A Week In Madeira – 1. Tasting At H.M. Borges

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.


Borges offices and cellar in Funchal



Storage tanks


Where wine is heated


Wine being aged in small barrels without heating. The process requires about three years where as heating ages the wine in three months



Tasting room


Tasting with Maria Borges


We toured the cellars with owner Maria Helena Borges and tasted six wines in the upstairs tasting room.

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 10 YO Sercial (Dry): Pale with a nutty finish and lovely mouthfeel
  4. 20 YO Verdelho (Medium Dry)
  5. 30 YO Malvasia: Dark and sweet. It was served with traditional Madeira honey cake which is always broken and never cut
  6. 1979 Sercial: Perfect aperitif!

Further reading


H.M.Borges, Sucrs. Lda. Rua 31 De Janeiro Nº 83, 9050-401 Funchal
+351 291 223 247

My visit was arranged by:

Rita Galvão
CEO / Diretora Executiva 
+351 912304517
www.discoveringmadeira.com  www.winetoursmadeira.com

One thought on “A Week In Madeira – 1. Tasting At H.M. Borges

  1. Hi Bernard good to know that you are all enjoying your trip. I had an interesting chat with a young lady at hotel du vin re: Pol Roger dinner and pointed that h m w s are the foremost wine club in Yorkshire (if not in the universe )and if we are to support functions @ h d v we expect a discount within minutes we were offered. 20 per cent discount for 6 or more people. To attend perhaps you might mention this in the hedonist . Still working lots to support the economy and my bank balance . Best regards Peter and Carolxx

    Liked by 1 person

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