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Eric Ifune’s most interesting fortified wines of 2017


Eric Ifune’s love of fortified wines once again comes through in his third annual post of his favorite wines of the year.

Once again, I’m naming my most interesting fortified wines of this year, 2017. Not necessarily the best, but the most interesting. They are listed chronologically.

Bastardo and Moscatel Madeira in New York

1875 Shortridge-Lawton Bastardo
Tasted at a large tasting of Bastardo and Moscatel Madeira in New York. This was the best wine of the tasting. Shortridge-Lawton was an old shipper founded in the mid-18th century. It is now a minor label of the Madeira Wine Company. This wine was bottled by the MWC for the Sherry-Lehman shop in the 1970’s.

Bastardo, a red skinned variety, almost completely disappeared from the island due to Phylloxera. A few growers have replanted a bit. I believe there’s now about half a hectare grown currently.

Red-copper green in color. Aromas of lemons and a bit of musk. On the palate, very rich and mouth filling. More citrus flavors. Excellent acidity and very, very long. Much better than both Blandy’s and Cossart-Gordon’s 1875 Bastardos at the same tasting.

50 year old blends

A new category of indicated age wines was approved for Madeira a couple of years ago. This is the 50 year old category. Several producers have now released 50 year old blends. I managed to taste a few on the island this past spring. Given the extensive aging needed for quality Madeira, this is an exciting new category.

Justino’s 50 year old Terrantez.
Bottled Feb. 24, 2017.
Terrantez is my favorite variety on Madeira. Still relatively rare, it’s gaining in plantings. Copper-bronze in color. Smoky, nutty, and tangy aromas with limes and a hint of VA. Rich and concentrated on the palate. A proper old Terrantez with a hint of bitterness at the end. Long and balanced.

Henriques & Henriques 50 year old Tinta Negra
Bottled Sept. 2016.
The same legislation which allowed for 50 year old wines also permitted the Tinta Negra (formerly TInta Negra Mole) variety to be listed on labels. This wine originally belonged to Joao Eugenio Perreira, a grower in Camera dos Lobos. Beautiful bright gold copper. Irridescent. Complex aromas of smoke, wood, and leather. A sweet (doce) style of TN, with great balancing acidity. Very long with lemons and limes on the finish.

Barbeito 50 year old Bastardo
Not officially labeled at the time of tasting.  550 bottles will be produced. This wine will be named in honor of Ricardo Frietas’s grandfather. Barbeito has been experimenting a lot with Bastardo lately. From both Ricardo’s grandfather’s stocks and from the Favilla family stocks. Irridescent gold-green with a hint of rose. Spicy and floral with smells reminicent of roses. Medium sweet (Meio Doce). Very complex with beautiful balance.

Blandy’s 50 year old Malmsey
Bottled 2016.
400 liters produced. A blend of multiple vintages: 1952, 1964, 1974, 1975, 1978. Bronze, red, gold in color. Beefy and citric aromas. Perfect balance for me. Great concentration and richness. Smoky with tangerines on the palate. Very long.

32 Vintages of D’Oliveiras

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1875 D’Oliveira’s Malvasia
Old JNV (Junta Nacional) seal, in bottle before 1979 (Seen in far right).

I was fortunate to attend a large tasting at D’Oliveiras with over 32 Vintage and age indicated wines. This wine showed a dark bronze color with a green-gold rim. Huge aromatics with smoke, musk, soy, limes, lemons, pralines, and dried fruits. Dense and rich in the mouth. Quite sweet but not overly so. Great balancing acidity. Accompanied with a long citric, meaty finish.



1850 D’Oliveira’s Verdelho. Bottled 2016.

D’Oliveras’s keeps their wine in cask until bottled to order. Thus, this wine was in cask for almost 166 years! Luis D’Oliverira is shown presenting his wine to the right. Very dark bronze color with a copper green rim. Hugely concentrated, as can be expected for a wine in cask so long. Smoky, spicy, citric with toasted nuts and a hint of VA. Sweet due to the extreme concentration but with huge, huge balancing acidity also concentrated. Flavors of limes, tangerines, brown sugar. Very, very long.

The Marquis de Pombal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The grounds and cellar of the Marquis de Pombal estate

Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, the 1st Marquis of Pombal and 1st Count of Oeiras, was one of the most important figures in Portuguese history. He was the Prime Minister in the mid-16th century. His statue is in Lisbon in Pombal Square. He rebuilt Lisbon after the disastrous 1755 earthquake and repulsed Spanish invasion. He also reformed the government along enlightenment lines and demarcated the Douro wine region, the first demarcation in the wine world. His estate is near the town of Oeiras, just outside of Lisbon and the vineyards he planted formed the basis of Carcavelos. Carcavelos was once a very famous Portuguese fortified wine, rivaling Madeira. However, because it is close to Lisbon, it has been swallowed up by urban sprawl. At one time it was virtually extinct, however a few years ago, some viticulturists brought it back. It’s stronghold is it’s original one, the Pombal estate. It’s now owned by the local government. There’s a couple of smaller outside vineyards, but they are threatened. There is a total of 25 hectares of Carcavelos, 12.5 belong to the Pombal estate. A 5 hectare vineyard is just outside the estate, but it’s for sale at a price which would preclude viticulture. The grape varieties are mainly white with a few red. Arinto, Boal, Galego Dourado, Negra Mole, Trincadeira and Torneiro. Villa Oeiras is the company producing wine from the old Pombal estate. They use the old estate cellars. They also have a facility in the old Pombal stables where the wines are fermented. I had a fascinating visit earlier this year. The wines are fortified with a 77% aguardiente which is locally produced. One huge difference from other fortified wines is the use of new 225 liter oak barrels. They are doing many experiments with different barrels from different sources and woods, French and even a Portuguese sourced oak. Different toast levels as well. I had a chance to taste the same wine brought up in different oak barrels and the difference was marked. The new oak gives a tropical fruit and coconut quality to the wines which is not unattractive. Highly unusual and distinctive wines.

2004 Villa Oeiras Carcavelos
11 years in oak. 17.5 % alcohol by volume.
Burnished bronze, gold, green color. On the nose, nuts, oak, tropical fruits, honey, and coconut. Velvety mouthfeel. Sweet, tropical fruit flavors. Good acid balance with a long, saline finish.

Villa Oeiras 20 year old Carcavelos
Average age of 20 years.
Bronze gold green in appearance. Looks similar to an old Verdelho Madeira. Oaky, coconuts on nose. On the palate, sweet with almond skins and dried citrus fruits. More coconuts and tropical fruit. Nice acidity and great balance. Very long.

A trio of old Colheita Port

Quinta do Noval 1968 Colheita Port.
Bottled 2016.
Sitting and relaxing on the waterfront in Vila Nova de Gaia. Wanting something good to imbibe, got a half bottle of this from the Noval shop. I’ve had this before, but bottled several years earlier. Now, it’s become even more superb. Full tawny, gold, green. On the nose, nutty, spicy with caramel, limes, and tangerines. On the palate, enormous complexity with flavors of limes, oranges, cinnamon, apricots. Very rich and long.

Quinta do Noval 1937 Colheita Port
Bottled 2008.
At a large multiday tasting of Ports in Seattle. Bright cola colored with hint of green at rim. Complex nose with smoke, dried fruits, nut skins, and pralines. Full and rich on the palate. Intense with great balance. Very long and sweet. Very complete wine.

1957 Kopke Colheita Port
Bottled 2015
Also in Seattle. Dark tawny colored. Musk and brown sugar aromas. Lots of concentration on the palate. Not real sweet. Dried fruits and citrus. Nutty. Great complexity of flavors. Lots of depth and very, very long. Better than the Kopke 1937 and that’s saying something.

A tasting of 1997 Vintage Porrts

I was fortunate to attend a large tasting of 1997 Vintage Ports to celebate their 20 year anniversary. 30 different Vintages served blind.

1997 Croft Quinta da Roeda
Very, very dark. Really young looking. Purple all the way to the rim. Sweet and plummy. Still primary. Aromas of bing cherries. Rich and velvety mouthfeel. Lots of tannins still. Lots of primary fruit. Really long. Needs lots of time to peak.

1997 Fonseca
Dark, just beginning to lighten at the rim. Still rich and primary aromas. On the palate, tannic with lots of grip. Very primary plummy fruit. Almost painfully young.

1997 Calem
Very dark purple all the way to the rim. Very spicy and primary aromas. In the mouth, rich and very primary. Very tannic but everything in balance. Lots of depth and length.

1997 Ramos Pinto
Dense impenetrable dark purple. “Black as Egypt’s night” was the old term. Nose somewhat reticent but plums and spices. On the palate, tight and tannic. Black fruits. Great depth and concentration.

A retrospective of 1977 Vintage Port

I also had the good fortune to attend a 40 year retrospective of the famous 1977 Vintage Ports. 13 wines tasted blind. At this age, lots of variability.

1977 Sandeman
Deep red color. Going rose-tawny at rim. Spicy aromas with strawberries and violets. Just starting to turn secondary. Velvety mouthfeel. Sweet but with great balance and vibrant acidity. Great intensity. Quite long.

1977 Gould Campbell
This has long been considered an overachiever for the vintage by Port aficionados. Still impenetrable dark purple color. Very floral nose with citric fruits and violets. On the palate, sweet with lovely, juicy plummy fruit. Not real intense but beautiful balance. Not the most complex, but very satisfying.

1977 Taylors
This was the best wine of the tasting. There’s a lot of bottle variation, but this one was spot on. Just starting to go tawny colored at the rim. Spicy cherries and citrus on the nose. Rich, velvety mouthfeel. Great intensity. Sweet and plummy. Very long and satisfying. Vibrant and youthful.

  1. Bob Stern
    December 26, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Makes me feel good…I offered the S-L Bastardo

    Composed and sent without proof reading from my iPhone

    >

    • December 27, 2017 at 9:42 am

      It is also my favorite of the 19th century wines that day. It really came together with air.

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