Artikkeleita kategoriasta: Matkat / Sekalaista jorinaa
Moselin lauantai kuvina
Tommi | 6.4.2014

Mosel-viikonlopun lauantai tarjoili puolensadan viinin lisäksi erinomaisen luennon automatisoidusta rypäleiden optisesta lajittelusta, kaksi tilavierailua, ikimuistoisen tastingin keskellä Weingut Carl Loewenin überjyrkkää ja 118-vuotiaiden Riesling-köynnösten peittämää Maximin Herrenberg -tarhaa sekä reipashenkisen tastingin ja dinnerin viiden Moseljünger-viinintekijän seurassa.

Väsyn hiipiessä puseroon pusken tällä kertaa eetteriin pitkän kuvasarjan ja luotan mielikuvituksen hoitavan loput. Sieben acht, gute Nacht!

(matka on suurelta osin Deutsche Weininstituten sponssaama)

 


Bischöfliche Weingüter
Tommi | 5.4.2014

Moselin-retken toinen päivä avautui asiallisesti 12 Bernkasteler Ring -viinin tastingillä. Tämä VDP:n kaltainen, mutta yksinomaan Mosel-Saar-Ruwerin alueeseen rajoittuva 32 laatutuottajan organisaatio reguloi, valvoo ja promoaa jäsentensä parhaita viinejä.

Perjantai ja Robinson?

Kepeän aamupäivän ja raskaan lounaan jälkeen suuntasimme Trierin kaupungissa toimivaan Bischöfliche Weingüter -viinitaloon, jonka piiitkän tynnyrivaraston päässä odotti 9 risukkaa talon eri tarhoilta. Yhtiökokonaisuuteen kuuluu kaksi muutakin tuottajaa ja omistajana häärää nykyaikana melko eksoottinen eläin eli katolinen kirkko. Keskiajalla tilan omistanut munkki meni nimittäin naimisiin ja myi vuosia myöhemmin tilan kirkolle jahvea hyvitelläkseen ja syntisen tekonsa vuoksi hävittyä taivaspaikkaansa havitellakseen.

Wanhat Fuder-tynnyrit palveluksessa

 

Tuoreempaa pystysyytä

Talo eroaa Moselin modernin laidan tuottajista etenkin tammen käytössä, sillä pitkä kellarikerros oli täynnä perinteisiä 1000 litran vetoisia, saksalaisesta tammesta värkättyjä Fuder-tynnyreitä. Osa näistä on jo 70 vuotta vanhoja ja niitä uusitaankin pikku hiljaa niukan saatavuuden (ja kassavirran – uusi tynnyri kustantaa 2 500 – 3 000 euroa kipale) asettamissa rajoissa. Tammen hyödyntämisessä ei kuitenkaan ole kyse varsinaisesti viinin maustamisesta, sillä pitkän käyttöiän lisäksi vain tynnyrien kansi ja pohja on paahdettu kevyesti. Esittelyä vetäneen enologi/viestintä- ja markkinointivastaava Anna Reimannin mukaan tynnyri tarjoaa täysin hapettomaan terästankkivalmistukseen verrattuna mahdollisuuden korostaa rypäleen ja terroirin aromeja – samoin kuin talon myös suosimat villihiivat. Erikoisuuksiin kuuluu myös 25 000 nimen vahvuinen postituslista, jolle myydään merkittävä osa tuotannosta. Listalla on jostain syystä paljon professoreita ja tohtoreita (tosin Saksassahan näitä riittää muutenkin yli tarpeen).

Iltapäivän happomenu

Schiefer Riesling Qualitätswein trocken 2012

Terästankkitavaraa. Erittäin vaalea keltainen, ”talon Riesling” päivittäiseen kulutukseen (kyllä, se on mahdollista). Rypäleet Saarin alueelta, perinteinen liuskekivimaaperä. Poikkeuksellisesti täysin rutikuivan oloinen, erittäin tuhti sitruksinen hapokkuus, suoraviivainen. Vakuuttava aloitus.

Ruwer Riesling Qualitätswein trocken 2012

Myös pääosin terästankin lapsi, vaikkakin pikku osa kävi tammessa. Ns. ”jokiviini”, Bischöfliche kun omistaa tarhoja sekä Moselin, Saarin että Ruwerin rannoilla ja näistä kaikista on portfoliossa oma vinettonsa. Sinistä liuskekiveä, jyrkät tarhat, jokikolmosten viilein ilmasto. Hedelmäisempi tuoksu, mutta suussa teräksisen kuiva, superhapokas, jää ikeniin minuutiksi, bony ass stuff.

Kanzemer Altenberg Riesling Spätlese trocken 2012

Tynnyrissä käynyt ja kypsynyt. Talon jyrkin ja myös suhteessa hyvin lämmin tarha Saarissa. Hyvin kevyttä tammea nenässä. Edellisiä voimakkaampi, mutta hapokkuus paremmassa tasapainossa muun kokonaisuuden kanssa.

Fritz Willi Riesling Qualitätswein feinherb 2012

Jyrkältä Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium -tarhalta, jonka nimi muokattu etikettiin houkuttamaan nuorempaa kuluttajaryhmää. Tuoksussa nallekarkkia sitruksen seassa. Puolikuivan puolella, mutta lopussa taittaa takaisin kuivaan.

Kaseler Nies’chen Riesling Spätlese feinherb 2012

Spätlese ei anna tuoksussa juuri lisäarvoa. Puolikuiva sokeripitoisuuden 20 g/l teknisellä luokituksella. Erittäin hapokas, mutta lopulta vähän tylsä ja simppeli, vaikka mukavia fenoleja pyöriikin pitkään poskien takaosissa. Spätlese-luokitus tuntuu jälkimaussa monipuolisuutena ja kypsyytenä, Rieslingin perusaromit aiempia paremmin esillä.

Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2012

Hyvin omaperäinen tuoksu aiempiin verrattuina: kevyttä hiivaisuutta jäljellä ja joukon tarkkanenäisimpien mukaan jopa pientä reduktiivisuutta. Klassinen kabinett: puolikuiva, herkullinen, tyypillinen… mutta auttamatta liian nuori. Edellisten happopommien jälkeen kaipaisi jopa lisää hapokkuutta.

Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese 2012

Hieman lämpimämmällä Mittelmoselin alueella sijaitseva, harmaata liuskekiveä sisältävä jyrkkä tarha. Kypsää hedelmäisyyttä ja erinomainen tasapaino.

Kanzemer Altenberg Riesling Auslese 2010

Erinomainen suoritus. Sokeri 100, hapot 10. Kypsää hedelmää, korkeat hapot ja kevyttä jalohometta, joka varmastikin tulee vahvistumaan lisävuosien myötä. Ruokasuosituksina mainittiin mm. hapokkaat juustot, omenamurunen ja aprikoosia sisältävät herkut. Pääviesti: ruoassa pitää olla hapokkuutta. Ostin pullon.

Falkensteiner Hofberg Riesling Eiswein 2002

Upea, syvähkö kullankeltainen väri. Halolla päähän: trooppista hedelmää, kevyttä jalohometta, supermakea, mieletön konsentraatio, happoja löytyy. Ostin tätäkin mukaan.

Ostos #1

 

Ostos #2

(matka on suurelta osin Deutsche Weininstituten sponssaama)

 


Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler
Tommi | 4.4.2014

Bernkastel-Kausin postikorttikylässä sijaitseva Pauly-Bergweilerin vinjettotalo on Moselin viinien merkittävä viejä ja jokiristeilyturistien suosikkikohde. Omistaja-vetäjä Stefan Paulyn tarjoama 12 Rieslingin maistatus tarjosi kiintoisia vertailukohtia eri tarhojen, makeusasteiden ja vuosikertojen välillä.

Picture perfect Bernkastel-Kues

700 000 pulloa vuodessa tuottavan talon päämarkkina on kohtalaisen yllättävä: Texas. Opimme, että siinä missä vientimarkkina suosii enemmän hedelmäistä ja puolikuivaa tai -makeaa risukkatyyliä, on kotimarkkina lähes täysin kuivien tulkintojen – tosin myös erikseen mainittuina Norja ja Suomi vetävät kuulemma myös pääosin kuivaa. Pelkkä keittiö ei selitä maiden eroja tässä suhteessa, sillä myös Thaimaassa kuiva tyyli on suositumpi vaikka voisi olettaa, että nimenomaan siellä hedelmäisempi ja makeahko tyyli toimisi paremmin paikallisen mätön kyljessä.

House of Herr Doktor

Täysin rutikuivaksi käytettyjä viinejä ei löydy juuri lainkaan vaan kaikkiin jätetään vähintään 6-7 litragramman sokeri pyöristämään happojen terävimpiä reunoja. Mielenkiintoinen yksityiskohta on sekin, että samaan kypsyys- tai makeuskategoriaan kuuluvat viinit ovat nykyisin selvästi makeampia kuin 25 vuotta sitten. Esimerkiksi tyypillinen spätlese-viini pyöri ennen 60-70 gramman hujakoilla, mutta nyt ollaan jo yli 100 grammassa.

Vuosikertojen erot ovat kohtalaisen suuria ja esimerkiksi vuodet 2013 ja 2014 vaikuttavat toistensa täydellisiltä vastakohdilta – 2013 on viileänä ja sateisena todella hapokas, kun taas 2014 on köynnösten kehityksen osalta tällä hetkellä peräti neljä viikkoa edellä viime vuotta.

Jyrkkä meininki Alte Badstube am Doktorbergin huipputarhalla

Omiksi suosikeikseni maistettujen viinien joukosta nousivat talon etelään suunnatulta lippulaivatarhalta tuotetut Bernkasteler alte Badstube am Doktorberg Riesling Spätlese Trocken 2011 sekä suuremmalta huipputarhalta niitetty nuori Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2013. 50 grammaa sokeria litrassa sisältänyt herkku oli tunnelmaltaan puhdas ja kirkas sekä toki aivan liian nuori, mutta kyllä tämä tulee olemaan 10 vuoden päästä todella upea.

Hyvän vuosikerran 1976 Braunberger Juffer Riesling Auslesen huikean hieno kullankeltainen väri sekä aprikoosihilloinen ja jalohomeinen tuoksu nostivat odotukset turhankin korkealle – puolikuivan puolelle taittaneessa maussa botrytis dominoi turhan selvästi ja kokonaisuus jäi siten ohueksi. Illallisen yhteydessä nautittu, erään toisen tuottajan -75 olikin sitten huomattavasti mielenkiintoisempi.

Sieben acht, gute Nacht.

(matka on suurelta osin Deutsche Weininstituten sponssaama)


Mosel, ich komme!
Tommi | 3.4.2014

Deutsches Weininstituten järjestämä Moselin valloitus alkaa tunnin päästä täältä Frankfurtin lentokentän ykkösterminaalista. Sitä odotellessa on hyvä satsata sinivalkoisten siipien jäljiltä tyhjyyttään murisevan eturepun lepyttelyyn.

Breakfast of champions

29 osallistujan joukosta löytyy 12 eri kansallisuutta ja suuria viinimaita edustavat Suomen lisäksi mm. muut Pohjoismaat ja Benelux ilman Luxia. Suurin osanotto on kuitenkin Pohjois-Ameriikasta.

Päivän ohjelmaan kuuluu bussimatka komeaan Bernkastel-Kuesin kylään, tasting Weingut Pauly-Bergweilerilla ja lopulta dinner Ylä-Moselin suurimmassa kaupungissa Trierissä, jossa sijaitsee myös reissun tukikohta.

Riesling heaven, here we come.


Ressitön viikonloppu Seinäjoella pe-la
Tommi | 22.11.2013

Voihan vinetto iskee koko organisaation voimin Seinäjoen yhdistetyille Herkku-, Viini & Olut- ja Kirjamessuille huomenna lauantaina.

Seuraa viiniaiheista keskustelua lauantaina twitterissä hashtagilla #ressitön – luvassa provosointia ja iltaa kohti nousevaa hehkutusta. Ressitön viikonloppu alkaa kuitenkin jo tänään perjantaina, joten haastan koko Pohjanmaan paikalle Seinäjoen Areenaan tarkastamaan tilanteen! Kotiin jääville vässyköille suosittelen hyvän vineton ja Twitterin avaamista lauantaina klo 14.

Kyllä näillä ressi lähtee. Kuva: Etelä-Pohjanmaan Pytinki Oy

 


Interview with Chris Blandy, part 2
Tommi | 8.6.2013

In the first part of the interview, we interviewed Chris about his background and current job as CEO of Blandy’s. In this second part we focus more on the wines themselves (FINALLY!) as well as discuss the future direction of Madeira. Finally, my brief notes on a small selection of Blandy’s range of wines are included in the end.

Before we let Chris loose, it’s probably worth summarising what Madeira wine is and how it is made. I won’t go into a lot of detail here as a myriad of useful information by people far more qualified than myself can be easily found all over the web (e.g. see here or here).

Not your average vineyard location

Grape varieties

While by law a plethora of grape varieties are allowed for the production of Madeira wine, only a handful are used in meaningful quantities. The following six varieties form the basis of more or less all commercially sold Madeira wine.

Tinta Negra Mole: A high-yielding red variety used for all levels of sweetness and accounting for 80-90 per cent of all production. Originally a crossing of Pinot Noir and Grenache.
Sercial: A highly acidic white variety producing the driest styles among the four ‘noble varieties’.
Verdelho: The second ‘noble white’ producing off-dry and slightly more full-bodied and less acidic wines than Sercial.
Bual/Boal: Another noble white variety, producing interesting semi-sweet and medium-bodied wines.
Malvasia/Malmsey: The fourth noble white, producing the sweetest, smoothest and most full-bodied wines.
Terrantez: A rare but highly appreciated white variety, producing some of the best and most age-worthy Madeiras in both sweet and dry styles.

A traditional (and hot) warehouse for ageing vintage Madeira

Winemaking and ageing

What happens during winemaking and the subsequent ageing process is really what gives Madeira its completely unique aroma profile. As with all fortified wines, the fermentation process is stopped with the addition of neutral grape spirit at the desired level of sweetness (dry, medium dry, medium sweet or sweet). Following the fortification, the historical effect of the wines’ exposure to tropical heat during long sea voyages is duplicated through the estufagem ageing process whereby the deliberate heating and oxidation of the wines gives them their unique aroma and flavour profile. The heat can be applied either artificially (e.g. hot water circulating around stainless steel containers) or totally naturally (barrel-ageing in specially designed rooms exposed to direct sunlight), depending on the targeted level of quality and price.

The estufagem process can last from 90 days for the cheapest wines to up to 100 years for the most expensive and high-quality vintage Madeiras. The practice is also responsible for Madeira’s famous chemical stability: by the bottling date the wine will already be so fully oxidised and mature that leaving a bottle open will not do it much harm. On the same note, unopened bottles of Madeira are some of the longest-lasting wines in the world – as an example, vintage 1785 is one of the most expensive wines in the world and highly sought-after among the wealthiest wine collectors. Crazy stuff!

Oldies goldies… But who are the lucky ones that get to taste them???

And now, ladies and gentlemen – Chris Blandy, part two:

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What makes Madeira unique among the many wine styles out there?

Being a fortified wine and almost completely unique in the fact that we promote the heating of the wine, whilst being made on a small volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic, sets us apart in many aspects! Perhaps the most important aspect is that our wines are completely stabilised, due to the ageing process. This means that once a bottle is opened, the consumer can enjoy the wine over a long period. For example, I opened a bottle of vintage Terrantez 1976 at Christmas 2011, enjoyed half the bottle with my wife, replaced the cork, kept it standing upright in my cellar and a year later, at Christmas 2012, enjoyed the other half. The wine hadn’t changed in the slightest.

Many people probably consider Madeira solely a dessert wine. But this is far from the truth, isn’t it?

Whilst typically rich Madeira is drunk with dessert, we have been working hard with sommeliers and Michelin star chefs to pair Madeira with a whole range of different dishes. Some of the experiences that have worked well in the past and are seen on various menus around the world include, chilled 5 year old Sercial with toasted almonds, 5 year old Verdelho with tuna sashimi, 10 year old Bual with foie gras or Bresse Blue cheese, vintage Bual with fake shark fin soup, and 10 year old Malmsey with dark chocolate fondant, to name just a few.

What are the latest trends when it comes to Madeira? Do you do a lot of research into new styles or ways to express the island’s terroir – e.g. have you experimented with single vineyard bottlings or some wacky blends?

We produced our wackiest blend in 2002 with the 5 year old Alvada, a wine produced with a 50/50 blend of Bual and Malmsey. We sold it in a sleek 50 cl bottle with a shocking pink label – very anti Madeira at the time! The reaction has been very positive and the consumers thoroughly enjoy this new style of Madeira. In terms of single quinta bottlings, that project is very much underway, but still a few years down the line as we want to leave the wine more years in cask before being launched.

Each and every bottle of vintage Madeira is still labeled by hand

Madeira wine has for some time been more or less out of fashion – especially among younger generations – although among wine enthusiasts practically everyone will love a glass of mature, high-quality Madeira. Why is that and where do you think the future of Madeira lies? How can it be marketed more effectively to the new breed of wine consumers?

The opportunities for Madeira are plenty. The consumers nowadays are much more aware of what is in their glass and what is available out in the market, being it from the large corporate brands, or the small hand-produced products. We are very much focusing on consumer wine fairs and getting the wine in front of the consumers and taking them through the 4 main styles so that they get a clear idea of what Madeira is basically all about. We are fortunate in that more often than not, the majority of those who try our wines for the first time get immediately hooked on the product!

What is your single favourite Madeira you’ve ever tasted?

A difficult one as I’ve been fortunate enough to try many old great wines, some dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. One wine however that has constantly made me smile is our 1920 Bual. A wine that we were fortunate enough to have a large stock of and that we still have over 1,000 litres in oak continuing to age. This wine should be perfect for a 2020 bottling – 100 years in cask!

If our readers would like to learn more about Madeira and Blandy’s, what should they do – except of course drink a lot of the stuff? Are visits possible?

The island itself is a perfect destination for tourism. It has spectacular sea and mountain, constant warm weather throughout the year, a wide range of hotels and small country house properties and of course a varied and diverse food and wine scene. Visits to the vineyards and of course our 200 year old wine lodge in the centre of Funchal is a must. We can almost guarantee that however you visit the island, you’ll go away with a strong need to return.

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Well, then. After Chris’s interesting thoughts it’s about time to review some wines! A selection of six wines was on display together with delicious Finnish dishes at the excellent Helsinki-based Restaurant Nokka.

An intriguing menu by Restaurant Nokka (Photo: Voihan vinetto!)

5 Year Old Alvada

Served with goose liver pumped up with some salty nuts and black pudding, this interesting 50-50 mix of Bual and Malmsey has as much as 120 grams per litre of residual sugar. On the nose one gets a delicious mixture of coffee, raisins, lime and nuts as well as a whiff of oak (exceptionally to Madeiras, this one has spent some time in oak for the purpose of extracting some of those oaky aromas). On the palate it’s very sweet indeed but the high acidity gives it a nice, balanced feel. The food-wine combination was among the best of the day. A welcome alternative, then, to all those Botrytis affected sweet whites usually recommended with fois gras.

Santa Lucia

The Santa Lucia is based on the widely planted (and less valued) Tinta Negra Mole grape and with RS of 130 g/l it is even sweeter than the Alvada. However, being less acidic and with a more straightforward aroma profile the Santa Lucia is less pronounced and also far less interesting. While the acidity was just sufficient to make the wine work with the consommé and nuts on offer, I felt the combination was too much dominated by the sweetness of the wine. (available in Alko)

10 Year Old Sercial

This dry Sercial made a nice effort together with the delicious duck and cep mushroom dish. You’d never guess the sugar content as even with 50 g/l of residual sugar, the intensive acidity makes the wine feel fresh and dry on the palate. Aromas of dried fruit, nuts and almonds linger long in the mouth.

5 Year Old Bual

On the nose this basic Bual provides a nice, oxidised cloud of nuts, dried plum, other dried fruit, and burned sugar. With residual sugar of 95 g/l the taste is quite sweet and the aroma profile is complemented with coffee and spice. The wine’s marriage with the chocolate and nougat based dessert was perfect. (available in Alko)

Terrantez 1976

For me, the Terrantez was the undisputed star of the day. Bottled in 1997, the 21 years spent in cask have really intensified the aromas and the result resembles a condensed Bual, with the trademark aromas of dried fruits, spices, burned sugar and a certain degree of woodiness. Intense and unforgettable! I have no doubt about the potential of this wonderful but almost extinct and extremely low-yielding variety, so let’s hope Madeira’s producers will raise their efforts towards rehabilitating it. There was only one downside: buying a bottle will set you back almost 200 euros. (90 g/l of sugar)

Sercial 1940

After maturing a staggering 46 years in cask, this bottling spent a further 26 years in bottle before making it to our table. Still completely fresh with an astounding level of acidity and an intensively oxidized, salty, and pistachio-like feel. An epitome of luxurious dry Madeira, available at around 250 euros per bottle.

Liquid heaven (Photo: Voihan vinetto!)

All in all, a solid display from Blandy’s and an eye-opening demonstration of the gastronomic possibilities of Madeira wine in general. After the experience, I have already added more Madeira to my cellar and look forward to enjoying them alongside a nice dinner.

Encore: Official fan photo of Chris – again

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Please share your experiences on our Facebook page and remember to follow us on Twitter!

(All photos: Blandy’s except where explicitely mentioned otherwise)

 


Interview with Chris Blandy, part 1
Tommi | 1.6.2013

Madeira is a beautiful island situated in the Atlantic Ocean some 400 kilometres north of the Canary Islands, and this autonomous region of Portugal is home to the similarly beautiful, unique and historically important Madeira wine. Used once to toast the declaration of indepence of the USA, the last century witnessed a slow but steady decline in the popularity of this unique fortified wine style. Falling out of favour of the global wine market was driven by several developments, including (but not limited to) the phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800′s, the subsequent and unfortunate replanting with lower quality vine species, and the temporary closing off of Madeira’s then biggest export markets (Russia, USA) in the first half of the 20th century.

Breathtaking scenery at the 2ha Quinta do Furão, one of the three vineyards recently acquired by Blandy’s in a push to secure availability of top quality grapes for the long run. And there’s a hotel on the site, too!

Chris Blandy, the new generation CEO of the major Madeira house Blandy’s, visited Finland earlier this year and together with their importer Winestate offered a chance to try an interesting selection of Blandy’s wines in Helsinki. The bottlings were tasted alongside Finnish delicacies specially prepared to match the wines by Restaurant Nokka’s skilled chef Ari Ruoho.

Chris is a dedicated ambassador of Madeira wine and a firm believer in the potential of the island as a producer of high-quality wine – and, judging by the overall level of the tasting, he seems to know what he’s talking about. The challenge, however, remains as many consumers still associate the Madeira name with the low-quality ‘cooking wine’ once so common in American and British kitchens. While the best examples (and especially those exquisite mature bottlings) of the island’s possibilities fetch considerable enthusiasm from wine connoisseurs around the world, re-penetrating the minds of the general public with high-quality products and a good value proposition is not a walk in the park. During the past couple of decades the first steps towards achieving this goal have already been taken and with the success enjoyed by Blandy’s in 2012, Chris is determined to see the process through. However, for Madeira to stand a chance for a true bounce back it seems clear that his enthusiasm really needs to be supported by a consistent marketing push from all the major Madeira houses. The quality of the wines is not an issue anymore – it’s now all about sales, marketing and a lot of legwork.

Chris Blandy took over as CEO of Blandy’s wine business in 2011 and is determined to lift Madeira back to its former glory

In this first part of the interview (conducted in May 2013) Chris talks about his background, education, business training and current duties at the helm of the 200-year-old family group of companies. The second part focuses on the wines and also includes my short notes of the ones tried and tested at the tasting in Helsinki.

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Hi Chris! Great to talk to you again. How’s life?

Life is good! Just back from a 10-day holiday to Rome (without kids) and Porto Santo (with kids), so feeling fresh and energised!

You visited Finland earlier this year, among the rest of the Nordic region. How was the experience and what did you take home from the visit?

Visiting Madeira markets for the first time is always an interesting experience and more often than not, a positive one. Finland was no different and what I found was a very passionate, albeit small, group of Madeira lovers. This is always very promising in our category as it is these ambassadors who can help spread the word on the Madeira wines.

How was the ferry to Stockholm? You may have been saved by the fact it was a Tuesday…

After all the hype, much quieter than I had expected! Quite relieved though as I had a master class with 25 of the staff at 23:30 at night onboard. It was a great experience to wake up the next day and be invited up to the bridge to view the navigation through the archipelago.

We’re about the same age and it’s amazing to think you’ve now been running such a big and traditional company as Blandy’s as CEO for two years already. What’s your biggest achievement to date and what are your main goals for the next five years?

Yes, I took over as CEO of the Madeira Wine Company in September 2011, our bicentennial year, though I am also CEO of 2 other of our businesses since 2010 (Travel and Shipping Agencies).

Taking control of a 200-year-old organisation in the middle of a global crisis is always going to be a serious challenge. Not only do you have to deal with the weight of expectation from other family members and colleagues, but you also have to find the right path to be able guide to business through to calmer times. Fortunately with the help of my cousin Michael, President of the family and a very good operating team, I get a lot of support.

2012 was a landmark year for us in that we managed to achieve a large amount of awards at the various global competitions, we produced some fantastic new wines and we managed to turnover more sales than in recent history.

My objective for the near future is to fully implement our vineyard project. Historically we have never owned our own vineyards, but due to increasing pressure on securing production, and our commitment to the future of the historical white varietals, we have embarked on various projects and we’re currently working on 3 separate Quintas around the island, with an objective to increase this in the short term.

And finally, my main goal is to increase the quantity of Madeira wine drinkers around the world!

Tell us a little bit about your background, education and early career. You told me earlier that you’re half Swedish but I’m sure our readers will forgive you for that…

That’s true I’m afraid. My mother is Swedish and I am very proud of my Nordic heritage, even though we didn’t get many chances to visit our relations there.

I was born in Madeira on 23 March 1979 and as many English children abroad, went to boarding school in the south of England. After school, I lived in New Zealand, working as a sports teacher for a year before heading back to England to study languages and history at Newcastle University. After Newcastle, I applied for a job with our Madeira wine partners at the time, the Symington Family of Oporto, where I worked with them for 3 years. I then decided to switch careers and got a job working at a well known hotel property in Washington DC, in the USA. Late 2006, my cousin gave me a call advising me that there was a job opening at the shipping agency, which I joined in 2007.

I know many traditional family companies in Finland like it if their younger generation works outside the family before really joining the company for the long haul – but in your case it was a strict requirement, wasn’t it? How important was that experience to you and what did you take away from it?

We have a written rule which states that family members are encouraged to join the Group provided there is an opening, they are suitably qualified and have had a minimum of 4 years work experience elsewhere. This allows us to ensure that we get family members who can bring in their own ideas and experiences to the table, rather than learner from scratch within the group.

It worked very well for me and the most important message that I’ve learned (and still learning!) is to always listen to the team around you, from the lowest paid to the highest paid individual.

As you mentioned, besides Madeira production the group also runs a big hotel business and a shipping agency. How do you divide your time between the different lines of business and how involved do you get with each of them?

I’m currently focusing the majority of my time on the wine company, as we feel that this needs the most attention. For the Travel and Shipping business, as well as my involvement in the hotels and general group matters, I manage to dedicate about 1 day per month for each area.

Quinta de Santa Luzia, another of Blandy’s recently acquired vineyards, is a promising site for the previously largely out-of-favour Terrantez grape

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The second part of the interview can be found here.

(All photos: Blandy’s)