The Madeira Wine and Port Wine are the two greatest ambassadors of all Portuguese wines and are renowned worldwide amongst wine lovers. The picturesque island of Madeira is nestled out in the Atlantic Ocean so enjoys a mild climate for most of the year which helps the luscious grape varieties flourish.
Vines are cultivated in small terraces that have been built into the landscape which is very mountainous with deep verdant valleys. The vines grow in fertile volcanic soils and are protected from the sun by natural foliage that hangs over them. Some of the grape varieties have a high acidity which is a common feature of Madeira wines.
There are more than 20 different grape varieties used over Madeira island, but the most highly regarded are known as the ‘noble’ varieties – Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Tinta Negra and Malvasia (also known as Malmsey).
The Sercial wine is dry with a rich aroma and a light-crisp taste while the Verdelho is golden in colour and has a high acidity when aged. But the majority of the vineyards in Madeira cultivate the Tinta Negra variety used for fortified wines. Although wines from Madeira are typically sweet wines, a variety of table wines are also available. One of the best-known and highly appreciated sweet wines of Madeira is the full-bodied Malvasia wine which is deep red in colour, has an intense perfumed aroma and complements desserts very well.