A happy coincidence improves the Madeira Wine
Surrounded by the blue Atlantic Ocean, the island of Madeira has long been an important shipping hub. Of course, maritime trade in the age of great discoveries could not take place without the fragrant Madeira Wine. In big wooden barrels, the sprinkled wine was stored in the belly of the Portuguese Naos. The two- and three-masted ships started their long trade voyages from Madeira with far away destinations. South Asia, South-East Asia, the Philippines and Indonesian archipelagos were very pleased with the dessert wine. In the New World, the charismatic wine was of course also in great demand.
Seafaring at the time of the great discoveries was arduous. Above all, however, the sea trade voyages extended over an extremely long period. Due to the continuous up and down of the waves, due to the constant warmth of the tropical climate, the Madeira Wine was a lucky coincidence. The sugar, which is abundant in the liqueur wine, caramelised and resulted in a more intense, rounder and better taste. The seafarers and early winemakers of Madeira Wine soon noticed this. For decades they held on to the knowledge gained to improve dessert wine and sailed around the world with it. Today, a similar approach is still followed. It is no longer necessary to store the aromatic Madeira Wine on ships and find the necessary warmth in southern climes. Today, the wine is evenly heated and vinified in huge barrels made of concrete or stainless steel for months.
The traditional grape harvest in Madeira
When the fruity grapes have completed the sun-blessed ripening process, the grape harvest begins. They are harvested from August onwards. The traditional harvest of Madeira Wine is rarely practised nowadays, but it is a real eye-catcher. The bulging grapes are cut from the vine and placed in voluminous grazing baskets, which in turn are shouldered by the harvesters and then transported on foot down the steep slope to the wine press. The sweet fruits are then crushed barefoot in huge barrels by several helpers. Although the rhythmic movement of the legs is laborious and exhausting, but the effort is worth it - the delicious grape juice is collected and later processed to Madeira wine. Meanwhile, the process is largely automated.
Grape varieties from the island of Madeira
The Madeira Wine Region has several grape varieties that give it its unmistakable flavour. Ultimately, the taste is classified as dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet. The following grape varieties are often used nowadays to make Madeira Wine.
● Verdelho (occasionally also called Verdelho Tinto)
The terroir of the Madeira Wine Region
The volcanic rock of the Madeira Island provides the grapes with excellent conditions for ripening. The steep slopes in the mountainous northern and southern parts of the island require terracing. Since the north is higher above sea level than the south, the northern areas of Madeira receive considerably more rainfall. A system of channels, the so-called levada, carries rain from the north and the centre of the island to the southern wine-growing areas. The levada are, on one hand, narrow channels that are, on the other hand, equipped with an attached hiking path that serves the tourism. Besides the volcanic rock, the soils consist of clay and loam. They carry many minerals that promote the pleasant acidity of Madeira wine. Intense sunlight provides the white and red grape varieties with rich warmth conditions.
The climate in Madeira
Madeira's climate is subtropical. The volcanic island has almost the same temperatures all year round (between 19 and 26ºC). In the late spring and main summer months there are an average of 10 hours of sunshine per day. The north is rainy, the south, especially near the capital Funchal, has little precipitation. This contrast can sometimes be seen on the island of Madeira in one day. In the winter months the rain increases. Nevertheless, the climate in Madeira offers many opportunities to spend some hearty sunny days and enjoy warm water temperatures.
Interesting facts about Madeira Wine
What is the optimal drinking temperature for Madeira Wine?
We recommend enjoying a sweet Madeira Wine at a drinking temperature of 15 to 18ºC. Dry Madeira Wine can be consumed much colder at 11 to 13ºC.
How is Madeira Wine stored by the winemaker?
Apart from the continuous heating of the high quality dessert wine, Madeira Wine is stored standing up. This is in stark contrast to the storage of other wines. For Madeira Wine, this method is ideal because it guarantees oxidation and gas exchange in the bulbous wooden barrel.
What is the alcohol content of Madeira Wine?
Generally, the alcohol content of a Madeira Wine is between 17 and 22%. It is therefore a fortified wine.
Buy Madeira Wines online at VINELLO
In the assortment of the online wine trade of VINELLO.de you will find a rich selection of wines from the Portuguese Madeira. Discover dry and sweet, dark and light delicacies with the DOC seal of approval from Madeira at VINELLO.de. Our service will be responsive to your needs: Convenient payment in our shop, fast and secure shipping almost worldwide.
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