (28.6 acres), Henriques & Henriques was founded in 1850 by Joao Joachim Henriques, but today is co-owned by CEO Humberto Jardim and partners from France. Paulo introduced Lupe and me to Humberto, who toured us through the winery and regaled us with fascinating tales of history and his long friendship with John Cossart, the very illustrious winemaker who passed away in 2008.
Innovative Barrel Program
Fascinating Quotes from Humberto
As the tour progressed, we became more enchanted with Humberto’s obvious love and pride for Madeira wines, his exceptional knowledge of the island and its history, and his poetic and charming eloquence when describing his wines. My favorite quote was: “We enslave the wine to all thing it doesn’t like, such as oxygen and heat, until finally it says, ‘I give up. I’m Madeira.’”
• Sercial is an excellent aperitif on a hot day, where its searing acidity can wash away fatigue. Generally 49 – 65 grams per liter residual sugar.
• Verdelho is bolder and makes a good pairing with fish. Generally 65 – 80 grams per liter residual sugar.
• Boal is like an English tea where you can have it with cakes and sandwiches. Generally 80 – 96 grams per liter residual sugar. We were also informed that Boal is known as “Malvasia Fino” in Portugal.
• Malvasia (they prefer not to use the British word “Malmsey”) is a perfect dessert on its own, but can also work magically with custards and creamy based desserts. Generally 96 – 120 grams per liter residual sugar.
A Tasting of More Than 20 Magical Madeiras
For the tasting, Humberto escorted us to the technical tasting room next to the lab, so we were able to watch some of the workers analyze the wine as we enjoyed more than twenty different Madeiras. He explained that the best Madeiras are like a perfectly balanced triangle of sugar, alcohol, and acidity. Nothing should stick out, but all three should work together in harmony.
My favorite wines of the tasting were as follows:
• 1998 H&H Single Harvest Tinta Negra Mole, Medium Rich with wonderful texture on the palate
• 1964 H&H Sercial – mind-blowing, with a classic nose of nuts, cheese, dried orange and refreshing acidity
• 15 Year Old H&H Verdelho – very well balanced, dried fruit & nuts
• 20 Year Old H&H Verdelho – honey notes with a finish that goes on forever
• 2000 Vintage H&H Boal – toffee, carmel, salt, yum!
H&H Wine Labels & Visitor Center
I was impressed with the memorable labels of Henriques & Henriques wines with their distinctive H&H symbol highlighted in a box, and color coded to match the different wine levels, such as generic (3 years of age), 5 year, 10 year and 15 year. Very easy for consumers to spot on a store shelf and easy to remember – however perhaps a tad tall for distributor’s tastes, I was told. Colheita and Vintage wines are wisely sold in the traditional dark Madeira bottle with the white stencil letters.
We were honored when at the end of the tour and tasting Humberto accompanied us to a wonderful 5-course lunch at Restaurant Vincente with local food and – of course – Madeira wines. (See prior posting)