2001 Henriques and Henriques Sercial 20%

Madeira (a Portuguese island, although 1000 km SW, and lies off the NW African coast).

The styles are fortified with neutral spirit, and barrel aged in casks – in this instance bottled in 2014.  Most wines are the result of careful blending; the single vintage release is often called a colheita.

I have previously listed some Madeira internet resources on this blog; one I missed with many details of the wine reviewed is here.

The grape variety Sercial generally makes the driest styles, with sweeter ones ranging through Verdelho, Bual, and Malvasia (Malmsey). Young Madeira styles don’t have the complexities which emerge after 15 or more years (or much longer). But 15-20 years aging suits my budget!

Bright amber colour; scents of salinity and mixed nuts (almond, hazelnut) with citrus peel.

Superb palate, supple and rich, with orange cake, stonefruit, salinity, mixed nuts and astonishing length. Sweetness (55 g/l), is folded in with depth of fruit, and balanced acidity. This wine is fresh, complete and riveting.

To 2030 and 94 points.

Henriques and Henriques 15 y/o twins from Madeira

These wines proved much more of a success than the 20-yo Terrantez I described  in January 2019.

Madeira (a Spanish island) is essentially a lost cause in Australia; there is little readily available; tastings are rare, and presumably its only imported to cater for the (well-heeled) minority that love the style. I have been to precisely one tasting – it didn’t take long to realise that 5 and 10 year old examples didn’t provide excitement or distinction. Don’t bother!

Like many other regions producing fortified wines, there is a cachet (and price premium) for vintage (colheita) examples. Madeira is renowned for its acidity; they will last for decades and provide pleasure over weeks even when opened. The better examples are matured in old large oak, with its inherent slow oxidation and evaporative losses delivering further complexity as the wine mature.

Bibendum and TSA (the Spanish Acquisition – love that name!) import; but good luck finding retail distribution; bits of Blandy’s, and Barbeito also seem available in Australia with a decent Google search.

Here is another website which includes a wealth of information about Henriques and Henriques wines.

pair 15 yo madeira

Henriques and Henriques 15 yo Verdelho Madeira 20%
Amber colour; it exudes a mix of dried pear, roast coffee bean and fruitcake spices, with a pleasing touch of floor polish. Its relatively dry (72 g/l rs) for the style, and presents somewhat as a cross between a tawny style and an amontillado sherry; hazelnut, date and caramels make a winning presence. It’s not straightforward to suggest food matches, but a charcuterie platter or a French onion soup will work.

Drink now, and 91 points

Henriques and Henriques 15 yo Malvasia Madeira 20%
Teak and mahogany colour; iodine, fig, orange peel. The palate (110 g/l rs) is entirely balanced; bitter dark chocolates, salted pecan and peanuts; this chewy wine has enormous presence and style. The acidity cuts a swathe through the richness. Very smart! Match with a stiff coffee or an aged cheese- perhaps a cheddar or Comte?

Drink now, and 93 points for this wine of intrigue.

Henriques and Henriques Terrantez 20% (Madeira)

I am well out of my comfort zone here, as respectable Madeiras are not easy to find, or affordable in Australia, so my tasting experience is limited. This wine was an opportunity to increase my knowledge; although retail at around $125, an extravagant exercise.

Madeira is an island of Portugal, but lies roughly 1000k south-west of the mainland, and has a Mediterranean climate.

The main variety used in making (cheaper) Madeira is Tinta Negra Mole; the higher quality varieties are Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, and Malvasia (Malmsey), in order of increasing sweetness.  Terrantez is another quality variety, but an outlier – due to its rarity. Cheaper, earlier drinking madeiras are made by heating, and cooling the wines; higher-quality wines rely on barrel aging and associated oxidation, so these wines are “sherry-like”. Once opened, they can be consumed – very slightly chilled- over several weeks.

There is more extensive detail on the internet than I expected; an excellent resource on Madeira wine is here, another from Nicks is here and a blog from a mad-keen devotee here.

h&h 20 terrantez

It’s amber in colour with a clear, almost green rim; bouquet has spices, walnut, fruitcake, curry powder, dried fruits/fruitcake, but there is a stale note too. The palate is better; medium-dry, lively with fresh almond, citrus peel, fig, coffee , abundant acidity and a dry crisp finish.

The wine will not improve after bottling, but will hold for a long time; the touch of staleness (real, or unappreciated with my naivety at the style) restricts my score to 88 points.

1953 times two

Two wines each 64 years old, and I tasted these rare, expensive wines thanks to a generous friend.



1953 Massandra White muscat 12.9%

Massandra is a winery based in Crimea (Ukraine), with extensive stocks of old wines, capable of lasting many decades.

This wine’s colour was a light amber (but with lots of sediment), just so fresh, floral and grapey -hard to believe its so old; there is orange peel and cumquat, ginger, and a suggestion of ginger beer, plus light caramel. Apparently 240 g/l of residual sugar, but still very light on its feet. It seems indestructible, but further change is unlikely. Its youthful flavours totally belie the colour, and the palate with its sensations of icing sugar, is more straightforward than the bouquet.

Drink now, 90 points (add a few points for historic merit)

1953 Barbeito Boal Madeira

Madeira lies 1000 k southeast of Portugal, and has a tropical climate. Grape varieties used in making madeira wines (from driest to sweetest) are sercial, veredlho, bual and malvasia.

Vintage-dated Madeira must be aged at least 20 years in barrel, undergoing gradual oxidation and concentration.

A very useful link is here.

This wine is quite confronting for people unused to fortified wines, and comparisons to an old amontillado sherry are inevitable.

Dark toffee coloured, initially the wine was quite spiritous, with a range of awkward aromas- freshly grated parmesan cheese, pine nuts, green olives, almonds, coffee and then a rush of mixed dried fruits. VA is unavoidable, but here is quite tolerable, mingled with the rancio.  With some breathing, the nuttiness begins to drive through and quite overt acidity balances the residual sugar.  Matching with food would be futile, it’s a wine to savour on its own.

Drink now, 91 points (perhaps more for people with more experience with this style)