Two sweet, and two strong

2000 Ch Rieussec (Fargues, Sauternes) 13.5%
1999 Ch Coutet (Barsac, Sauternes) 13%
These were served as a pair (masked). The first wine had more of a copper colour, but with definitive Sauternes character – vanilla, cumquat, wax, honey, bitter orange and citrus rind. It seemed ripe, ready, and enjoyable. 2000 was a wet year with a small crop – 65% Semillon, 24% sav blanc, 11% muscadelle.
Drink to 2025, and 92 points

The second wine also seemed typically Sauternes, albeit with less overt acidity. Pale orange colour, melon and tropical pineapple were its key features. This was also ready, but in a subtler style than the first wine. Sound, correct but few thrills. 75% Semillon, 23% sav blanc, 2% muscadelle.
Drink now, 90 points

I (correctly) guessed both wines were from the mid to late 1990’s, and from “lesser” years.

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Henriques and Henriques 20 yo Malvasia 20%

H&H 20 malvasia

Indestructible; serious Madeira will keep for months after opening! This makes a bottle price turn into a bargain. Many don’t blink at the price of a Portuguese VP that (should) be kept many years for maximum reward; the incredible Australian muscats and topaques that can cost hundreds of dollars are still a certain bargain; and there is Madeira. It’s part of Portugal, even though 1000k south-west (closer to Morocco).

The “under 10 year olds” Madeira category holds no magic for me; 15 years sometimes; 20 + usually, and older examples are available that should amaze friends who possess descriptive talents and senses alive to possibilities – not just fortified wines.

Malvasia (malmsey) is the sweetest of the Madeira varieties, and this wine will be around 100 g/l of residual sugar, with the acidity making the wines a delicious sweet and sour playground.

Dark amber colour with a clear khaki/green rim; walnuts, mahogany, espresso, earth and brick – roasted but not burnt.

This wine is a meal in a glass – fruitcake spices, dried fruits, almond, walnut, fig, dates and high acidity that leaves me begging for more.

After opening, the style benefits from a decant and a few hours- at least- to unfurl,

Drink now (there’s no improvement after bottling); 93 points