Monday, March 14, 2016

Madeira Heaven: Henriques & Henriques

Credit: Henriques & Henriques.
It's been a month since I returned from Madeira, but I'm still reeling. This Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco is one of the most stunning places on earth, and the wines made here are unlike wines made anywhere else. (Click here for my primer on Madeira wine, which discussed how the different styles and the unique production and aging methods.)

While on the island, I visited six of the eight producers. I wrote about
Barbeito, D'Oliveiras and Justino's already. Now, I turn to another great producer, Henriques & Henriques. This renowned firm was founded in 1850 by João Gonçalves Henriques. When he died, his two sons created a partnership, hence the name Henriques & Henriques, or H&H as it's often called.

H&H's headquarters are located west of Funchal in a steely and modern facility. Humberto Jardim, the firm's Managing Director and CEO, showed myself and some other wine lovers around the winery and poured us wine-ranging examples of Madeira wine from their impressive portfolio.

I toured the massive cellars, which are stacked high with barrels undergoing the estufagem process, used for the best wines and allows the barrels to age as they're exposed to heat and oxygen.

The crew (myself with the hat) in H&H's
cellars, Humberto Jardim on the right.

These wines are refreshing and exciting, but, like all Madeira wine, they honor a rich sense of history.

I've pasted my notes on the H&H wines below.

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Monte Seco - Portugal, Madeira
Smells dry and highly oxidized, lots of salted nuts. So tart on the palate with bright lemon, salted lime and some white peach, along with salted nuts. Not very complicated, but fun, innovative stuff. (85 points)

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Full Rich - Portugal, Madeira
Smells of brown sugar, honey and hot oil. Creamy, sweet and sugary with flavors of caramel and sweet plum cake. A decent entry-level wine. (83 points)

1997 Henriques & Henriques Madeira Tinta Negra Single Harvest Fine Rich Madeira - Portugal, Madeira
Smells of cognac, honey, spiced tea and old wood furniture. Full and smooth on the palate, this is nutty, long and elegant. Aged in Cognac barrels. Very cool stuff. (90 points)

1998 Henriques & Henriques Madeira Tinta Negra Single Harvest Fine Rich Madeira - Portugal, Madeira
More floral than the 97. Smooth and velvety on the palate with orange marmalade, honey, caramel and cigar smoke. Subtle complexity in here. Unlike the 97, this is not aged in Cognac barrels. (89 points)

2001 Henriques & Henriques Madeira Sercial Single Harvest - Portugal, Madeira
Almond, clover and fresh flowers on the nose. Brisk and fresh, salty and briny, a lovely texture but so much brightness and generous acid. Lemon, orange peel, almond, chalky notes. Well done. (89 points)

1971 Henriques & Henriques Madeira Sercial - Portugal, Madeira
Nose: floral perfume, eucalyptus and cigar box. Acid is high but integrated well. Candied lemon, ginger, white tea, crusty sea salt, almond shell. Wow, there is a lot going on here but it’s held together incredibly well. (92 points)

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Verdelho 15 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Smells like tropical, glazed fruits (a whole lot of them). Sweet pineapple, glazed pears, canned peaches, honey. Good stuff, but I was expecting to like this more than I did. (87 points)

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Verdelho 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Deep, complex aromas of almond, apricot, honey, candied lemon and sea salt. Juicy on the palate, full of dried, tropical fruits, orange marmalade, honeycomb, spiced tea and dried flowers. Ripping acidity, sea salt, complex nutty elements. Lots going on here. (91 points)

2000 Henriques & Henriques Madeira Boal Single Harvest - Portugal, Madeira
On the nose: sweet honey, dried apricots, spiced tea. Rich and tropical with lots of honey, dates, sweet flowers. Rich but a more reserved style Bual. (88 points)

1957 Henriques & Henriques Madeira Boal - Portugal, Madeira
Smells like an old furniture oiling rag, complete with that lemony, varnish scent but also lots of floral perfume, nougat and honey. Rich texture and sweetness but lovely acid. Smooth, complex, laced with flavors or orange rind, dried wax, lemon oil. So good. (93 points)

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Malmsey 15 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Nose of orange marmalade, brown sugar, Sweet and rich but stays bright and salty. Complexity is quite nice, and there’s a shot of salty, nutty complexity that keeps the wine elegant despite the richness. (90 points)

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Malvasia 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Smooth, rich, spicy, velvety, full of complex flavors. Gorgeous stuff. (94 points)

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Terrantez 20 Years Old - Portugal, Madeira
Aromas of almonds, orange peel and some oily, waxy, polish notes. Complex and spicy with tart acidity. Orange and lemon peel mix with honey, clove and spiced tea. Acid lingers on the tart finish. (90 points)

N.V. Henriques & Henriques Madeira Tinta Negra 50 Year Old - Portugal, Madeira
What a stunner of a wine. Such complexity, such elegance, such depth. The flavors are superb, as is the balance. A real "wow" kind of wine. (96 points)

1894 Henriques & Henriques Madeira "Founder's Solera" - Portugal, Madeira
One of my favorite wines of the trip. What a stunner. Aromatically, I get old leather, cigar lounge, brown sugar, musk, eucalyptus and floral potpourri. Full and so complex but the brightness is incredible. Flavors of musk, leather, library dust, clove, cinnamon and coffee. But it's still so vibrant with these elements of orange marmalade, cocoa and white flowers. So long and pure. Whoa. (97 points)

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