Tinta Negra Mole (aka Tinta de Madiera and Negra Mole all meaning “black soft/suave”) is a versatile red grape variety used in the production of Madeira wine. it was created over 200 years ago as a crossing of Pinot Noir and Grenache. Plantings are found mainly around Funchal, Câmara de Lobos in the south and São Vicente in the north.
The grape dominates the island’s plantings (60% of the vineyards). The variety’s emergence to the spotlight came in the wake of the phylloxera epidemic of the 1860s, when it was used to replant the other traditional Madeira grapes (Sercial, Bual and Terrantez) that were ravaged by phylloxera. Its prolific yields, often at the cost of of fruit quality, served well the local wine industry at the times of high demand.
In the 1980s it was recognised as a 'Noble' Madeira grape variety, but it is commonly used as a component of the Madeira blends, where typically 15% or less is Tinta Negra Mole, with the remainder being Bual, Sercial, Malvasia or Verdelho . If the label does not state one of the 4 aforementioned grapes, then it is most certainly a Tinta Negra Mole Madeira. It comes in all different styles, dry, medium dry, medium rich and rich. and as a 3 year old, 5 year old or 10 year old bottling. Since 1993 Madeira wines have been required by law to contain at least 85 percent of the grape variety stated on the bottle. Prior to this date, wines labelled as Madeira Sercial or Madeira Bual may, in fact, have been based largely on Tinta Negra Mole.