Henriques & Henriques
Rare Madeiras From Their Cellars
We are pleased to offer a few gems from the cellars of H&H.
Henriques & Henriques have established an impeccable reputation as one of the top sources for high-quality Madeira. They are the leading independent Madeira shipping house and practice an uncompromising devotion to the quality of both their vineyards and their wines (Henriques is the only house we know of that owns and farms a significant proportion of their own vineyards).
It is not this producer’s younger wines I am focusing on today. Henriques are also unique in their holdings of extensive stocks in both bottle and cask—some more than a century (or two!) old. We’re excited to offer a broad selection of these today, all immediately available.
I have included independent reviews and bottling notes from Henriques themselves where these are not available. Although these notes do not come close to capturing the astonishing quality in the bottle, nor the emotion involved when tasting such wines.
“Top-quality madeira is one of the world’s most wickedly underrated fine wines. I know you will have read that about sherry – and that’s true too – but I can understand why people don’t like sherry. It does have a characteristic flavour that some palates will find off-putting. But madeira tastes like the elixir of life itself.” Jancis Robinson
Very Old Reserves:
These Very Old Reserves were inherited by J.J.G. Henriques before he founded the company in 1850. Even in 1850 they were already considered to be old wines and, as such, they had already lost their vintage date! Henriques believe them to be about 200 years old, although they are dated with their first bottling date. As you can tell by the price, these count amongst the rarest Madeira still available to purchase.
Sercial bottled 1965 (over 200 years old) $3500 (2 bottles available)
21% alc/vol, 47 grams of residual sugar. “Medium gold color with greenish tints. The aroma is totally harmonious and not aggressive. A dry, very attractive, firm, nutty beginning. Good depth and a long finish. A wine of great level, balanced and not excessively acidic.”
The Solera system no longer exists in Madeira, but it has a long and proud history in the region. Some argue Madeira was the first area to use such a system of fractional blending, which was born out of rising demand outstripping supply, and a desire to keep quality constant. Only 10% of an old wine could be withdrawn from any cask each year, to be topped with 10% young wines. This could only be done to the limit of ten times before the solera was to be closed. The dates on these extraordinary and very rare wines refer to the foundation year of the solera. The wines have all been bottled within the last decade.
H&H Founder’s Solera 1894 - $1500 (4 bottles available)
Solera start date: 1894, close date: 1899. 20% alc/vol, 161 grams of residual sugar. “Impressive color. When comparing with the 1898, the Founder’s Reserve is dark amber but transparent. The bouquet is all about complexity and underlying subtle scents. I feel stupid to even trying to tear these elements apart but hey, that’s the wine nut in me taking over. Vanilla fudge, ground coffee, nutmeg, raisins, Tia Maria (cocoa), wet earth, smoke and a touch of sea air. Fabulous! On the palate it changes a bit and I am amazed by the pure and generous fruit feel. Elegance incarnated with tobacco, dark chocolate, ground coffee, burnt sugar and nutmeg. Intense aftertaste with that unmistakable acidity kick leading you home to Madeira. True world class. I hope you, dear reader, gets to taste this some day. It sets a standard for just how good Solera can be!” 96-97 points Niklas Jörgensen
H&H Verdelho Solera 1898 - $1300 (12 bottles available)
"Amber color, slightly green edge to it. Elegant, intense and ethereal bouquet. Spicy notes, almonds, marzipan, orange peel, paint, milk chocolate, corints and balsamico. Wow! 77 grams of sugar per litre but the acidity makes me write medium-dry. The 1898 is simply put; a drinkable poem - one I won't forget in the first place” 95-96 points Niklas Jörgensen
Vintage Madeira, or Garrafeira, must be aged for a minimum of 20 years in cask, and a further two years in bottle before release. On the category, Alex Liddell, author of Madeira (Hurst & Company, 2014) has written, “These wines are the glory of Madeira and, with the best examples of dated wines from the past, the yardstick by which it is to be judged to be a world class wine.”
1976 H&H Terrantez - $490 (2 bottles available)
21% alc/vol, 72 grams of residual sugar. “Old gold wine. Aroma to dried fruits, namely raisins, light vanilla and some wood. Complex taste between dry and sweet. This is a perfectly balanced wine. Long finish.”
Offered subject unsold - ETA Oakland Late November/December