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Briefe an Konrad: Die letzten Flaschen Wein "Madeira Terrantez" anno 1795


Versteigerung am 22.12.2010

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There are at least six, probably seven known Terrantez wines from 1795.
  • 1795 Terrantez of Barbeito
  • 1795 Terrantez of Companhia Vinicola da Madeira
  • Terrantez of F. F. Ferraz (probably the same wine like the “Messias” wine in Alex Liddell’s book “Madeira”)
  • 1795 Terrantez probably from D’Oliveiras
  • 1795 Terrantez by Blandys, probably the same wine like the 1795 Terrantez by Lomelino
  • 1795 Terrantez by Abudarham
  • 1795 Terrantez from a company called South Side Madeira Association.
I find it fascinating, that there are so many wines from the same year, more then 200 years old and with the same grape variety, but from different companies, that have no business connections with each other.
For a long time I wondered if these wines are from the same source.
Even if they were, they are different for sure, because of the different period of time spent in cask and bottle. (As you can see in the chapter about types of wine under “vintages”, the time spent in cask is very important when it comes to concentration and taste of a vintage.)

When I asked Alex Liddell, author of “Madeira”, published by Faber & Faber and being the number one publication on the subject of Madeira wine, about the “same source theory” he gave a very quick and tremendously helpful answer. He pointed out that even after 200 years it would not be unlikely for a few different wines from the same year of vintage to have survived. In fact he quoted the late Richard Blandy stating “that the range of what had been produced on the island in the past was no less, and perhaps much greater, then what is produced today”. So, what I once thought to be a mystery seems to be solved. However for those of you who own one or more of the 1795 Terrantez vintages I would like to share the information gathered on these wines.
I am greatly indebted for Mr. Liddell for the wealth of information he supplied, not only through his excellent book but also especially on the subject of the 1795 Terrantez vintages

The history and development of Madeira wines over the last 500 years are inextricably linked with England. Numerous references to Madeira and Malmsey specifically are to be found in the manuscripts of William Shakespeare dating from the latter part of the 16th century and Customs House records indicate that export of wines from the island were already widespread into England, mainland Europe and even the New World by the 1550's and 1560's.
Viniculture was already a well established practice for maybe a century at this time, with the earliest records detailing wine production from before 1485.

When Charles II married the sister of King Alfonso VII of Portugal in 1662, the link to these islands was indeed strengthened and further export benefits granted to Madeira shippers over and above other European exporters, meant a virtual monopoly for trading with the Americas and the Caribbean.
By the mid 1700's, the first fledgling companies with UK connections were being founded by entrepreneurs newly arrived in Madeira - notably John Leacock who first came in 1741 and began trading under his own name in 1760 and Francis Newton from Scotland who, in 1745 started the firm that was to become Cossart Gordon & Co.

The Leacock family continued to run their business through successive generations, with John's two sons, John and William taking the reins in 1791. The next generation was headed by Thomas Slapp Leacock who took control in 1877, he the great-grandfather of William Leacock whose wines are offered below. Thomas's place in Madeiran history was further cemented when in 1873, he recognised the arrival of phylloxera in local vineyards and started a programme of vine treatment at the Leacock's St. John's property in Pico Sao Joao, that was to ensure the survival of the traditional grape varieties that we know today.


Boal grows at low altitudes on the south end of the island of Madeira. Madeiras made from this grape are rich, raisiny and retain their acidity quite well. The grapes are low-yielding and compact bunches of small, sweet grapes.


Verdelho, a once ubiquitous grape on the island of Madeira, was all but wiped out by phylloxera. Elevated to noble status at the beginning of the 20th Century, Verdelho is grown mainly on the north end of the island, where it is planted close to the ground as opposed to on trellises. Verdelho usually produces a medium-dry wine which develops hints of smokiness as it ages.


The same variety as the mainland's Esganocão, Sercial is known for its mouth-puckering acidity. It typically produces drier wines with almond overtones and stunning clarity.


Terrantez grapes were first recorded in Madeira in the early 18th-century. Another grape that nearly died out during the phylloxera epidemic, Terrantez grapes have fairly high sugar content. This sale offers the opportunity to purchase wines from a grape that is currently nearly extinct: the current Terrantez harvest does not produce enough juice to fill a single barrel. As the Portuguese saying goes, "As uvas de Terrantez, não as comas nem as dês, para vinho Deus as fez." The grapes of Terrantez are not for eating or giving away; God created them for wine.


Bastardo, known in France as Trousseau, it is also used in the Douro to make Port. Often used to make somewhat dry wines, it is no longer grown in any substantial quantity on Madeira.

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