Madeira wine, or just Madeira, is also known as Vinho Generoso madeirense or Torna-Viagem and is produced on the island for more than 500 years.
Departing ships loaded with wine that was considered of lower quality, enabled them to discover the power and consequences of longer fermentation. The wine was stored in the cellars of sailboats for more than a year and the heat in the tropical region along with the long journey across sea proved to transform ordinary wine into excellent nectar.
When fermentation went on to developing, we see the forming of 2 types of techniques that are the originates from the 2 kinds of wine that were used. The canteiro wine, fermented in barrels stored in the highest part of the storages in the early years, and moved further down as it ages (you can drink from the 4th year) Stoving wine, it is heated to 55 ° C for 3 months and can be consumed from the 3rd year. In the Azores, during the XIX century, stove wine was a strong-tasting drink similar to Jerez in taste and color.
Madeira is a fortified, enriched wine and with an alcoholic strength between 17º and 22º. It remains in oak barrels through a slow oxidation process to concentrate the wine. This type of wine is divided into Blend, wines of varying age, with an average of 10 years of the same strain, and Colheita (Added), wines from the same vintage and a single strain. They can be taken from 4 years, Vintage, aging at least 20 years and then must go through a test that determines the authorization to be bottled or not. These are wines of long age, high acidity, and freshness. You can find Vintage 1975 in perfect condition.
However, the fame of the island wines did not spread the same way from all the islands.
Wines from Azores – Past Vino (strain Malvasia) and dry wine – produced on the island of Pico, undergoing a process similar to that of Madeira, where fermentation was interrupted by adding brandy, as with the Port wine production of the wines of the Azores, it is not considered to be of lower quality than Madeira.
Probably not too many data exist on the subject, for a long time it was believed that the wine practice was limited to the islands of Pico and Graciosa but, in reality, all were devoted to the cultivation of vineyards. Although they were islands struggled with difficult weather and very stony conditions as a result of volcanic eruptions in the Azores, it still has produced very strong vines.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the islands suffered from an aggressive outbreak of powdery mildew, forcing the replacement of strains, such as Verdelho (Verdejo white), and instead, some American vines were planted (especially the Isabela strain, which today banned in Europe because of its high content of methanol).
The elaboration of spirits was considerably increased and multiplied in flavors from the molasses brandy on St. George Island, the dark spirit of Terceira Island and red, peach loquat and fig, from Pico Island.
The recovery of white wine was gradually achieved, and one of the examples of the history of wine in Azores is the Cooperative Winery of Graciosa Island.
In Madeira, the rum – Madeiran rum – white and aged, has won a central role. To learn more, one can visit the Engenho do Porto da Cruz, which is a museum center, near Casa del Ron, where you can take some exceptional reserves.
Among the strains traditionally used in the islands we can find:
Malvasia – One of the first stocks that reached the islands of Azores and Madeira during the first half of the fifteenth century. With this strain produces a sweet wine, with aroma similar to nuts and honey flavor notes. A perfect match with cheeses and chocolate.
Verdelho – a semi-dry wine, flavored ripe pineapple and tropical flavor is developed. Good pairing with soft cheeses and wines. This strain is common in the two archipelagos.
Cercial – With this strain one produces a dry wine, with citrus aromas and caramel. It is indicated as an aperitif or combined with nuts or olives. This strain is used in the two archipelagos.
Boal / Bual – The result is a semi-sweet wine with the aroma of honey and caramel flavor. It is indicated to combine with fruits, cheeses and desserts. Azores strain of high quality and used in the two archipelagos.
Black Ink – Some say that this strain is the result of crossing Pinot noir with Grenache (Garnacha). In Spain it is known as Negramoll and occurs mainly on the Canary Islands. Combine with vegetables, rice and white meat.
Blandy’s Duke Of Clarence Rich: a fortified wine from the region of Madeira and shows an alcoholic content of 19%. Uvinum users reviewed this fortified wine with 3,7 of 5 points.
Blandys 5 Years Sercial Dry Madeira is a fortified wine made by Blandy from the region of Madeira and has an alcoholic content of 19%.