About SercialPalest and the driest of the classical madeira varieties, Sercial is known as ‘Esgano Cão’—‘dog strangler’—on the Portuguese mainland, a nod to its fiery, mouth-puckering acidity. At its best, racy and high-toned, it is a wine of exquisite tension: Sercial shows dry despite containing 20-60 g/l RS; its sweetness balanced by an exhilarating, mouthwatering tang of acidity. Pungent with dried orange, almonds and saline spices in youth, Sercial mellows in maturity: acidity less taut but no less integral; its deep nuttiness to the fore. There are currently just 16-ha found on the island.
Tasting NotesMedium brown with a ruddy cast. Incredibly expressive on the nose, with notes of fresh seaweed, bergamot, unpeated island Scotch, and the finest of Taiwanese oolongs. On the palate, the attack is very slightly sweeter and orangey, and the acid is very complex, never getting in the way. Some fresh and dried flowers, and Riesling-y apple and petrol, turning drier and more energetic the whole way to a mineral and energetic finish. A captivating wine that still allows a pairing with oysters or other shellfish.
About Henriques & Henriques
It might be said that the history of Henriques & Henriques is the history of Madeira itself. Legend has it that Infante Dom Henriques planted the island’s first vines in 1425. These vines gave fruit to one of the “first families of Madeira” and in the process sunk deep roots which Henriques’ descendants and successors continue to draw upon in guiding H&H today.
João Joaquim Gonçalves Henriques founded the firm in 1850 as a partidista, supplying wine to other merchants from extensive Henriques vineyard holdings while continuing to amass significant stocks of old wines in the family cellars. In 1925, Henriques & Henriques began to bottle and export Madeira produced entirely from their own vineyards—an anomaly amongst producers on the island. Today, Henriques & Henriques is led by CEO and winemaker Humberto Jardim, one of Madeira’s great visionaries and ambassadors. The firm continues to source some of its needs from its own vineyards, most notably from a terraced, 10-hectare vineyard at Quinta Grande—the single largest on island, replanted in 1995.
Against the tides of urban development, H&H have been in the forefront of vineyard planting and preservation of Madeira’s noble varieties: Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Malvasia and Terrantez, while simultaneously playing a key role in the reappraisal of the underrated Tinta Negra, recently releasing an unprecedented 50-year expression. Likewise, H&H’s age-statement varietal wines are widely regarded as benchmark articulations: always 100% of the stated varietal (e.g., Verdelho), the blend always composed of stocks well in excess of the statement requirement (e.g., 15-year).
Finally, H&H continues to boast an impressive selection of pre-1925 “Garrafeira” (vintage) and Solera bottlings originating in the Henriques’ family cellars. Without question, the most celebrated of these is the “Heavenly Quartet”—four legendary wines from the late 18th century—that are amongst the most transcendent expressions of Madeira extant today. To taste any one of these is, quite literally, to “drink history” itself, as well as to share in the accumulated wisdom—of family, family-owned vineyards and old stocks—that continue to define Henriques & Henriques today. Full details
About Madeira DOCThe archipelago of Madeira has long profited from its position in shipping lanes, from the 1500s, when ships under sail called at Funchal to pick up food and wine before the trade winds blew their ships west to the New World, to today, when cruise ships dock and world travelers sample the foods, crafts, and wines of the island. The Madeira DOC governs the fortified and heated-to-oxidation wines of the island, regulating the grapes, minimum age, and residual sugars of each category. While the Madeira laws give producers plenty of leeway in terms of blending and age statements, Henriques & Henriques’ blending approach is crystal clear—true minimum age statements and only monovarietal wines.
|mountainous; subtropical but highly varied
|mixed volcanic (basalt, tufa)
|mid-September to early October; hand-harvested
|whole-cluster; skin maceration; fermented in lagares with native yeasts
|traditional agurardente de cana (70% abv)
|in canteiro for 41 years; bottled in 2006
|Oxidative/Oxidized Wine; Fortified