A small town outside Houston, Texas is not where you would expect to find wine made using the same techniques as the windswept islands of Madeira. But that is exactly what is going on at Haak Vineyards and Winery in Santa Fe, Texas. In 2000, Raymond Haak, a retired engineer and wannabe winemaker, looked out at the humid landscape where Pierce’s disease was a perennial problem, and decided he would have to do something truly innovative if he wanted to make notable wine from land that God had specifically ordained as ‘unsuitable for vines.’
The result, in 2006, was the first bottling of a succession of sweet wines made through the estufagem process developed in Madeira, but from the Blanc du Bois and Jacquez (aka Lenoir) hybrid grapes that had already proven themselves resistant to Pierce’s disease. Accolades followed from experts such as Jancis Robinson and medals came in from across the United States and as far away as Austria (in 2013 the Austrian International Wine Competition in Vienna awarded him a gold and two silvers).
Finally, Haak has just released his pièce de résistance. A 10-year-old vintage Madeira aged in American oak and crafted from the Jacquez grape: 2005 Jacquez Madeira, Aged 10 Years. It has an intensity and complexity fit for state dinners with the President of Portugal and will be a welcome addition to many an American cellar.
The Ten Year Madeira is for sale, direct from the winery, for $76.