Top table wine from Madeira: Primeira Paixão Verdelho 2009

Last year, I learned that two of Portugal’s best known winemakers, Rui Reguinga and Francisco Albuquerque (pictured), were collaborating on a new table wine project in Madeira.  At last, I’ve caught up with the wine, Primeira Paixão, in its second (2009) vintage.  I must say, it’s very impressive indeed – my tasting note below.

Multi-award winning winemaker Albuquerque is responsible for some of Madeira’s best known brands, including Blandys and Cossart Gordon and, when I met him in 2007, he was excited by the island’s potential for table wine.  Reguinga, on the other hand, is focused on table wines from the mainland and consults widely at home and abroad when he’s not making his own wines in the Alentejo (Terrenus and, in joint venture with wine writer Richard Mayson, Quinta do Centro – see here for my report of a visit).

Reguinga says Primeira Paixão “was a challenge I decide to put at in one of my visits to Madeira : ‘Francisco you want to make with me a table wine varietal Verdelho in Madeira island??'”  One month later, he landed in Madeira to make the wine, spurred on by Albuquerque’s reply – ” I know exactly where we have the best grapes!!”

 The grapes come from ” Casa da Vinha,” a 2 hectare terraced parcel of Verdelho in the south part of the island on volcanic soils, just 600m from the Atlantic.  The vines may be only 10 years old, but the wine shows plenty of structure and mineral depth.  It’s made at Adega Sao Vicente at which Reguinga now consults (since June 2010).  If Primeira Paixão is anything to go by, I look forward to seeing (tasting) what happens next!

Primeira Paixão Verdelho 2009 (VQPRD Madeirense) –  tangy, fruity and leesy with saline and mineral notes on nose and palate, this has terrific texture, concentration and drive; long, mouthwatering finish.  Terrific. 

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  1. Niklas Jorgensen

    Hi Sarah,

    I’m thrilled you liked it as well! I had the 2008 a couple of times at my latest visit on the island, in March. I also met with Francisco in Funchal and he told me about his project. It seems he started out with 2,000 bottles in ’08 with the potential to double it in ’09.

    He also told me about another more extreme project at the other end of the island, the eastern side (Canical). There he was cultivating Touriga Nacional and Merlot! If it all turns out fine it’s hopefully on the market in a couple of years.

    All the best,


    • sarah

      Hi Niklas, great to hear from you and thanks for the heads up on the Touriga Nacional/Merlot project. I reckon “extreme” is an apt description – will follow up next time I’m over!

  2. Niklas Jörgensen

    Sadly, I didn’t visit the site but I know he also involved Filipe (his assistant winemaker at MWC) in the TN/M project. It is interesting because not much vines of higher quality is cultivated on this side but the harbour village of Canical is located in a bay like area so he might just have found the perfect micro climate.

    By the way, if I may give you a recommendation? Henriques & Henriques have just launched a rarity which should be affordable for most us; a 20 YO Terrantez, in 50 cl bottles.

    All the best,


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