Madeira Wine Production

Date June 14, 2010

Continuing down the road of fortified wine production I wanted to go over Madeira wine production in this post. You don’t really see much info on Madeira but it is a fine fortified wine when you’re not staring any of the various bottles of cheap cooking wine. If you’d like to read about the various styles of Madeira, read my post, Madeira Wine: A Drink To Independence. You will also find characteristics and classification levels.

The Noble grape wines of Madeira.Traditionally made from one of four of the Noble wine grapes of the region, Malvasia, Baul, Sercial, or Verdelho, Madeira is labeled varietally. For a while, after Phylloxera destroyed a majority of vineyards in Madeira during the 1800′s, wine makers substituted Tinta Negra Mole for each varietal. Entire vineyards were planted and used for all styles until the Noble grapes were reintroduced. Today at least 85% of the juice in a bottle of Madeira must be of the varietal on the label to be classified as such varietal.

Tinta Negra Mole is still used in Madeira wine production for standard quality wines as with the crappy cooking Madeiras you find in grocery stores. These often are labeled as dry, medium dry, medium sweet and rich or sweet. The Noble wine grapes are used only in the highest quality Madeira wines.

As with other fortified wines, Brandy, in this case a clear Brandy is added before fermentation ends. This neutralizes the yeasts, stopping alcohol conversion at whatever level is required for the specified style of wine.

Madeira in the estufagem.Then it goes through a “cooking” process called estufagem. The Madeira is placed in casks or estufas and let to age under the hot sun for up to six months. Again the time spent aging is dependent on the style being produced. Other wine makers use hot rooms, or armazens de calor to bake the wines for about a year. This gives the wine a nutty flavor. The best of Madeira wines are aged via estufagem in 600 liter “pipes” or casks for up to 20 years.

That concludes the series on Fortified Wine Production. If you would like to go back and read about the production of other fortified wines they are:

Sherry Production Part 1

Sherry Production Part 2

Port Wine Production Part 1

Port Wine Production Part 2

Learn about wine, read on.

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Related posts:

  1. Sherry Production Part 1
  2. Madeira Wine: A Drink To Independence
  3. Port Wine Production Part 2
  4. Learn About Fortified Wines
  5. Port Wine Production Part 1
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