Madeira wine

Madeira Island is known for its levadas, picos, but also for... its wine! Alcohol production is one of the island's specialities thanks to its ideal climate for certain grape varieties. More than 30 grape varieties are grown in the vineyards on the island. Well-known varieties include boal, malvasia and sercial. Madeira is a sweet white wine.

The main vineyards are located in the south of the Flower Island at Camara de Lobos. There are also important vineyards in the north at Santana and São Vicente. The vineyards enjoy an ideal Mediterranean climate and the volcanic soils are very fertile. In September, it is possible to attend the harvest.

The annual wine production is 3.22 million litres. The vinification of each wine is a different process: it depends on the blend, the partial or total fermentation, the maturation in barrels. It is worth noting that the ageing process of Madeira wine was discovered totally by chance, as the barrels transported by ship from Funchal in long expeditions, heated the wine, and made it so special and much better. Various fermentation techniques now exist. One of the traditional methods, the "canteiro" is still used today: the wine is stored for 20 to 100 years at natural heat!

La maison Blandy's, producteur de vin de MadèreBarrel - Madeira wine - Blandy's house
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The different wines of Madeira

The most common wine found here in France is commonly called Madeira. The alcohol content is between 17 and 22°. This liqueur is easily found in bottles in shops, even in France, and is used as an aperitif or in cooking to flavour certain dishes. Madeira is made up of different blends. There are 5 different appellations:

  • Boal de Madeira: This is a sweet wine aged in oak barrels for at least 5 years. This ageing is necessary to obtain the right balance between sugars and acidity. This Portuguese grape variety, also called bual, is considered one of the best varieties for making white port.
  • Sercial: a dry white wine
  • Malvasia: a very sweet white wine thanks to its high sugar content.
  • Verdelho: This is one of the most planted vineyards and its fruity aromas make it a delicious wine that can be drunk young or as a wine to keep.
  • terrantez: a semi-dry wine, one of the rarest of Madeira wines.

The Wine Festival

It takes place at the beginning of September and lasts for a fortnight at various locations on the island. In addition to the various harvesting activities, and even the crushing of grapes, many events are proposed, particularly in Funchal, accompanied by concerts or visits to dedicated galleries, and who knows, perhaps a visit to a cellar to discover the Canteiro technique and the opportunity to bring back a good bottle of wine from one's trip, after tasting!


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