Later on this year I will be exploring Madeira. Not vicariously, although that would perhaps be easier (and less expensive); I will in fact be planting my feet on the soil of this sub-tropical (sounds good!) Atlantic island for the first time in my life.
Naturally, a little Madeira-orientated experimentation and initiation is called for. I started off with two entry-level ten-year old wines from Henriques & Henriques, one a Sercial and the other a Malvasia. The Sercial is pictured below – if you think the picture looks unusually ‘stretched’, it isn’t. The wine comes in very slim, stoppered bottles.
Henriques & Henriques Madeira Ten Years Old Sercial: A golden hue in the glass, lightly toasted, with a faint green tinge to the rim of the wine. The aromatics are redolent of toasted nuts, with little peaty, wood-smoke tones, but more prominently a clean citrus tang. The palate is fleshy and rich, and although described as a dry wine, it is certainly not bone dry, as there is a generous feel to it all. Good grip underneath it though, and wonderfully freh and invigorating acidity which, with the very direct and well defined nutty flavours, combine to give this a real energy on the palate. I think would prefer a little less fat on the palate, perhaps a less plump feel to it, but otherwise this is certainly well composed and full of character. 15.5/20 (March 2013)
Henriques & Henriques Ten Year Old Malvasia: A rich, walnut-brown at its core, this wine fades out towards the rim to a rich, toasty golden hue. The nose does not suggest great sweetness, but does call to mind the scents of caramel, walnuts, dates and raisins. The sweetness certainly shows on the palate though, the start very textured and fleshy, and this sensation continues through the middle and finish. From within the wine there wells up a great spicy grip, with flavours of nuts and brulée, but also a keen, charged acidity, not especially fine or precise but certainly with enough energy to cut through the sweet midpalate and finish. There is a lot of vigour here, and it does well to carry along the sweet substance of the wine. 16.5/20 (March 2013)
Well, it’s not a bad start. Hopefully I will encounter one or two more bottles before I board the plane this summer.