The Region of Madeira includes the islands of Madeira and Porto
Santo both with different characteristics; the former forested and
temperate, the latter is hot, dry and bare. The soil is by nature, volcanic,and
the vineyards are in terraced steps named "poios" which extend down to the
Shakespeare's immortal characters in the play "Henry IV" - Falstaff - was
accused of exchanging his soul for a leg of chicken and a goblet of Madeira.
It is also said that, in 1478, an event occurred concerning George, Duke
of Clarence, brother of Edward IV, King of England. Condemned to death by High
Court, he was allowed to choose how he should die, and he chose to drown
himself in a large vessel of the Malvasia wine; Madeira was drunk to toast the
American Declaration of Independence, is the `desert island` choice of several
wine personalities. Recent increased sales reflect a renewed interest in the
unique wine style.
The discovery of Madeira wine happened when the unsold wine aboard in
vessels saling from Madeira to the West, was shipped back to
Funchal to be returned to its owners. It was then noticed that quality
improved, and as such it was sold as " Round Trip Wine" and it was worth its
weight in gold. This voyage of many days of warm weather gave in effect a
gentle ageing to the wine .
Madeira nowdays is fortified with Portugese grape brandy to 20% alcohol,
usually leaving some residual sugar in the wine. Shortly after fermentation is
complete the wine is heated to approximately 115 degrees and held for six
months. It is then alternately heated and cooled for six-month intervals while
slowly maturing in oak barrels. Barrels are generally large and old so as to
not impart any oak flavor or tannin and to promote gradual oxidation. Made from
red and white grapes, the wines are light to dark brown in color due to cask
There are four traditional styles corresponding to different grape
Sercial, medium dry Verdelho, medium sweet
Boal (or Bual) and sweet Malmsey (or Malvasia).
Madeira is a versatile dessert wines because its natural high acidity enables
it to stand up to all desserts without being overwhelmed. It is ideal for
occasional consumption because it is fully oxidized during winemaking and will
not deteriorate after opening.
Berrys' own label from the island's principal producer provides an
introduction to the main style. Under the Blandy and Cossart &
Gordon labels, the Madeira Wine
Company offers the opportunity to experience the intensity and depth
of flavours in wines.
Barbeitos, one of the most forward-thinking companies in the island, and
the renown experts Michael and Bartholomew
Broadbent, are represented with some superb examples of Madeiras with