Madeira at the Big Fortified Tasting (BFT)

All five Madeira shippers managed to attend the BFT 2010 which was held in London earlier this year and I made a special effort to taste their wines. Of the 55 Madeiras on show these are the wines that impressed me the most (listed by shipper).



Blandy’s Alvada ****

 Mid-deep, nut brown with a tinge of green, lifted, smoky with a touch of balsamic; lovely texture, clean figgy flavours, very smooth, seductive and easy going in style, delicious served chilled after a meal in place of an aged tawny Port. 17       

 Blandy’s 10 Year Old Bual ****

Mid-amber mahogany in colour; toffee and butterscotch on the nose; round, soft toffee and caramel flavours, rich, full, malty and very easy to drink. 17.5


Blandy’s 10 Year Old Malmsey ***

Mid-deep mahogany, rich prune-like fruit on the nose showing some concentration of age; fat, round, with a lovely mouth-filling quality, raisins and prunes, rich and satisfying 16


Blandy’s Malmsey Harvest 2001 *** / ****

Mid-amber; hint of wood smoke on the nose; smooth, rich with fine texture in the mouth, dried fig richness offset by delicate acidity leaning for a fresh, clean finish. Very good. 16.5


Blandy’s Colheita Bual 1991 ****

 Pale to mid amber-orange; very fine high-toned citrus peel aromas and flavours, lime lemon and orange, very pure, taut and beautifully balanced. Great poise and finesse. 18

 Blandy’s Colheita Malmsey 1992 *** / ****

Mid-deep amber-orange; lovely lifted citrus marmalade aromas; thick-cut marmalade character in the mouth, rich texture, fat yet well balanced. 16.5  

Blandy’s 1977 Bual ****

 Bright amber-orange; lovely lifted tea leaf aromas, touch of butterscotch, positively sings from the glass; rich and refined with a lovely steak of citrus acidity cutting through the caramelised fruit. Gentle finish. Very fine. 17.5



Barbeito Boal Reserva ***

Very pale amber-yellow (Barbeito use no caramel in their wines); singed, baked biscuit aromas, light, delicate, slight savoury cheese character with a gentle smokey finish. 15.5

Barbeito Sercial Old Reserve 10 Year Old *** 

Pale, old gold colour; subdued nutty character on the nose, slightly dusty; gentle, savoury, spiced nuts on the palate with a hint of dried apricot on the finish. Just short of dry and but very true to style..16

Barbeito Verdelho 10 year Old ***/**** 

Very pale amber; gentle, fragrant, leafy aromas, very characteristic of Verdelho; soft, round, savoury sweet and quite rich in style, orangey flavours. Fine balance. 16.5  

Barbeito Boal 1982 Frasqueira **** 

Mid-amber; fine, pure high-toned tea leaf character on the nose; lemon tea and dried apricots, lovely poise with a fine streak of acidity to offset the gentle richness. 17.5

 Barbeito Sercial 1988 Frasqueira ****

 Mid amber; very fine butterscotch character on the nose, yet bone dry and quite austere (just as Sercial should be). Well balanced. Very pure.17 


 Justino’s 10 Year Old  Sercial ***

 Pale gold, enchanting floral aromas with a slight undertone of cheese-cake; fresh tangy fruit, touch of toffee apple, fresh acidity, slightly rustic but not without charm. 15

Justino’s Boal 1978 *** / ****

 Mid-deep amber with an olive-green tinge to the rim; vegetal aromas, wild sorrel; quite full, rich and well-defined with a lovely thick-cut marmalade character, brisk acidity and a slightly dusty finish. 16.5

Broadbent Terrantez 1978 (bottled for Broadbent Selections in the USA by Justinos) ***

Amber tawny, slightly subdued and dusty with savoury-sweet aromas; fine bitter-sweet orange marmalade tang balanced by fresh acidity and a dusting of tannin. Slighly rustic in style but good nonetheless. 16

H.M. Borges

 H.M.Borges Old Reserve Sercial (10 Years Old) ****

 Pale-mid amber, olive green tinge; fine, high toned, perfumed, floral aromas; dry yet full, nutty character, toasted almonds, followed by bracing acidity. Very fine poise and balance for a 10 year old. 18

H.M. Borges Old Reserve Boal (10 Years Old) ****

 Mid-amber mahogany; fine high-toned aromas, very expressive; clean and zesty with fine figgy richness and a bitter sweet finish. Very good poise and overall balance. 17.5

H.M. Borges Old Reserve Malmsey (10 Years Old) ****

 Deep mahogany, olive green tinge to rim; very attractive smoky, autumnal aromas; rich and concentrated with lovely round texture, slightly blunt but with soft figgy fruit offset by fresh acidity. 17

H.M.Borges Boal 1977 ****

 Mid –deep amber, thin green rim; very fine, gentle,.ethereal lifted aromas, another wine that sings from the glass, floral with a hint of green tea; delicate leafy character, candied, thick-cut marmalade richness. Very fine. 18  

Henriques & Henriques

 Henriques & Henriques 10 Year Old Sercial ****

 Mid-deep amber; fine, floral high-toned aromas, lifted, fresh and very clean; crisp, clean, slightly singed leafy fruit, very incisive with a long, fresh, mouthwatering finish, very characteristic of Sercial. 18

Henriques & Henriques 10 Year Old Malmsey **** 

Mid-mahogany; singed leaves, dried fruit and flowers with a touch of resin; rich fruit cake character, full but far from cloying, a lovely complex wine. Very good in its class. 17.5

Henriques & Henriques 15 Year Old Boal *****

 Mid-mahogany, olive green rim; very fine, fragrant aroma, leaves, green tea and flowers; rich yet gentle with near perfect concentration and an incisive flavour followed by a finish that goes on and on. Outstanding. 19

Henriques & Henriques 15 Year Old Malmsey **** / *****

 Deep mahogany, olive green rim; enchantingly beautiful nose, fresh, floral, jasmine; wonderfully rich, concentrated flavours, a touch of toffee apple, with fine incisive acidity to counterbalance the richness. 18.5

Pereira d’Oliveira

 D’Oliveira’s 15 Year Old Sweet ***

 Mid-deep red-tinged mahogany (Tinta Negra Mole  is presumably the main grape variety); rich rather medicinal fruit, very rich and intense in the mouth, sweetness offset by crisp acidity, slightly casky length. 15.5

D’Oliveira’s Colheita Verdelho 1985 **** 

It is still a mystery to me why this wine is bottled as a colheita when it would qualify for frasqueira / vintage status: deep colour for Verdelho; powerful citrus character with the tang of old fashioned marmalade, rich and pungent with lovely fresh acidity and a slightly rustic finish. 17

D’Oliveira’s Reserva Verdelho 1973 ***

 It is another unexplained mystery why these wines are bottled as ‘reservas’, a term that usually designates a five year old blend: mid-amber mahogany; lovely high-toned, caramelised aromas with a touch of Demerera; full, pungent, incisive with a powerful tawny marmalade tang and bitter-sweet length. 16.5      

D’Oliveira’s Reserva Boal 1958 ****

 Mid-deep mahogany; pungent smoky – casky character on the nose, wet leaves, but not without charm; very rich, intense and powerful, beautifully developed with a lime marmalade tang. Slightly rustic but good.  17


19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty