Community Tasting Notes (1) Avg Score: 98 points

  • TN: Henriques & Henriques Special Reserve Madeira Grand Old Boal Vintage 1860, first bottled 1927 and re-bottled 1955. $180/1 pt and 9 floz at Arrow Wine Co; Centerville, Ohio, August, 2007. From a bottling for The Hammer Co; Cleveland, OH. Bottle number 340 out of 353 bottles (actual numbers reversed in error on bottle). There was at least one other bottling of this vintage of about 1500 bottles for an Australian importer as well, according to auction records.

    Contains approx. 1 1/4" regular straight-sided (not T-shaped) cork, which came out in two clean pieces. Double-decanted, since it was due to be served in an hour or so. Very little sediment.

    Poured at a dinner with Barbara and myself for Ed O’Keefe and Sean O’Keefe of Chateau Grand Traverse, and Brian Ulbrich of Left Foot Charley’s, at Stella’s Restaurant, Traverse City, MI, both wineries of the Old Mission Peninsula, November 19,2007.

    Tawny, transparent yellow-green.

    Powerful, salty, tangy lime, and lacquery, with roasted walnuts and a hint of beluga caviar, vanilla, woodsmoke, sweaty saddle and baked cherry pastry.

    Very firm acidity and balancing sweetness; woody with just a hint of earthiness and sweatiness on the intense, almost endless finish.

    Still quite stable to flavor and scent five days after opening; same is true at 10 days. 98/100.

    This is an exquisite but very sparse vintage, about 97 percent of the usual harvest having been destroyed by oidium (powdery mildew). This vintage and previous ones were marked by starvation among the vineyard workers, and, although the remedy for the fungus was already discovered (Bordeaux copper sulfate mixture), this was just in time for the attack of the phylloxera. The vineyards have truly never quite recovered. This extremely rare and perhaps even unique 147-year old pre-phylloxera bottle shows the 21st century what a tragedy all this was. A wonderful but humbling and sorrowful experience. (Notes from Alex Liddell's book Madiera; Faber Books on Wine, 1998). By the way, a search of Cellar Tracker shows that there is at least one bottle of this stuff out there in someone's cellar, or at least there WAS one.

    Photos can be viewed at and

    In June, 2015 I gave a sip out of this bottle to Gene Rolf and myself. Even with only a half-ounce or so left it was in great condition and quite recognizable for what it was.

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