It is mid-October and I am spending a week in Madeira doing what I do best – eating, drinking and watching the world go by. The drink here is madeira and my first taste of madeira in Madeira was at H.M. Borges in Funchal
Madeira is an odd wine and there is nothing like it anywhere in the rest of the wine world. What is unique about madeira is the way it is made. Fermentation is stopped by adding alcohol and the fortified wine is heated to 45 – 55 degrees centigrade over a period of three months or more. They call it Etufagem or ‘ageing through heat’ and it gives madeira its unique character, complexity and longevity. The four ‘noble’ white grapes of Madeira – Sercial (Esgana Cão), Verdelho (Gouveio), Boal (Bual, Malvasia Fina), Malmsey (Malvasia Candida) and the red varietal Tinta Negra are commonly used to produce Madeira wines. Local wine law requires that iIf one of the varietals is indicated on the label, the wine must contain a minimum 85% of that grape.
Wine has been produced in Madeira since the 15th century. H.M. Borges have been at it since 1877.
We toured the cellars with owner Maria Helena Borges and tasted six wines in the upstairs tasting room.
- 5 Year Old Madeira (Dry): Tinta Negra with a residual sugar content of 19 g/l fortified to 18.5% alcohol was served chilled. Pale brown in colour, it is sweet, fresh and has a nutty finish. (‘Dry’ Madeira can contain a residual sugar level of up to 49 g/l)
- 5 YO Madeira (Medium Dry): Dark brown with caramel and sweeter. (Medium Dry Madeira can have a residual sugar level between 50 and 85 g/l)
- 10 YO Sercial (Dry): Pale with a nutty finish and lovely mouthfeel
- 20 YO Verdelho (Medium Dry)
- 30 YO Malvasia: Dark and sweet. It was served with traditional Madeira honey cake which is always broken and never cut
- 1979 Sercial: Perfect aperitif!
- Spotlight On Madeira – By Jamie Goode
My visit was arranged by:
Rita Galvão CEO / Diretora Executiva +351 912304517 www.discoveringmadeira.com www.winetoursmadeira.com