£20 (50cl), Waitrose, The Wine Society, independents*
Whenever I taste good Madeira, I think, 'why don't I drink this more often?' I've never yet had a satisfactory answer. Sercial, made from the eponymous grape variety, is the driest style, although that doesn't have to mean the bone-dry austerity that the term sometimes seems to imply.
Henriques & Henriques' amber-coloured ten-year-old (ten years meaning the average age of the wines in the blend) is off-dry/medium dry, but with the slightly smoky bonfire tanginess that comes from Madeira's unusual ageing process at warm temperatures. Before you get to that lingering, refreshing finish, you've run a delicious gamut of toasted almond, walnut, sultana, orange peel and sweet smoked paprika flavours.
If Sercial's first duty is as an aperitif, it's also well worth trying with food. Give it a go with umami foods such as mushroom and miso broth, smoked oysters, tuna with soy sauce, or cheeses such as Grana Padano Riserva, Parmigiano Reggiano or clothbound cheddar. And don't forget to try Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey Madeiras too: Henriques & Henriques examples are a good place to start. 20% abv.
Henriques & Henriques Sercial Madeira 10 Years Old, Madeira, Portugal