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Henriques & Henriques 15 Year Old Verdelho
‘There are only two names in Madeira…’, so the saying goes, and from their outstanding performance over the years in the Decanter World Wine Awards this has a ring of truth.
The company is unique among the Madeira shippers in that it owns its own vineyards: 10 hectares (huge by Madeira standards) at Quinta Grande, 600m above the fishing community of Câmara de Lobos.
The Henriques family became land owners in the area as far back as the mid-fifteenth century, only a few years after the island was discovered by the Portuguese.
In 1850, João Joaquim Henriques established a wine producing company and when the last member of the family died in 1968 he left the firm to three friends and business partners.
It is now run in conjunction with Justino’s (the island’s largest shipper) by a descendent of one of those friends, Humberto Jardim.
Verdelho is the most planted of Madeira’s five classic white grape varieties (the others are Sercial, Bual, Malvasia and Terrantez). It performs well at higher altitudes on the south side of the island producing medium dry wines with that wonderful streak of acidity that characterises all good Madeira.
H&H have done very well over the years with their 10 and 15 year-old blends and their 20 year-old Malvasia and Terrantez both won silver medals in this year’s competition.
But their 15 Year Old Verdelho won the trophy for its lifted aromatic complexity, depth and near perfect poise.
Aged in cask in warm sunlit lodges with a view of the Atlantic, like all well-aged Madeira this wine can be enjoyed one day, re-corked and revisited the following week or month without coming to any harm. No wine offers so much repeated pleasure.
Written by Richard Mayson