Main | June 2006 »

May 30, 2006

The Making Of Madeira Wine

Old Casks at ABSL

Old Casks at ABSL

The grapes are grown on steep terraces all over the island. At the north coast and in the Camara do Lobos area there are some larger vineyards, but usually they are very small and sometimes rather remote. At Camara do Lobos Henriques & Henriques built a relatively large vineyard, the size of ten hectares with the help of bulldozers. This vineyard is accessible for modern machines. It is one of only two such areas in the moment, but the Madeira Wine Company is also planning for a big vineyard. About 4500 growers cultivate grapes on the island, most of them in the Câmara de Lobos area. Altogether some 2000 hectares are suitable for wine-growing, but only 600 are planted with vines, since the cultivation of bananas is much more rewarding. Most wine growers also grow vegetables for themselves or for the local market between the vines. This slows the growing of the grapes which become more aromatic and more concentrated. The grapes are mostly grown in the pergola-style, low in height and covered with a roof of their own leaves. This protects the grapes from the strong winds and the sometimes dramatic changes in temperature. The distance between the vines is two to three yards. The plants are usually irrigated with water from the levadas. The different varieties are grown in different heights above sea level. Boal and Malvasia are best grown in lower altitudes, whereas Verdelho and Sercial like the higher altitudes. The versatile and robust Tinta Negra Mole imitates the other varieties depending on the altitude it is grown at and depending on the processing.

The vintage of 2003, seen at ABSL

The vintage of 2003, seen at ABSL

The harvest is mostly done manually. Malvasia is the first, the dry varieties Verdelho and Sercial go last. This sounds like a paradox, but since the aromas are not backed up by sweetness, these grapes simply have to get as much sun as possible for the development of their aromas. The grapes are then carried up to the next street, sometimes hundreds of yards, and are collected on small trucks. Then they go to the winepress, where the grapes are crushed and pressed. Until into the late 1970’s this used to be done with feet and wooden presses. One lagar is still featured in the museum of the Madeira Wine Company. The fermented juice used to then be carried by the boracheiros in goatskins containing up to 70 liters or 15 gallons to the winecellar downhill. Such a load was of course tough to carry and made the men thirsty. And so there are many stories of boracheiros reaching the cellar with empty skins but heavily drunk. Today the processing and cellaring is done at the location of the press. The fermenting of the must is stopped with brandy; the time of adding the brandy depending on the grape variety. The must from the Malvasia grape gets the brandy right at the beginning of fermentation, Boal and Verdelho around the fourth day, and Sercial about a month after the fermentation started. In this way the resulting wine will be sweet or dry, depending on when the fermentation of the grape's sugar was stopped, but all the wines will have high alcohol content. The adding of brandy is known as fortification.

Old Casks at ABSL

Old Casks at ABSL

The fortified young wine is then transferred to the estufa. In the simplest version, this is a large container, usually stainless steel, with a pipe system in it. The pipes circulate hot water in them and so heat the wine over several days to a temperature of about 50 degrees Celsius or 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This final temperature is then kept for about three months. Since the heating in this way is rather fast, some of the wine's sugar will turn to caramel. The wine will then feature the typical burnt (and sometimes rather bitter) taste of the lower qualities of Madeira wine. The better qualities of Madeira are put into large wooden casks, standing in a heated room. The best wines and all the vintages are treated with the Canteiro method. The casks with the young fortified wine are transferred to the roof, where they will be exposed to the sun's heat. The beam carrying the casks is called canteiro, giving this method it's name. As an example the building of Henriques & Henriques in Camara do Lobos has a huge window front to the south to get as much heat in as possible. Wines treated with the Canteiro method do not display so much caramel, but rather have a fresh fruity taste. But canteiro wines need much more time to develop. As a rule of thumb, 5 years canteiro equal 3 months estufa. Once the wine is in the estufa or cask, the Madeira Wine Institute will impose a seal on the container and register it's contents.

Estufa, being heated to 50 degrees Celsius, seen at Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda.

Estufa, being heated to 50 degrees Celsius, seen at Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda.

When the heating is finished, the wine in the estufa is allowed to cool and -after a resting-time (estagio) of 3 months- will then be transferred into wooden casks to be stored for years to come. Depending on the intended use, this can be three to fifteen years. There is always some air in the casks and so the wine completely oxidizes, i.e. the organic contents of the wine react with the air's oxygen and thereby change the color, the smell and the taste of the wine. Finally the wine goes into the blend. The cellarmaster tries to keep the characteristic taste of the shippers wine by blending different wines together. The normal everyday Madeira wine is such a blend, the age given on the label indicating the youngest wine in the blend. Blended wine with the name of a grape variety on the label must contain at least 85% of this grape. The other 15% can be filled up with other varieties, usually Tinta Negra Mole.

Old Casks at ABSL

Old Casks at ABSL

The very good wines from the canteiro method are treated in a different way, they can become Vintage Madeiras. This means that they will stay in cask (Madeira pipes with 480 liters) for a minimum of twenty years, most of them much longer, up to hundred years and more. In this time the sun's heat leads to further concentration and oxidation. The level of extract, acid, sugar and alcohol rises considerably over the decades. The level of alcohol can reach up to 25% volume in wines with a very long time in cask. Before over-concentration makes the wine undrinkable it will be transferred to glass demi-johns containing 22 liters or 5 gallons of wine. Those demi-johns are then sealed airtight which stops further development of the wine and enables long-time storing. In earlier times, this was the way for the (slightly decadent) Madeira lover to store its wine in large quantities. Finally the wine is bottled and will then rest another two years before it is put on the market. If the wine in a later stage of developement turns out to be not of satisfying vintage-quality it will be used to back up the blends with complexity.

Demijohns, seen in the wine museum of the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira

Demijohns, seen in the wine museum of the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira

Madeira wine, because of the complete oxidation, is very robust and will keep for years to come, even centuries. Once a bottle is opened, the contents will also keep at least for weeks or months. So you can take your time and slowly sip on history without having to worry about the wine getting bad.

Grape Varieties

The grape variety indicated on the label does not only name the grape that the wine was made from, but also indicates a certain taste. There is the dry Sercial, the mild Verdelho, the medium sweet Bual and the rich and oily Malmsey. Terrantez and Bastardo are usually medium dry but difficult to obtain these days since very little is grown on the island. If one of the before mentioned grapes is mentioned on the label, the contents have to be at least 85% of this variety. The Tinta Negra Mole, a red grape, is not mentioned on the label and can have tastes from dry to sweet, depending on the elaboration of the wine.

Vineyard in Estreito de Camara de Lobos

Vineyard in Estreito de Camara de Lobos

Just until a few years ago there were noble and good varieties, but today you speak of traditional varieties. These are: Sercial, Verdelho, Boal or Bual, Malvasia or Malmsey, Terrantez and Bastardo. Moscatel, Listrão and others are also called traditional. Officially the grapes are classified as “recommended” (like the Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Malvasia, Terrantez, Bastardo, Tinta Negra Mole) and “authorized” (like the Moscatel, Listrao, Complexa, Triunfo and others).

The Commission Regulation (EEC) No 3369/92 of 24 November 1992 amending for the thirteenth time Regulation (EEC) No 3800/81 determining the classification of vine varieties specifies this issue exactly: Recommended vine varieties for Madeira are: Bastardo T, Boal B, Esgana Cao B (=Sercial), Folgasao B (=Terrantez), Malvasia Cândida B, Malvasia Roxa R, Moscatel B, Tinta T, Tinta Negra Mole T, Verdelho Branco B, Verdelho Tinto T. Authorized vine varieties for Madeira are: Água Santa T, Alvarinho Lilás B, Arns Burguer B, Bastardo Espanhol T, Cabernet Sauvignon T, Campanário B, Caracol B, Carao de Moça B, Chardonnay B, Chenin B, Complexa T, Deliciosa T, Ferral T, Generosa B, Grenache T, Listrao Roxo R, Malvasia Babosa B, Malvasia Bianca B, Malvasia Branca de S. Jorge B, Malvasia Cândida Romana B, Malvasia de Oeiras B, Malvasia Fina B, Malvasia Rei B, Mario Feld T, Merlot T, Mindelo T, Perigo B, Pinot Branco B, Pinot Gris R, Portalegre T, Riesling B, Rio Grande B, Sauvignon blanc B, Spatburgunder T, Syrah T, Tália B, Tinta Barroca T, Tinta de Lisboa T, Tinta do Porto Santo T, Touriga Francesa T, Touriga Nacional T, Triunfo T, Valveirinho B.

All the above-mentioned grapes are European varieties from the Vitis Vinifera family. Most of the lesser grapes, planted after Oidium and Phylloxera are from the American Vitis Labrusca or Vitis Aestivaldis family. Their main members are: Jacquez, Herbemont, Isabella, Othello and Noah. A simple table wine is produced from these grapes and sold on the island only, since the European Community does not allow export of wines from Vitis Labrusca. The strawberry-like taste or so-called fox-taste makes the distinction to the real Madeira wine made from Vitis Vinifera very easy.

Vineyards in Estreito de Camara de Lobos

Vineyards in Estreito de Camara de Lobos

The English name Sercial is used for the Portuguese Cerceal, but the grape used on the island of Madeira is not to be confused with the Cerceal do Dao. Sercial was not grown very much after Phylloxera, but the number of vineyards with Sercial is growing again. They are the vineyards with the highest altitude, situated in Seixal and Ribeira da Janela on the northern coast of the island. Some people say that because of the high level of acidity Sercial is the same grape as the German Riesling, but this is certainly wrong from an ampelographic point of view.
The grapes are very compact, about 18cm long, weighing 170grams. This variety ripens late, producing a wine with volatile fruit and good, sometimes burning acidity. The medium-size leaves have a hairy undersurface and are made of three main parts in the middle with one smaller part to each side.

The high level of acidity makes Sercial almost undrinkable in its youth. In the 16th century, this wine was called "Esgana Cão" - dog-strangler. To obtain a maximum aroma as a counterpart, Sercial is harvested as the last of the grapes, often as late as the beginning of October. Sercial has to mature for a long time, before it is drinkable. The minimum of twenty years in cask for vintages will just be enough to soften the piercing acidity. Once this wine has found its balance, it makes a perfect aperitif but it can also hold its own very well. On the island, Sercial is often served with soup, nuts, crackers or other snacks. The cocktail "Madeira on the Rocks" is made of 2/3 dry Madeira of a lesser quality and 1/3 Campari. Sercial also goes well after Champagne.

A vintage Sercial wine usually has a color of a golden tawny, similar to old German Riesling wines. The nose might display some high volatile acidity. Young Sercials often have a range of fruit aromas with a focus on orange and lemon, but as the wine matures this can shift to a more nutty and turpentine like taste, again similar to old Rieslings. A high level of acidity will be present in most Sercials, which will make this wine a good before-dinner drink. Also I prefer it after a meal to cleanse the palate.

Sercial grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Sercial grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Verdelho is also a white grape, the taste being medium dry, tasting between Sercial and Bual. Just like the other Castas Nobres it was very little grown until 1980, when it began being planted again. Verdelho, also known as Gouveio in Portugal, gives a medium dry wine. The grape is also cultivated in Australia. There also is a red variety of Verdelho, the Verdelho Tinto. Verdelho is grown on the south side of the island from Funchal west to Estreito de Câmara de Lobos. On the north side it is grown in the more sheltering pergola style in Ribeira de Janela and São Vicente.

The grapes are larger than Sercial, about 20cm long. They are good table grapes and give a mild wine with slightly nutty flavor, becoming drier as it matures. The vine is very strong and relatively high and difficult to cultivate. The leaves are of medium size with small hairs on both surfaces.

Verdelho is the main ingredient of a medium dry light wine called "Rainwater" which is very popular in the United States. The cheaper qualities are made from Tinta Negra Mole. The legend around the name tells that the contents of a shipment to Savannah, Georgia, were diluted when a heavy rain hit the casks still standing on the beach. The recipient of the shipment liked the lighter taste and ordered more. Verdelho is also used to make the Atlantis White, one of the two official table wines made on the island.

The color of Verdelho is about the same of Sercial, sometimes a little darker. It does not have the piercing acidity of Sercial but displays a more rounded taste. The nose has dried fruits and honey that are also evident on the palate and sometimes there are also a little coffee and chocolate.

Verdelho grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Verdelho grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Bual is the English name for the Portuguese Boal. Bual is a white variety producing a medium sweet wine. The name was used for a whole group of grapes but today is usually connected with the Bual de Madeira also known as Boal Cachudo. Grown on the north side around São Vicente and on the south side at Campanário and Câmara de Lobos, it took over for Malmsey in many vineyards.

The grapes are large, heavy and are good table grapes because of their sweet aroma. The medium sized vine has three-part leaves like the Sercial.

Bual is a good start for those having their first experience with Madeira wine. It is medium sweet but not to sticky, very aromatic with some acidity balancing the sweetness. Do not let yourself be fooled by the color which tends to be the darkest of all Madeira wines. The nose has richness and aromas of barley sugar and the palate often has some additional caramel and coffee aromas as well as dried fruits like orange peel or apricot.

Boal grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Boal grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Malmsey is the most famous Madeira wine for sure. The English name Malmsey is used for the white Malvasia grape which has its roots in the Greek islands. Malvasia, or more precise, Malvasia Candida spread throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and went down in numbers in the Baroque period. However, around the world sweet and fortified wines are still made from all sorts of different members of the Malvasia family, like the white Malvasia Bianchi di Chianti, Malvasia Toscana, Malvasia Istriana, Malvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia Sarda, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia Candida, Malvasia Rei, Malvasia Bianca and the greek Malvazia as well as from the red Malvasia Nera and Malvasia di Carsorzo.

The large grapes with small elliptic berries weigh up to 400 grams and are grown on high and solid vines. The grapes are liked for their sweet aroma as table grapes. The variety ripens fast but can stay on the vine for a long time as they do not easily rot. The vineyards are the lowest in altitude, about 250 m above sea level. The grapes are grown in São Jorge and Santana on the north coast and in Câmara de Lobos and Estreito de Câmara de Lobos on the south coast. The leaves are made of five parts equal in size.

There are many stories around Malmsey which was exported as early as the 15th century. On the European continent the widely grown Malvasia of the Middle Ages had already found many friends like Martin Luther and minnesinger Oswald von Wolkenstein. In times when sugar was not known, this golden and sweet liquid sun fascinated the people. When later the more robust Madeira Malmsey entered the market, it was a complete success. It combined sweetness and aroma with good keeping and easy handling like no other wine.

In 1478 the Duke of Clarence preferred death by drowning himself in a cask of Malmsey to the death by sword. In the works of William Shakespeare's you can find many hints to Malmsey. In "Henry IV" Poins accuses the Prince of Wales to have sold his soul for a glass of Malmsey and a chicken leg. One of John Falstaff’s drinking friends is named after his Malmsey-reddened nose. Even Napoleon, stopping over on the island on his way into exile on St. Helena in 1815, took some Malmsey to brighten his days. Before, on his military operations, he had also carried some Malmsey with him. In the 19th century Malmsey really came en vogue. There was the "Morning Malmsey" to begin the day and many other rituals revolving around the golden wine. Even today, long after Oidium and Phylloxera, a good Malmsey crowns a perfect meal like no other wine. It also makes a good vino da meditazione. The combination with coffee, cookies or nuts is classical, as is the taste together with a very good bitter chocolate. But also on its own, Malmsey itself is an excellent desert. António Batalha Reis said: An elixir to be drunken by the gods, no drink for mere mortals! Even Goethe used to sip on his Malmsey, sitting in the cellar of the famous „Elephant“ hotel in Weimar.

An old Malmsey vintage will just be a little lighter in color than Bual. The nose is all toffee, vanilla and sometimes even beef bouillon. The palate has toffee and vanilla as well, added by marmalade sweetness and -some say- a distinctive taste of cough syrup.

Malvasia grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Malvasia grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

This white, medium dry, sometimes rather sweet variety is hardly grown anymore. You can sometimes still find it in old vintages or soleras. Unfortunately the total harvest of Terrantez does not even fill a complete cask of wine, usually containing a little above 500 liters. Efforts are underway to replant this grape, but since it is difficult to work with and yields rather low quantities, the growers are not very enthusiastic about replanting it. The Terrantez vintage wines mainly come in two different styles. One style is on the rich and rather sweet side, as used by the Madeira Wine Company. The other style is very dry, still rich though, a little like a rich Sercial, but without the strong lemon flavor. A characteristic of Terrantez is a certain bitterness at the end of the finish that reminds me of burnt coffee and ashes. A Portuguese proverb says "As uvas de Terrantez, não as comas nem as dês, para vinho Deus as fez." meaning: The grapes of Terrantez are not for eating, nor to give them away, but for wine god created them.
The Terrantez grape is my favorite variety for Madeira wine, because with this particular grape, Madeira wine seems to be at its best. Examples like the Acciaioly 1802 or the Blandy 1846 show the enormous potential of the grape, the caleidoscope of aromas and the ability to gain in complexity over the centuries.

This variety is still widely grown in Portugal and is identically with the French Trousseau. It is also a grape in the Douro valley used for Port. It is the only red grape among the Castas Nobres and nowadays you can only find it in old vintages and soleras. To my knowledge only miniscule amounts are grown these days. But some glorious old vintages do exist and of course there is the vintage of 1927 which produced excellent Bastardo wines. Even though Bastardo is a sweet grape, the style of the vintage wines is often on the dry side. It also has some bitterness at the end of the finish.

Bastardo grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Bastardo grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Moscatel is the white wine of the Moscatel of Alexandria grape, one of the lower quality varieties of the Muscat/Moscatel family, counted among the castas boas. It is apparently no longer grown in significant quantities, but you can still find it in some old vintages. Pereira D´Oliveira has a few different Moscatel vintages and some vintages of other producers are still around at auctions from time to time.

Moscatel grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Moscatel grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Listrão is one of the authorized varieties for Madeira wine and is cultivated in small quantities on the neighboring island of Porto Santo. Barros e Sousa makes a five year old fruity wine of Listrão.

Label of ABSL Listrao

Label of ABSL Listrao

Old Wine
This does not name a grape variety but a vintage that does not consist of one single grape variety as the rules of the IVM say. This happens, when a year was good enough to declare it as a vintage but the yields of the different varieties were not enough to put them in cask and mature them at an affordable cost. In this case, as an example Bual and Malmsey will be matured together as "Old Wine" since the regulations don't know a Bual-Malmsey vintage. Sometimes Tinta might be added as well. Blends of different grape varieties are not uncommon anymore. The Alvada wine of the Madeira Wine Company is a blend of Malmsey and Boal. The Barbeito company has also made some wonderful blended wines from different grape varieties.

Tinta Negra Mole
Tinta is a red grape and is very versatile. Often called the working horse amongst the different varieties, it is one of the reasons for the decline of Madeira wine in the 19th and 20th century. It is counted among the Castas Boas, the good varieties. Tinta or TNM is grown around Funchal, São Vicente and Câmara de Lobos and is the most widely grown grape on the island. About 3/4 of the total production is Tinta. Depending on the height of the vineyard and the processing of the wine it can imitate the other varieties to a great degree. This makes Tinta so tempting for many producers, but the class of the other traditional varieties is said to be not fully reached by Tinta. The grape is a cross of Pinot Noir and Grenache. Some vineyards with Tinta are cleared today and replanted with other traditional vines, but it is still widely used, especially for the three year old blends.

However Tinta is not of low quality, as many good three, five and even some ten year old blends show. According to many wine professionals it simply does not quite reach the excellent quality of the other grapes. My personal belief is that it has great potential as long as it is well cared for. Some of the modern colheitas and harvest wines are made entirely of Tinta grapes and they show the great abilities of this grape very well. Also it has been added to vintage Madeira wines throughout the 19th and 20th century in small amounts up to 5 percent, since the wine made from TNM offered a certain neutrality that made it easy to add, without changing the original wines nose and palate. Since it is easy to grow, more wine of the medium qualities like older blends and the non-frasqueira vintage wines will be made from Tinta. I think we are going to be very surprised in the future about how good Tinta can really be.

The vine is robust with durable wood, medium size leaves and small black berries. The must is red at first but the estufagem procedure clears the color so that it acquires a green-white shine. Besides being used for blends, selected Tinta grapes from Campanário are also used for the Atlantis Rosé.

Tinta grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

Tinta grapes seen at ABSL, shown with the friendly permission of Maik Göbel

May 29, 2006

Update still in progress...

Well, it's still not done but there are many chapters online already. Please check them out and let me know of any typos and corrections - thanks!

About The Recorking Of Old Wines

Basically you should have any old wine recorked about every thirty to forty years. Francisco Albuquerque, the oenologist and quality control manager of the Madeira Wine Company, even thinks that recorking should be done every fifteen years. Anyway, it is best to have a professional do this for you. There are some mistakes easily to be made that can lead to the complete loss of the wine. So, only do this if you can find nobody else. Also it has to be said, that if you want to keep an old bottle as a financial investment, you should have this bottle recorked by a well-known reliable pro. If you do the recorking yourself, the financial value of the bottle will go down since it is not “original” anymore and you have no proof of the authenticity of the wine inside.

The following text describes how I do it, it is neither the perfect reference method, nor is it fool-proof. Until writing these lines, I have recorked about fifteen old bottles so of course my experience is limited. On the other hand, until now I have never lost a bottle and the recorked bottles are doing fine so far, the first being recorked in 1998. During this time I have tried several new things and dropped some old ones; I am still learning. Please read the complete text several times and make sure you understand it in detail before you recork any precious old bottle! If you have any questions fell free to email me and ask me in detail.

Warning: Do none of the following procedure with any hand-blown or very old manufactured bottles. These bottles crack so easily, that you should not take the risk of recorking them. (How do you know if a bottle is hand-blown or manufactured? Please refer to the chapter about old bottles!)

You need a number of things to recork an old bottle. Do not use these items for anything else, as they might give off some strange odors to the wine. Some of these items you will have to buy at a special shop, most things will be found in the kitchen. Corks, handcorking machine and sealing wax might be found at your local winery, or using the internet. Feeding the usual search-engines will give you the needed shops that sell everything for home-brewing and associated activities. Before using these items, wash them with very hot water, do not use a detergent, and let them dry on a clean towel.

You will need the following items:

  • Corkscrew: Take a good one! Nothing is worse than a crumbled cork.
  • Receptacle: Should have the volume of a quart or so (at least the volume of a wine bottle plus).
  • Funnel: Try fitting it into the opening of a wine bottle, before using it!
  • Corks: The standard size is about 20 to 21 mm in diameter and about 38 to 45 mm in length. You will have to find real corks, because so-called agglocorks can not be handled by a handcorking machine. Artificial corks made of silicone and other materials also won’t work. Before using the corks they need to be put under cold water for 24 hours, this is very important! If you can’t find a new cork then there is one last alternative. You can use an old cork if you take care of three things: Take the wanted cork out of the bottle with a very thin and sharp corkscrew; the best way to do this is to use a corkscrew with two little blades that are inserted between cork and bottle. The cork is then removed without damaging it. Make sure the cork is of good length and in good condition without any sealing wax. A cork from a higher priced wine bottle should do the job, the newer the cork is, the better. The cork will then be turned upside down when it is inserted into your Madeira wine bottle, so any traces of the former wine should not go into your Madeira wine. It is always better the use a new cork, but I did take two used corks for the recorking of two Russian Massandra bottles with very thin bottle necks. This took place in 1999 and the corks are doing fine so far... If not sure about the two ends of the cork, it is ok to cut off a thin slice with a very sharp knife. Any traces of wax or other materials should be getting removed by doing so. The wine will not touch the cork anyway since it is going to be stored in an upright position.
  • Sealing wax: You can use the real sealing wax for sealing documents, but this is rather expensive and also contains collophonium which can irritate your mucous membranes and might give off some strange aromas to the wine or your wine cellar. The special sealing wax for bottles comes as a powder. If you can't find both, use ordinary household wax, but do not use any perfumed candles for this!
  • Handcorking machine: You will find this item in the internet or in a special shop, it is less expensive then you think! If you can't get a handcorking machine using cone-shaped corks can be an alternative. The corks are then hammered into the bottle with a small hammer. However the bottles will not be sealed air-tight enough to be stored in a down position, but Madeira wine should be stored in an upright position anyway. Do not hammer corks into bottles of pre-industrial make! These bottles are very likely to burst and the wine will be completely lost!
  • Glass balls: Do not use colored glass balls as the colors might go into the wine. There are small glass balls for heating procedures in a laboratory or as a filling material in cooling pipes in distillation machines. You will need the glass balls to compensate for evaporated wine to bring the filling level in the bottle back to normal. Check if they fit into the wine bottle first!
  • Rectified spirit: You will need about half a pint to disinfect the glass balls and the cork. As John Trobley in a post on the Madeira forum pointed out, great care should be used to use undenatured spirit or methylated spirit containing only completely volatile denaturing (rectifying) agents. Some rectified spirit contains an extremely bitter and nonvolatile compound called Sucrose Octaacetate. Other compounds that may be problemantic are Denatonium (also extremely bitter), crotonaldehyde, and gasoline. If spirits containing these substances, which are foul, bitter, or toxic, are used to sterilize the glass balls, it's possible that the bottle will be ruined and become undrinkable. So either use undenatured spirits, or spirits containing, say, only methanol (methyl alcohol). In the United States, undenatured industrial alcohol is available in some states under the brand-name Klear-Vue, and this should work admirably. If in doubt, make sure that the spirit used is ok by simply tasting a small potion of it.
  • Small drinking glass: to put the glass balls and the rectified spirit into.
  • Table spoon
  • Coffee spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Clean tea towel
  • Old cup, microwave safe
  • Saucer

All the necessary things

All the necessary things

Try having someone to help you, it makes the following a lot easier and it is more fun too.

24 hours before starting the recorking procedure the corks are put into cold water. It is important that the corks are drowned completely. Put two or three spare corks in, they can be dried afterwards and used again.

Next day, the fun starts with the "peeling" of the bottle. Use the table spoon to carefully hammer the old sealing wax from the bottle, very much like peeling an egg. With the knife you can scrape remaining wax away. The cork should be completely clean from wax. If the bottle is very old, the procedure of peeling it can result in a crack or even in breaking the bottle. So use the alternative method: “shave” the bottle with a rather sharp and stable knife.

Peeled cork

Peeled cork

The cork is then removed with a corkscrew. Put the cork aside, it will not be reused, but can give you some clues on how the wine was stored.

If you want to put a little wine aside for later tasting, this is the time! But remember that Madeira takes some time to open up, after a long time in the bottle. I usually take a sip at once, then two or three hours later to get an impression of how the wine is opening up.

The glass balls are put into the drinking glass, the glass is then filled with rectified spirit. Put a saucer on the top to keep the spirit from evaporating to fast.

Glass balls

Glass balls

The glass balls are put on the towel, the rectified spirit will quickly evaporate from the glass balls. With the teaspoon you put as much glass balls into the bottle as necessary to bring the level of the wine back to normal. One to two thumbs under the cork is a good level.

Glass balls in the bottle

Glass balls in the bottle

Dip the wet cork into the rectified spirit and put the wet cork into the handcorking machine. Your helping hand secures the bottle with one hand. The corking machine is put on top of the bottle. The correct position on the bottleneck is secured with the second hand. Now it is your turn. It is essential that the cork is pressed into the bottle with one fast motion. Coming out of the handcorking machine, the cork has been pressed together by the machine and is now reduced in diameter. So when entering the bottle, the air inside the bottleneck can move along the cork to the outside. If this is done too slowly, the cork will expand too early, the air from the bottleneck will be trapped and the pressure in the bottle will rise to dangerous levels! A bouncing cork will be the best result; a broken bottle will be the worst! You better practice this before! So do this quick and with some power. The cork should go in for at least three fourths; any remaining cork outside the neck can be cut off with a sharp knife. Again: Do not recork any hand-blown bottles, it is just too risky!

Let the cork dry for fifteen minutes and wipe the bottleneck with some rectified spirit to ensure a good contact with the sealing wax.

The sealing wax can be heated in a tin cup on a camping stove; I prefer an old cup and the microwave. Choose a medium setting and watch the wax carefully, it melts faster than you think. (Rule of thump: a full cup of sealing wax powder takes about 5 minutes at 700 watt to melt) When the wax is completely melted, take the bottle upside down and dip it into the wax, until the neck is covered for about two thumb's widths and pull it out in a quick motion. The wax takes about one minute to harden again, if you use your own seal, you can press it into the wax now. The remaining sealing wax can stay in the cup for the next time. Do not seal any hand-blown or very old manufactured bottles. Old glass can not stand sudden changes in temperature and is very likely to crack when you dip the bottle neck into the hot wax! If you really want to be on the safe side, gently warm the bottle neck with a hairdryer before sealing it. This lessens the difference in temperature and should reduce the risk of cracks. Also the cork will be completely dry and the sealing wax will stick to it very well.



The complete procedure takes about thirty minutes per bottle.


The official history of Madeira starts with the discovery of the island of Porto Santo by João Gonçalves, also called O Zarco "the cross-eyed" and his fellow officers Bartolomeu Perestrelo and Tristão Vaz Teixeira in 1418. The next year they discovered Madeira island which was just 38 kilometers (23 miles) away. Some people say that the history of Madeira started much earlier. They believe, although there is no archeological proof, that it was the remains of the lost Atlantis. It seems that the Phoenicians knew about the island, but whatever their knowledge was, it has been lost over time. The Arab sailors of Morocco also seem to have had knowledge of an island in the west and called it "El Aghnam". In the 14th century Madeira island has been shown on numerous maps. It can be found under the italic name "Isola de Lolegnane" meaning "island of wood" which is just the same as island of Madeira in Portuguese on the Medici map of 1351. At least four other maps exist from the 14th century where Madeira island is also shown.

Whoever knew of this island, he did not settle there. In the 15th century it was Henry the Navigator who promoted settlement on the island. The first to come were prisoners, but soon there was an established society on Madeira. Something the first settlers brought along was grapevines. Land for the growing of wine was always rare and had to be cultivated with great efforts. This was only possible with the help of slaves, mostly Guanches. They also built the irrigation-system, the levadas. This irrigation enabled the growing of sugarcane which later brought great wealth to the island. Legend tells that O Zarco had set the heavily wooded island on fire which was then ablaze for a period of 7 years. Maybe that contributed to the high fertility of the island. Anyway, the warm climate and the volcanic soil allowed a very efficient cultivation of the land. So of course the grapevines did very well and the first reference to wine grown on the island had been written as early as 1485, only some 60 years after the colonization started. This wine of Madeira was not fortified at first. It was just plain ordinary dry wine, completely fermented. But according to the quotes of Aviso da Mosto, who visited the island in 1453 "Really good wines are produced here..."

In 1508 Funchal was granted the rights of a city and the building of a cathedral (the Se) was initiated by king Manoel. The sugarcane growing became less profitable and so in the first half of the 16th century most of the sugarcane plantings were converted to vineyards. The export of wine began to increase and the middle of the century saw a solid export of wine to the West Indies, America and England. Even the Spanish usurpation of 1580 did not seriously affect the steady growth of export numbers. In 1662 the negotiations for the marriage between Charles II of England and Catharina of Braganca considerably left out Madeira island because it had become one of the most prized possessions of Portugal. Charles II accepted, even without getting the island of Madeira. The bonding between England and Portugal brought the English merchants to the island. The exports steadily expanded and were further augmented by two decrees. In 1643 João IV ordered all ships bound for Brazil to stop at Madeira island for wines. In 1665 Charles II prohibited the shipping of European goods to the West Indies and America unless these goods were being shipped with British ships and from British ports. Madeira had been intentionally left out of this decree, because it meant more tax income for the king.

And so, the new American colonies became a favorite trading partner for this wine. Five years before the Boston tea party there was an open conflict when the sloop "Liberty", smuggling Madeira wine for John Hancock had been seized by the British warship "Romney". In fact John Rowe, owner of the tea that was thrown into Boston harbor in 1773, had a lot of trade going on with the island of Madeira. General Washington was a great friend of this wine; it is said that he drank a pint of it daily. His inauguration as president of the United States and the appointment of the city of Washington as the capital were celebrated with Madeira. So, it’s no surprise that the Americans celebrated their Declaration of Independence with a glass of Madeira. The legendary frigate Constitution, the oldest ship in the world that is still afloat, was also baptized with Madeira wine. Together with its special sandwich live oak planking construction this Madeira wine treatment might have contributed to the invulnerability of "Old Ironsides"... As a remembrance of this event, the Madeira vintage of 1802 has been named Constitution as well. While the European market remained unstable, the US remained a solid importer of Madeira wines. Until the twentieth century Madeira played an important part in the social life of the upper class. It was especially favored in cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Philadelphia, New York and Savannah where they celebrated with so-called ‘Madeira-parties’. At these events, you drank several vintages of Madeira to a light meal like terrapin-soup. In Silas Weir Mitchell’s famous book "A Madeira Party" the reader will find a very detailed and slightly ironic picture of such an event. Visitors of Savannah today can do a "Madeira Tour" at the Davenport House and there still is a "Madeira Club" in Savannah.

Old Map of Madeira

Old Map of Madeira

It was just by chance that the positive effect of the long voyage from Madeira to America was discovered. The travel and the heat had turned the wine into something completely different. The baked oxidized taste was to the like of a growing number of people. In the middle of the 18th century fortification began, due to overflowing stocks of wine during times of war. This ‘overflow’ wine was distilled and the resulting alcohol added to the Madeira wine. This procedure also enhanced the durability of the resulting wine. Later the estufagem, the heating of the wine, was invented as a substitute for the long and costly sea travels. The beginning of the 19th century saw most companies treating their wines with the estufagem process. From that point on, it was possible to produce Madeira in greater amounts for the growing market. The fortified wine became more and more en vogue. Many more merchants came to the island of Madeira and entered the wine trade. In the first half of the 19th century, the trade with Madeira wine reached its peak.

Historic picture of an early estufa of Cossart Gordon, seen at the IVM

Historic picture of an early estufa of Cossart Gordon, seen at the IVM

And then, within twenty years, two dramatic events hit the island and destroyed the whole wine production. At first Oidium infected the vines in 1851. Before the wine industry had recovered, the second plague Phylloxera hit the island in 1872. Only because of the foresight of some of the shippers did the wine industry survive. In the vineyards the European vines were grafted on Phylloxera-resistent American roots. Oidium was battled with sulfur and copper nitrate. Many old vintages were still in cask and only because of those huge amounts of old pre-Phylloxera wine could they enhance the quality of the later vintages by blending in the old vintages. Still, the quality went down over the following years. Many of the American vines, originally intended for grafting, began to grow free in the vineyards. The versatile Tinta Negra Mole was now being preferred to the difficult classical varieties. With the sinking quality and the increasing competition from other fortified wines the markets dwindled. Madeira wine was no longer used for drinking only but found its way into the cooking pot, usually as an ingredient for sauces.

In 1913 most of the remaining shippers founded the Madeira Wine Association to fight the decline together. All the British shippers and most of the Portuguese shippers eventually entered this association. Today only six exporting producers are left on the island.

But only after 1970 did quality take an upturn. To meet the standards of the European Community Portugal issued guidelines concerning the winemaking. In 1980, the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira (IVM) was founded which supervised the whole wine industry on Madeira from growing the wine to filling the bottles. All bottles therefore bear the "Selo de Garantia Madeira", which guarantees a minimum standard. The replanting of the classical grape varieties is also promoted and lower quality vines are cleared. Still, one has to remember that all those measures will take a long time to work. Because of the long production process, it will take at least a few decades to reach the old quality standard.

The export of bulk wine, a long standing problem for the quality standard, was finally ended in 2001. Since this date only island bottled Madeira wine is available. A little bulk wine is still exported, but this wine is mixed with salt and pepper, so that it can not be rebottled as cheap Madeira wine. The salt and pepper wine can only be used for Madeira wine sauce.

The European Community also wanted to improve the quality of Madeira wine and launched the POSEIMA initiative. Producers who mature wine in the traditional canteiro method (see making of) are financially supported with grants from EU. The wine has to stay in cask for a minimum time of 5 years.



Nevertheless Madeira Wine always had its friends. The exotic flair, the versatility, the different tastes and the easy storing made this a collectible for many wine lovers. Add the relatively cheap price for old vintages and the historic dimension of the wine and it’s easy to understand why. After the low alcohol trend of the early nineties took a turn toward the other direction again, Port, Madeira and even Sherry seem to have a brighter future ahead. More and more people begin to realize that watery Pinot Grigio just doesn't fit a good five-course meal. And you just can't meditate with thin wine! So look out for the Renaissance of Madeira!

May 28, 2006

Upgrade in progress...

Dear visitors,
As you can tell we are in the middle of revamping with a more user friendly and easier to navigate layout. By migrating to the Blogging platform Movable Type we enable such things as:
- visitor comments and discussions
- more frequent updates
- better structuring

The upgrade should be done after this long Memorial Day weekend! Let us know how we are doing by posting some feedback below!

-Hans Reutter


Printed Matter

  • Roger Voss: The Mitchell Beazley pocket guide to fortified and dessert wines. 1st Edition 1989, Mitchell Beazley, London.
  • Horst Dippel: Das Wein Lexikon. 3rd Edition 1997, S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main.
  • Elliot, Trevor: The wines of Madeira, 2010, Trevor Elliot Publishing.
  • Hugh Johnson: Hugh Johnson's pocket wine book 2000. Edition 2000, Mitchell Beazley, London.
  • Hugh Johnson: Der neue Weinatlas. 28th Edition 1996, Hallwag AG, Bern.
  • Hugh Johnson: Der große Johnson. 11th Edition 1997, Hallwag AG, Bern.
  • Hugh Johnson: The Story of Wine. 1st Edition 1989, Mitchell Beazley, London.
  • Jancis Robinson: Jancis Robinson's guide to wine grapes. 2nd Edition 1998, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Jancis Robinson: Das Oxford Weinlexikon. 1st Edition, Hallwag AG, Bern.
  • Alex Liddell: Madeira. 1st Edition 1998, Faber & Faber/Mitchell Beazley. The by far most complete and satisfying book on Madeira ever to be printed. Read it! The second and expanded edition of Madeira the mid-atlantic wine was published by Hurst & Co in 2014 and offers even more Information.
  • Cossart, Noel: Madeira - the island vineyard, 1984, Christie's Wine Publications, London.
  • Cossart, Noel and Berk, Emanuel: Madeira - the island vineyard, expanded second edition with new material by Emanuel Berk, 2011, The Rare Wine Company, Sonoma, California. This is the other new bible on Madeira wine, no Madeira wine collector should be without it.
  • Berk, Emanuel: A century past, a celebration of the Madeira party in America, 1999, The Rare Wine Co, Sonoma, California.
  • H. Warner Allen: Portweine und Madeira, 1962.
  • Croft-Cooke, Rupert: Madeira, 1961, Putnam & Company, London.
  • Simon, Andre L., Craig, E.: Madeira - Wine, Cakes & Sauce, 1933, London.
  • L. Irmes, P. E. Grimm: Madeira, 1973, Gloria-Verlag, Spreitenbach.
  • Henry Vizetelly: Facts about Port and Madeira. 1890, London, Reprint, Baltimore.
  • Silas Weir Mitchell: A Madeira Party. Reprint 1975, Corti Brothers, Sacramento. This reprint also contains an essay on Silas Weir Mitchell and a very interesting essay on "Our Madeira Tradition" by Roy Brady.
  • John Radford, Stephen Brook: Fortified and sweet wines, 2000. Mitchell Beazley Publishers, Octopus Publishing Company Ltd., London.
  • Michael Broadbent: Michael Broadbent’s Vintage Wine – fifty years of tasting three centuries of wines. 2002, published in Great-Britain by Webster’s, in the U.S. by Harcourt.
  • John P. Cann: The Madeira Heritage in Colonial America, 2003, in the 30th Annual Report and Review of the British Historical Society of Portugal.

Internet / WWW

  • (all about Madeira wine)
  • (MWC-homepage)
  • (auctions of the Chicago Wine Company)
  • (longdrinks with Madeira)
  • Mannie Berk's Rare Wine Company clearly is one of the driving forces behind the revival of Madeira wine in the United States. Not only is the company the most important importer of old vintage wines, it also teamed up with Vinhos Barbeito to launch the Historic series of classic Madeira blends. This series offers Boston Bual Special Reserve, New York Malmsey Special Reserve, and Charleston Sercial Special Reserve. Also in Spring 2007 a limited bottling of New Orleans Special Reserve Terrantez has been released. The RareWineCo newsletter is packed with information and news and is allways an excellent source for the serious Madeira wine collector.
  • (Bartholomew and Michael Broadbent)
  • (Justino Henriques)
  • (leads you to the “purple pages” of Jancis Robinson, a great source of information)
  • (good shop in Lisboa, many old vintages)
  • Roy Hersh's website on Port and Madeira is simply the best I know. Tons of information, tasting notes, stories, and most important an excellent forum for discussing all things Port and Madeira - what else could you want?
  • Gerdinho's Port- and Madeira-Blog, in German, but very informative! From time to time I post Madeira wine related topics there.


  • Microsoft Wine Guide, 1995.

  • Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia Deluxe Edition, 1997.

Songs & Poems

  • "Have some Madeira m'dear" by Flanders and Swan. The British duo "Flanders and Swann" were Michael Flanders (1922–1975) and Donald Swann (1923–1994). In 1956 they started performing some of their songs in two-man revues "At The Drop Of A Hat" and "At The Drop Of Another Hat." "Have some Madeira m'dear" was featured in the first revue and tells a story about a young girl who gets seduced by an old man with the help of Madeira wine. If you like more details about this particular song or others, please refer to Flanders and Swann online.

Buying, Storing, Serving

Where To Buy Madeira Wine
You should buy your Madeira wine at the place with the largest selection and the lowest prices: right on the island itself. Outside of Madeira, cheap blends are sold for high prices and Vintage Madeiras that are sold to the US, Europe or Japan are usually twice or three times the price that they were on the island. Another great plus on the island is the tasting. In the buildings of the producers you can taste all the blends for free, the vintages for a small fee. You can then buy your wine there, in one of the wine shops, or in the big supermarkets like Pingodoce or SuperSA. Within the European common market you can carry 90 liters of wine with you, when the alcohol content is under 22%. This makes 128 bottles with 0.7 liters of wine in it, so remember the weight limit of your luggage! It is more complicated with the US. At the joint forums of FTLOP and MWG this issue is covered in all aspects and any US citizens planning to go to the island of Madeira are advised to have a look at this site.

In some travel guides a small shop in Machico is mentioned as an insider tip to buy old Henriques & Henriques ten year old blends of Sercial and Malmsey. You are advised not to buy any of these wines. The firm of Henriques & Henriques told me, that these are three year old Tinta blends, dating from the time when it was allowed to write Sercial on the label, even though the bottle contained Tinta. The contents are no longer drinkable, since these blends where not intended for a long storage and some of the bottles had been in the window of the shop, being exposed to the sun. With a price of at least 30 Euros the bottles are also rather expensive.

Old Vintages at MWC

Old Vintages at MWC

To buy Madeira wine at home, you can try a wine shop or a big food store. In most cases you will find a medium sweet or medium dry wine, intended for cooking. Some large wine merchants, sometimes specializing on fortified wines, will have Madeira wine available, even vintages. The internet is a real alternative; try the big catalogues and/or search-engines for more information about wine shops on the WWW. Also a few shops addresses can be found in the bibliography section. Since Madeira wine is going through a small renaissance as an exotic, mysterious and indestructible wine with impressing age, it has become easier to find Madeira wine on the market. The bad side of this however, is that the stocks of good Madeira wine will be emptied even faster.

How To Store Madeira Wine
Bottles of Madeira wine should be stored in an upright position. A small gas exchange is supposed to keep the oxidized aroma and the contents of the bottle does not touch the cork. Otherwise the taste of the wine could suffer from the fact that the cork deteriorates faster than the wine. It is said that some bottles on the island of Madeira are kept upright in cool rooms without a cork but a plastic cap, though this I doubt. At home, in your wine cellar, you should change the cork at least every forty years or so. You can either do it yourself with the help of a manually operated corking device or you can bring your bottles to a reliable wine shop. If the level of wine in the bottle dropped considerably during storage and you have several bottles of the same wine, you can sacrifice one bottle and use it to fill up the others. The remaining wine might fit into a half bottle that you can buy in a wine shop. You could keep this half bottle for the next recorking (your children would have to do that, so label it exactly) or drink it up as a reward for successful recorking. Another way is to raise the level of wine in a bottle by putting small, sterile, glass balls into the bottle. You can do the recorking yourself or have somebody do it for you. Later in this guide you will find instructions on how to recork an old bottle. In any case you should take action when the level of wine reaches the lower end of the neck. Otherwise there will be to much space for air inside the bottle. If not already done so, you should cover the cork with wax to keep it from drying out. If the bottle is just corked with a short stopper, a good covering with wax or some layers of cellophane is extra important. A very secure way to store your vintage bottles is to seal them into a plastic bag usually used for freezers with a small device available for kitchen or laboratory use. This will also keep the label in top condition and the bottle free from dust.

How To Serve Madeira Wine
Before serving an old Madeira vintage you have to mind four facts. First, the bottle should be opened at least 24 hours before drinking, though 48hours or even more can be necessary. An occasionally present bad smell called bottle sickness needs this time to disappear. Decanting also helps. Second, since the cork is usually covered with sealing wax, you will have to get through the wax first. Break the wax by carefully hitting it with a table spoon, then peel off the pieces, similar to peeling an egg. Very old bottles should not be peeled but shaved with a sharp knife. Third, the cork can be in a bad condition so be careful and use a good corkscrew to get it out. If the cork breaks, pour the wine through a filter immediately. The best way to do this is to use a new coffee filter only to be used for filtering wine. Otherwise the broken cork could affect the taste of the wine. By filtering you will also get possible sediments out of the wine. This sediment will not affect the taste, but the wine will look better in the decanter. Once in the decanter, the wine will keep for quite some time, but a Sercial should be stored in the refrigerator. Fourth, it has been said that wine, kept over some weeks in a lead crystal decanter, will acquire some of the lead. For this reason, but also because even Madeira wine does not live forever, do not take to long to drink up the wine. If you want to keep it as long as possible, fill the decanter with nitro, available in your wine store, to get the oxygen out. A cleansed bottle with a good stopper cork also makes a nice decanter and you have the information about the wine on the bottle.

When you drink Madeira wine, be sure to have it at room temperature. Even Sercial should not be ice cold. The colder the wine is, the fewer aromas will evaporate. Since smelling is a big part of tasting, you would not have the full taste of your wine. The thought of putting ice or water into a Madeira wine is revolting - why not drink thin Pinot Grigio in the first place then? Once the decanter or the bottle of Madeira wine is on the table, it is an old-time custom to pass it clockwise, just like with port. Don't just let it stand there in front of you - pass it on!

Technology is hosted by the CyberRoach Network, consisting of: - -

Software used:
- Movable Type 3.2
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003
- IrfanView
- Various Movable Type plugins

Hardware used:
- Dell Poweredge 1400SC

Service Providers:
- Verizon DSL
- Isomedia

Welcome to

The Online Madeira Wine Guide (3.99)

This website strives to be the ultimate online resource for Madeira Wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Please keep in mind that while all information is believed to be correct there are no guarantees of any kind. Especially the information about producers, shippers and vintages tends to get outdated quickly! Please let me know of any typos or errors and I will be happy to correct them - thanks!

Photos are now online. Enjoy!


Version History

3.99 - 05/28/2006 Blog
- upgrading from static web pages to Movable Type Blogging platform

3.02 - 09/16/2004 Misc.
- added Roy Kavin to the Thanks listing
- updated the publisher for Alex Liddell's excellent Madeira book

3.01 - 09/06/2004 Typos
- fixed typos throughout the text
- some minor changes in Recorking

3.00 - 08/29/2004 New Version online
- graphical redesign is still scheduled for the near future

2.993 - 08/28/2004 Types of Wine, vintage
- added Types of Wine chapter
- added new vintage list

2.992 - 08/16/2004 Tips For Tourists and minor things
- new chapter for tourist tips
- some spellings & minor corrections
- one chapter still missing (Types Of Wine)

2.991 - 08/08/2004 New Chapter and minor things
- new chapter on shipping
- minor changes in numerous chapters
- missing pictures in old bottles fixed
- updated email address

2.99 - 06/28/2004 Complete overhaul - almost done!
- numerous changes and updates to almost all chapters
- new chapters and subchapters
- lots of new pictures
- numerous spellings and typos fixed

2.22 - 07/16/2003 New vintage list
- fixed some picture alignment issues
- posted Reidar's new vintage list, thanks Reidar!!!
- fixed broken link and email in introduction

2.21 - 07/15/2003 Numerous small updates and a few new pictures
- added picture captions in all chapters (where needed)
- new pictures in producers shippers & co
- restructured some chapters but there is still some work left
- 1795 mystery chapter is back on-line after rewrite, added pics and renamed the chapter
- added new chapter historic madeira photographs

2.20 - 07/13/2003 Multiple Updates and new pictures
- more pictures added
- information about hand made bottles added in old bottles
- added thanks to Jancis Robinson and MW tags in thanks
- added Jancis Robinson, changed some link descriptions in bibliography
- some small changes in recorking old botttles
- added Alvada in wine types
- added new records, changed and updated existing records in producers shippers & co
- took 1795 mystery chapter off-line for complete rewrite

2.10 - 02/17/2003 Many changes to various chapters
- pictures added to many chapters
- added Wagner to producers, shippers
- added wicker cap to old bottles
- added Jo Ann and Maik to thanks section

2.05 - 02/06/2003 Misc.
- sadly Bob Sequeira passed away, updated the Thanks section
- updated the 1995 Mystery section
- updated the Old Bottles section

2.04 - 12/27/2002 The 1795 Mystery
- added a new chapter The 1795 Mystery

2.03 - 12/20/2002 Corrections
- various typos & corrections in the Old Bottler section

2.02 - 12/15/2002 Broadbent related corrections - thanks!
- added Michael Broadbent's book to bibliography
- added link to Broadbent website
- corrected Broadbent & Justino Henriques in the producers section
- added Broadbent comments in grape varieties section
- corrected colheitas in the types of wine section

2.01 - 12/08/2002 Revision & corrections
- various typos and spelling fixed
- added section on old bottles
- new vintage list

2.00 - 07/10/2002 Second release
- major corrections
- new chapter structure
- translated to English

1.00 - 04/08/2001 First release
- German language

Vintage List

The following list numbers all Madeira Vintages known to me. Vintages with less than twenty years in cask were not mentioned, even though they are offered by many producers. I only included wines with known grape variety or at least a name of some kind (like a vineyard or a brand) and producer or bottling company, for reasons of seriousness. Wines with the name of their transporting vessel are not included. This list can neither be complete, nor will it be able to list every wine that ever existed. Especially with new young vintage wines popping up daily, there is no way of keeping track of all the Madeiras. The wines in this list were offered on auctions, in catalogues, on the island itself and by private sources. Most of these wines I have never tasted nor do I even own them (unfortunately that is...). It's just a listing. If you want to find out if there is a Madeira from your birthday or your mum's or granddaddy's, here is the place to look. It is by far the most complete list available. The wines are sorted by vintage year, grape variety and producer in alphabetical order. The order of the grape varieties is: Sercial, Verdelho, Bual/Boal, Malmsey/Malvasia/Malvazia, Terrantez, Bastardo, Moscate and others.

One more word of caution: Even though I tried to only include bottles that seemed "real" to me, I can of course never rule out the possibility of a fake. With prices for old Madeira wines rising, the number of offered fakes is also rising. As any serious wine collector should know, there is always the possibility of a fake. I have encountered old bottles that had clearly been refilled and recorked, despite being sold as "original". Use your common sense and open up your eyes when buying old Madeira wines. Especially since the Rodenstock-Jefferson case, everyone should take a close look at the bottle you are paying for, no matter where you buy it! The following list offers no waranties or proof whatsoever - you allways collect at your own risk :-)

Twentieth Century
1982 Boal Barbeito

1981 Verdelho Barbeito

1980 Sercial Barros e Sousa
1980 Verdelho Barbeito
1980 Bual ABSL
1980 Malvasia Barros e Sousa
1980 Terrantez Barros e Sousa

1979 Sercial H. M. Borges

1978 Sercial Barbeito
1978 Verdelho Barbeito
1978 Boal Barbeito
1978 Boal D'Oliveira
1978 Malvasia Barbeito
1978 Malmsey Blandy's
1978 Malmsey Leacock's

1977 Boal H. M. Borges
1977 Boal D’Oliveira
1977 Malmsey Cossart Gordon
1977 Terrantez D’Oliveira

1976 Bual Cossart Gordon
1976 Malmsey Blandy’s
1976 Terrantez Blandy’s

1975 Malvasia Barbeito
1975 Malmsey Blandy’s

1974 Sercial Barbeito
1974 Verdelho Blandy’s
1974 Malvasia Barbeito
1974 Terrantez Cossart Gordon

1973 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1973 Verdelho D’Oliveira
1973 Verdelho Leacock’s
1973 Verdelho Miles
1973 Boal D’Oliveira

1972 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1972 Verdelho I.V.M.
1972 Boal I.V.M.
1972 Malvasia Barbeito
1972 Malmsey Blandy’s

1971 Sercial Barbeito
1971 Sercial Blandy’s
1971 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1971 Sercial D’Oliveira
1971 Verdelho Leacock’s
1971 Boal Blandy’s
1971 Boal Cossart Gordon
1971 Malmsey Miles

1970 Sercial D’Oliveira
1970 Verdelho Barbeito
1970 Bual Barbeito
1970 Malvazia Barbeito

1969 Sercial Leacock’s
1969 Sercial Miles
1969 Boal Cossart Gordon
1969 Malmsey Leacock’s
1969 Terrantez Blandy’s
1969 Terrantez Miles
1969 Bastardo Cossart Gordon

1968 Verdelho Blandy’s
1968 Bual Barbeito
1968 Bual Blandy’s
1968 Bual D’Oliveira
1968 Bual Very Old EBH D'Oliveira
1968 Bual Miles

1967 Verdelho Barbeito
1967 Bual Barbeito

1966 Sercial Blandy’s
1966 Verdelho D’Oliveira
1966 Bual Barbeito
1966 Bual Blandy’s
1966 Bual Leacock’s

1965 Verdelho Barbeito
1965 Bual Barbeito
1965 Boal Leacock’s
1965 Malvasia Barbeito
1965 Malmsey Blandy’s
1965 Malmsey Cossart Gordon
1965 Malmsey H & H
1965 Malmsey Leacock’s
1965 Malmsey Lomelino
1965 Malmsey Miles
1965 Malmsey Quinta do Serrado

1964 Bual Barbeito
1964 Boal Blandy’s
1964 Boal Broadbent
1964 Boal CVM/Abudharam
1964 Boal Justino Henriques
1964 Boal Miles
1964 Malvazia Barbeito
1964 Malmsey Blandy’s
1964 Malvazia CVM/Abudarham
1964 Malmsey Justino Henriques
1964 Malmsey Miles

1963 Sercial Leacock’s
1963 Bual Barbeitos
1963 Boal Cossart Gordon

1962 Sercial Blandy’s
1962 Verdelho Barbeito

1961 Sercial Barbeito
1961 Bual Barbeito
1961 Malvazia Barbeito

1960 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1960 Verdelho Barbeito
1960 Bual Barbeito
1960 Boal Blandy’s
1960 Boal H..M. Borges
1960 Boal Miles
1960 Terrantez Blandy’s
1960 Terrantez Leacock’s

1959 Sercial Leacock’s
1959 Sercial Miles
1959 Boal Barbeito
1959 Boal Blandy’s
1959 Malvazia Barbeito

1958 Bual Barbeito
1958 Bual Blandy’s
1958 Boal Cossart Gordon
1958 Malvasia Barbeito

1957 Bual Barbeito
1957 Boal H & H
1957 Boal Miles
1957 Boal Veiga Franca
1957 Old Wine (M+B Blend) D’Oliveira

1956 Sercial Barbeito
1956 Bual Adegas de Torreao
1956 Boal Barbeito
1956 Malvasia M. E. Fernandez

1955 Boal H.M. Borges
1955 Malvazia Barbeito
1955 Terrantez Barbeito
1955 Moscatel Barbeito

1954 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1954 Sercial Miles
1954 Verdelho Broadbent
1954 Verdelho CVM
1954 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1954 Verdelho Justino Henriques
1954 Verdelho Leacock’s
1954 Verdelho Miles
1954 Boal Blandy’s
1954 Bual Cossart Gordon
1954 Boal D'Oliveira
1954 Boal H & H
1954 Bual Lomelino
1954 Malmsey Abudharam
1954 Malvasia Barbeito
1954 Malmsey Blandy’s
1954 Malmsey Cossart Gordon
1954 Malvasia H & H
1954 Terrantez Blandy’s
1954 Terrantez I.V.M.
1954 Terrantez Leacock
1954 Terrantez Power Drury
1954 Bastardo Blandy’s

1953 Bual Barbeito
1953 Malvasia Cossart Gordon
1953 Malmsey D'Oliveira

1952 Verdelho Abudharam
1952 Verdelho Barbeito
1952 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1952 Verdelho Silver Jubilee Leacock
1952 Verdelho Power Drury
1952 Verdelho Rutherford & Miles
1952 Boal Barbeito
1952 Bual Cossart Gordon
1952 Malvasia Barbeito
1952 Malmsey Blandy’s
1952 Malmsey Cossart Gordon
1952 Malmsey Leacock’s
1952 Malmsey Lomelino
1952 Malmsey Rutherford & Miles
1952 Malmsey Shortridge Lawton
1952 Moscatel Barbeito

1951 Sercial Barbeito
1951 Boal Borges
1951 Malvazia Barbeito

1950 Sercial Abudarham
1950 Sercial Barbeito
1950 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1950 Sercial Leacock’s
1950 Sercial Power Drury
1950 Sercial Rutherford & Miles
1950 Boal Barbeito
1950 Boal H..M. Borges
1950 Malvasia Barbeito
1950 Moscatel Julio Barros

1949 Verdelho M. E. Fernandez
1949 Boal H.M. Borges
1949 Malvasia Barbeito

1948 Verdelho Barbeito
1948 Bual Blandy’s
1948 Malvasia Barbeito
1948 Malvasia Quinta do Consalacaoes

1947 Verdelho Barbeito
1947 Verdelho H. M. Borges

1946 Verdelho Barbeito
1946 Verdelho H. M. Borges
1946 Malvasia Barbeito

1945 Verdelho Barbeito
1945 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1945 Bual Solera Cossart Gordon
1945 Malvasia Barbeito

1944 Sercial Blandy’s
1944 Sercial H & H
1944 Verdelho Barbeito
1944 Malvasia Barbeito
1944 Malvasia Quinta de Piedade

1943 Sercial H.M. Borges
1943 Verdelho Barbeito
1943 Boal Barbeito
1943 Malvasia Barbeito

1942 Verdelho Barbeito
1942 Malvasia Barbeito
1942 Malvasia Cossart Gordon

1941 Verdelho Barbeito
1941 Bual Cossart Gordon
1941 Malvasia Barbeito

1940 Sercial Abudarham
1940 Sercial Barbeito
1940 Sercial Blandy’s
1940 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1940 Sercial H. M. Borges
1940 Sercial Justino Henriques
1940 Sercial Leacock
1940 Sercial Miles
1940 Verdelho Barbeito
1940 Verdelho H. M. Borges
1940 Verdelho M. E. Fernandez
1940 Boal Solera Cossart
1940 Terrantez Adegas de Torreao
1940 Sweet Solera H. M. Borges
1940 Reserva Solera Veiga Franca

1939 Sercial Barbeito
1939 Verdelho Blandy’s
1939 Verdelho Barbeito
1939 Malvasia Barbeito
1939 Malvasia Roxa Quinta do Consalacaoes
1939 Terrantez Adegas de Torreao
1939 Calheta ? Blandy’s

1938 Sercial Barbeito
1938 Verdelho Barbeito
1938 Boal Barbeito

1937 Sercial Barbeito
1937 Sercial D’Oliveira
1937 Sercial Leacock’s
1937 Boal H.M. Borges

1936 Sercial Barbeito
1936 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1936 Boal Barbeito
1936 Boal H. M. Borges
1936 Cama de Lobos Blandy’s
1936 Primera Antonio Amaro

1935 Sercial Barbeito
1935 Bual Abudarham
1935 Boal Barbeito
1935 Boal Barros e Sousa
1935 Boal H. M. Borges
1935 Bual Lomelino
1935 Bual Donaldson
1935 Malmsey Donaldson

1934 Sercial Torre Bella Estate
1934 Verdelho Barbeito
1934 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1934 Verdelho Justino Henriques
1934 Verdelho H & H
1934 Verdelho Rutherford & Miles
1934 Boal Abudharam
1934 Bual Blandy’s
1934 Boal CVM
1934 Boal Cossart Gordon
1934 Boal Leacock’s
1934 Bual Lomelino
1934 Boal Rutherford & Miles
1934 Boal Welsh Brothers
1934 Malvasia Barros e Sousa
1934 Malvasia Blandy’s
1934 Malvasia Faja Dos Padres ?
1934 Malmsey Faja Barros e Sousa
1934 Malvasia H & H

1934 S J (Saint John) Leacock

1933 Sercial Barbeito
1933 Bual Blandy’s
1933 Malvazia Barbeito
1933 Malmsey Blandy’s
1933 Malvasia Broadbent
1933 Malvasia Sol. CVM
1933 Malvasia Cossart Gordon
1933 Malvasia Justino Henriques
1933 Malvasia Leacock’s

1932 Verdelho Blandy’s
1932 Boal Adegas de Torreao
1932 Malvasia H. M. Borges

1931 Verdelho Barbeito
1931 Verdelho Blandy’s
1931 Malvazia H.M. Borges

1930 Sercial Solera Veiga Franca
1930 Sercial Barbeito
1930 Boal Barbeito
1930 Boal Solera Cossart Gordon
1930 Bual Torre Bella Estate
1930 Boal Solera Veiga Franca
1930 Malmsey Solera Veiga Franca
1930 Malvazia H.M. Borges

1930 Genuine Rich Adegas Exportadora

1929 Sercial Blend D’Oliveira
1929 Verdelho Barbeito

1928 Sercial Adegas de Torreao
1928 Verdelho Edward Erskine Leacock
1928 Boal Barbeito

1927 Sercial S J Leacock
1927 Boal Island Bottled
1927 Boal Solera Miles
1927 Bastardo Adegas de Torreao
1927 Bastardo D'Oliveira
1927 Bastardo Leacock’s

1926 Verdelho Barbeito
1926 Malmsey Solera Cossart Gordon

1925 Sercial Barbeito
1925 Malvazia H.M. Borges

1924 Sercial Barbeito
1924 Sercial D’Oliveira
1924 Sercial Gran Capela ?
1924 Verdelho Barbeito
1924 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1924 Malmsey Miles

1923 Sercial Barbeito
1923 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1923 Boal Barbeito
1923 Malvazia Barbeito

1922 Sercial H.M. Borges
1922 Bual D’Oliveira
1922 Malvazia H.M. Borges

1921 Boal Barbeito

1920 Bual Abudarham
1920 Boal Barbeito
1920 Boal Blandy’s
1920 Boal H.M. Borges
1920 Boal Cossart Gordon
1920 Boal Favilla Vieira
1920 Bual Lomelino
1920 Bual Rutherford & Miles
1920 Malmsey Cossart Gordon
1920 Malvasia Favilla Vieira
1920 Malmsey Lomelino

1919 Boal Solera Barros e Sousa
1919 Malvazia Barbeito
1919 Malmsey Justino Henriques

1918 Sercial Barbeito
1918 Malvazia Barbeito

1917 Sercial Barbeito
1917 Verdelho Barbeito
1917 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1917 Balthasar Dr. Grabham

1916 Sercial Barbeito
1916 Sercial Rutherford & Miles
1916 Boal Barbeito
1916 Malvasia Barbeito
1916 Malvasia Cossart Gordon

1915 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1915 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1915 Verdelho Solera Cossart Gordon
1915 Bual Cossart Gordon
1915 Bual Lomelino
1915 Bual LMR , Cossart ?
1915 Bual Solera Rutherford & Miles
1915 Boal Taylor (MWA)
1915 Malmsey Cossart Gordon
1915 Malmsey Lomelino
1915 Malmsey Taylor (MWA)

1914 Bual Abudarham
1914 Boal Barbeito
1914 Boal Blandy
1914 Bual Cossart Gordon
1914 Boal Leacock’s
1914 Bual Rutherford & Miles
1914 Malvasia Barbeito
1914 Malvazia Barros e Sousa
1914 Malvasia Solera Barros e Sousa
1914 Malvasia Quinta de Piedade
1914 Terrantez Barros e Sousa

1913 Sercial Barbeito
1913 Verdelho MWA
1913 Malvazia Barbeito

1912 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1912 Verdelho D’Oliveira
1912 Verdelho Solera Candido de Silva
1912 Boal Barbeito
1912 Boal Leacock’s
1912 Boal Quinta de Sao Joao
1912 Malmsey Blandy’s
1912 Malmsey Cossart Gordon

1911 Sercial Barbeito
1911 Bual Blandy’s
1911 Malvazia Torre Bella Estate

1910 Sercial Barbeito
1910 Sercial Blandy’s
1910 Sercial H.M. Borges
1910 Sercial Solera Cossart Gordon
1910 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1910 Sercial D’Oliveira
1910 Sercial Leacock’s
1910 Boal Barbeito
1910 Boal H.M. Borges
1910 Boal Companhia Regional
1910 Bual Cossart Gordon
1910 Bual Lomelino
1910 Malmsey Blandy’s
1910 Malvazia H.M. Borges
1910 Malmsey Lomelino

1909 Sercial Barbeito
1909 Malvazia Barbeito

1908 Sercial Barbeito
1908 Bual Cossart Gordon
1908 Bual D’Oliveira
1908 Bual Blandy’s
1908 Bual Lomelino
1908 Malmsey Blandy’s
1908 Malmsey Companhia Regional

1907 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1907 Boal Blandy’s
1907 Bual Solera CVL
1907 Bual H&H
1907 Bual Solera H&H
1907 Boal Solera Antonio Henriques
1907 Malmsey H.M. Borges
1907 Malvasia D’Oliveira
1907 Malvasia Roxa Quinta do Consalacaoes

1906 Malmsey Abudarham
1096 Malmsey Blandy
1906 Malvasia Cossart Gordon
1906 Malvasia Leacock’s
1906 Malvasia Funchal Wine Co.
1906 Malvasia Leacock’s
1906 Malvasia Lomelino
1906 Malvasia Roxa Quinta do Consalacaoes
1906 Malvasia Oscar Acciaioly
1906 Malvasia Welsh

1905 Sercial Abudarham
1905 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1905 Sercial Leacock’s
1905 Verdelho D’Oliveira
1905 Verdelho Torre Bella, Fairlie
1905 Boal Izidro Goncalves
1905 Terrantez Barros e Sousa
1905 Terrantez Blandy
1905 Moscatel Luiz Filipe Costa

1904 Verdelho Torre Bella Estate
1904 Malmsey Cossart Gordon
1904 Malvasia Barbeito
1904 Malvasia MWC

1903 Bual D’Oliveira
1903 Rainwater Solera Taster SA

1902 Verdelho Barbeito
1902 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1902 Malmsey Blandy’s
1902 Malmsey Power Drury
1902 Moscatel Roxas Island Bottled

1901 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1901 Malvasia Adegas de Torreao
1901 Malvasia Barbeito
1901 Malmsey Rutherford & Miles

1900 Verdelho H.M. Borges
1900 Verdelho Blandy’s
1900 Verdelho D’Oliveira
1900 Boal Adegas de Torreao
1900 Boal F.F. Ferraz
1900 Bual Manuel de Sousa
1900 Malmsey Adega Exportadora
1900 Malvasia Adegas de Torreao
1900 Malvasia Barbeito
1900 Malvasia D’Oliveira
1900 Malvazia (Leacock Collection)
1900 Malmsey Rutherford & Miles
1900 Malvasia Solera H & H ( Century )
1900 Malmsey Solera A E Henriques
1900 Moscatel D’Oliveira
1900 Moscatel Leacock’s
1900 Moscatel MWC
1900 Moscatel Power Drury
1900 Moscatel Shortridge

Nineteenth Century
1899 Terrantez AO-SM
1899 Terrantez Barbeito
1899 Terrantez Blandy’s
1899 Terrantez H.M. Borges
1899 Terrantez Cossart Gordon
1899 Terrantez Leacock’s
1899 Terrantez Lomelino
1899 Terrantez MWC
1899 Terrantez Welsh

1898 Sercial Barbeito
1898 Sercial Blandy’s
1898 Sercial Solera CVL
1898 Sercial Solera H & H
1898 Verdelho Barbeito
1898 Verdelho Blandy’s *
1898 Verdelho Solera Casa dos Vinhos
1898 Verdelho H&H
1898 Verdelho Solera H&H
1898 Bual Solera CVL
1898 Boal Solera H & H
1898 Malvasia Barbeito
1898 Terrantez Cossart Gordon
1898 Cama de Lobos Island Bottled

1897 Bual Lomelino
1897 Boal Barbeito
1896 Boal H. M. Borges
1897 Boal Quinta do Serrado
1897 Boal Taylor (MWA)
1897 Malmsey Lomelino
1897 Malvasia Taylor (MWA)

1896 HFS E (Leacock Collection)

1895 Verdelho Araujo de Barros Fam.
1895 Bual Barbeito
1895 Bual Cossart Gordon
1895 Malvasia D’Oliveira
1895 Malvasia H. M. Borges
1895 Moscatel Cossart Gordon
1895 HFS JPW D'Oliveira

1894 Bual Rutherford & Miles
1894 Malmsey Solera H & H

1893 Verdelho Blandy’s *
1893 Malmsey Blandy’s
1893 Malmsey Cossart Gordon

1892 Sercial Barbeito
1892 Sercial Blandy’s
1892 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1892 Sercial Leacock’s
1892 Verdelho Barros

1891 Sercial Araujo de Barros Fam.
1891 Bual Blandy’s *
1891 Cama d. Lobos (Boal) Dr. Grabham

1890 Sercial Solera H.M. Borges
1890 Sercial J. Henriques
1890 Sercial Leacock
1890 Sercial Lomelino
1890 Verdelho D’Oliveira
1890 Boal Barros e Sousa
1890 Malmsey Solera Barbeito
1890 Malvazia Island Bottled
1890 Malvasia Justino Henriques
1890 Malvazia Dr. Manuel Jose Vieira
1890 Moscat Barros e Sousa
1890 Presidente ? J. J. de Menezes

1889 Verdelho Barbeito

1888 Verdelho Torre Bella
1888 Boal Solera Justino Henriques

1887 Verdelho Solera H&H
1887 Verdelho Torre Bella, Sao Filipe
1887 Boal H&H
1887 Lomelino Old Malmsey

1886/87 Terrantez Blandy's

1886 Malmsey Blandy’s
1886 Malvazia Barbeito

1885 Sercial Blandy’s
1885 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1885 Sercial MWA
1885 Verdelho Barbeito
1885 Malmsey Blandy’s *
1885 Malvazia Barbeito

1884 Campanario Avery's

1883 Bual Oscar Acciaioly
1883 Tinta Blandy’s

1882 Verdelho Anibal D’Oliveira
1882 Verdelho Blandy’s
1882 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1882 Verdelho MWC
1882 Verdelho Welsh
1882 Bual Blandy’s *
1882 Boal Lomelino

1881 Terrantez (Leacock Collection)

1880 Sercial Veiga Franca
1880 Verdelho Solera Blandy’s
1880 Verdelho Torre Bella
1880 Verdelho Solera H.M. Borges
1880 Boal PJL Barros e Sousa
1880 Malmsey Blandy’s *
1880 Malvasia Solera H.M. Borges
1880 Malvasia Cossart Gordon
1880 Malmsey Solera CVM
1880 Malmsey CVM
1880 Malmsey Justinos
1880 Malmsey Solera Justino Henriques
1880 Terrantez D’Oliveira

1879 Sercial Justino Henriques
1879 Verdelho Torre Bella
1879 Verdelho Santo Antonio

1878 Sercial Solera H&H
1878 Verdelho Solera H&H
1878 Verdelho Torre Bella Estate
1878 Boal Christopher’s
1878 Bual Solera Rutherford & Miles
1878 Boal Shortridge Lawton
1878 Bual Solera Wine Society
1878 Fanal Justino's

1877 Sercial Blandy’s
1877 Sercial Peteresens
1877 Verdelho Torre Bella Estate
1877 Terrantez H. M. Borges

1875 Sercial Blandy’s
1875 Sercial D’Oliveira
1875 Malvasia Barbeito
1875 Malvasia D’Oliveira
1875 Malvasia H&H
1875 Malvasia Roxa Quinta do Consalacaoes
1875 Bastardo Cossart Gordon
1875 Bastardo Shortridge Lawton
1875 Bastardo Welsh Brothers
1875 Moscatel D’Oliveira

1874 Sercial Uniao Vinicola
1874 Malvasia Wine Society
1874 Malvazia Barbeito
1874 Malmsey Blandy’s

1873 Boal Barbeito

1872 Boal Shortridge Lawton
1872 Terrantez Barbeito
1872 Terrantez Quinta do Serrado

1870 Sercial Solera Blandy’s
1870 Sercial Da Silva
1870 Sercial Caves da Casa da Calcada
1870 Sercial Donaldson
1870 Sercial Solera Lomelino
1870 Sercial Taylor (MWA)
1870 Verdelho Solera Blandy’s
1870 Verdelho Solera Rutherford & Miles
1870 Boal Barbeito
1870 Boal Blandy’s *
1870 Boal Solera Lomelino
1870 Boal J. R. Teixera
1870 Malmsey Barbeito
1870 Malvazia Caves da Casa da Calcada
1870 Malmsey Companhia Regional
1870 Terrantez Adegas de Torreao
1870 Terrantez Blandy’s
1870 Terrantez F.R.G.
1870 Terrantez J. R. Teixera
1870 Bastardo Blandy’s

1869 Bual Blandy’s
1869 Malmsey Badmington House
1869 Malmsey Christie’s
1869 Malvazia (Leacock Collection)

1868 Boal Blandy
1868 Boal “EBH” Cossart Gordon
1868 Malvasia Blandy’s
1868 Malmsey Cossart Gordon

1867 Boal Blandy’s
1867 Camara De Lobos Cossart Gordon *

1866 Sercial Solera Blandy

1865 Boal Solera Luiz Gomez
1865 Royal Boal Reserve Luiz Gomez
1865 Malvasia Cossart Gordon
1865 Malmsey Island Bottled
1865 Solera Cossart Gordon
1865 Tinta Miles

1864 Sercial Blandy’s *
1864 Sercial H&H
1864 Sercial Cama d Lobos Dr. Jochim Henrique
1864 Bual Blandy’s
1864 Bual Cossart Gordon
1864 Boal Solera Miles
1864 Cama de Lobos Sol. Blandy’s

1863 Boal Abudarham
1863 Bual Barbeito
1863 Boal Blandy’s
1863 Boal Cossart Gordon
1863 Bual Leacock’s
1863 Bual Lomelino
1863 Boal J. R. Teixera
1863 Malmsey Solera Berry Bros and Rudd
1863 Malvasia Solera Blandy’s
1863 Malmsey Solera Leacock’s
1863 Malvasia Solera Miles

1862 Sercial D’Oliveira
1862 Boal Barbeito
1862 Malvasia Blandy’s
1862 Malmsey Cossart Gordon *
1862 Malmsey Solera Lomelino
1862 Terrantez Avery’s
1862 Terrantez H. M. Borges
1862 Terrantez Leacock’s
1862 Terrantez Rutherford & Miles

1861 Boal Shortridge Lawton

1860 Sercial Solera Abudarham
1860 Sercial Avery’s
1860 Sercial Solera Blandy’s
1860 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1860 Sercial Solera Cossart Gordon
1860 Sercial Solera Funchal Wine Co.
1860 Sercial Solera Leacock’s
1860 Sercial Solera Miles
1860 Boal Blandy’s
1860 Boal Companhia Regional
1860 Boal Madeira Wine Co.
1860 Malmsey Veiga Franca
1860 Terrantez Barbeito

1858 Verdelho Cossart Gordon *
1858 Verdelho H&H

1856 Boal Barbeito
1856 Boal Leacock’s
1856 Moscatel Barbeito

1853 Malvasia Solera Lomelino

1851 Verdelho Solera Berry Bros & Rudd
1851 Boal Solera FWC
1851 Bual Cossart Gordon *
1851 Bual Solera Blandy Brothers

1850 Sercial Solera Miles
1850 Sercial Solera H.M. Borges
1850 Verdelho Barbeito
1850 Verdelho Cossart Gordon *
1850 Verdelho CVM
1850 Verdelho D’Oliveira
1850 Boal Barbeito

1849 Verdelho Miles
1849 Bual Shortridge Lawton

1848 Sercial Leacock
1848 Verdelho unknown producer
1848 Bual J.H. & J. Brooke
1848 Old Bual Solera Christopher’s
1848 Boal (W.S.) H&H ?
1848 Bual Solera Rutherford and Miles
1848 Madeira Yeo. Ratcliffe & Dawe

1847 Boal Shortridge Lawton

1846 Verdelho Avery’s
1846 Terrantez Avery's
1846 Terrantez Blandy’s
1846 Terrantez Cossart Gordon
1846 Terrantez H. M. Borges
1846 Terrantez Leacock
1846 Campanario Blandy’s

1845 Boal Solera Blandy’s
1845 Boal Solera Cossart Gordon
1845 Boal Cossart Goardon
1845 Quinta da Paz (Leacock Collection)

1844 Madeira Solera Cossart Gordon

1842 Sercial Cossart Gordon *
1842 Terrantez based Sol. Cossart Gordon

1841 Terrantez Lomelino

1840 Boal Hatch Mansfield
1840 Terrantez Perestrello

1839 Sercial Solera Luiz Gomez
1839 Verdelho Acciaioly
1839 Malvasia, Faja Blandy’s

1838 Verdelho Dr. Grabham

1837 Verdelho Barbeito
1837 Bual Oscar Acciaioly
1837 Boal Barbeito
1837 Terrantez Barbeito
1837 Cama de Lobos Sao Vicente da Silva

1836 Sercial Cossart Gordon
1836 Verdelho Oscar Acciaioly
1836 Verdelho Island Bottled
1836 Malmsey Oscar Acciaioly
1836 Terrantez Oscar Acciaioly
1836 Bastardo TTC Lomelino

1835 Sercial Solera MWA
1835 Sercial Solera Blandy’s
1835 Bual Serrado
1835 Malmsey Solera Lomelino
1835 Imperial Nicolas

1834 Verdelho Barbeito
1834 Malvasia Barbeito
1834 Terrantez Barbeito
1834 Terrantez Blandy’s
1834 IR J. C. A. & C.

1832 Terrantez Oscar Acciaioly

1830 Sercial Solera Justino Henriques
1830 Malmsey A. E. Henriques
1830 Malmsey Quinta do Serrado
1830 Malmsey H&H
1830 Malmsey Barbeito
1830 Malmsey Harvey’s

1828 Boal Kassab
1828 Boal Solera Blandy's

1827 Boal A. E. Henriques
1827 Boal Quinta do Serrado
1827 Boal H&H
1827 Boal Barbeito

1826 Bual Solera Avery’s
1826 Bual Solera Blandy’s
1826 Malvasia Solera MWA

1825 Sercial Island Bottled
1825 Sercial Kassab
1825 Verdelho Shortridge Lawton
1825 Bual Solera Lomelino
1825 Boal Lomelino
1825 Madeira Seco (Leacock Collection)
1825 Reserve Freitas & Irmao

1822 Verdelho Avery’s
1822 Verdelho Cossart Gordon
1822 Verdelho Solera Blandy’s
1822 Bual Cossart Gordon
1822 Bual Solera Cossart Gordon
1822 Malvazia Barbeito

1820 Sercial H.M. Borges
1820 Sercial Velho Julio A. Cunha
1820 Boal Christopher's
1820 Bual Justerini & Brooks
1820 Boal Lomelino
1820 Boal Solera Lomelino
1820 Cama de Lobos Power Drury

1818 Malmsey Solera Miles
1818 Malmsey Vanderpoel

1816 Sercial Grabham Solera Blandy's

1815 S “Sercial” Island bottled
1815 Boal Blandy's
1815 Boal Lomelino
1815 Bual Solera Cossart Gordon
1815 Bual Solera Waterloo
1815 Reserva Manoel Marques
1815 Reserva Solera Saccone & Speed

1814 Verdelho Rutherford & Miles

1811 Boal Solera Blandy’s
1811 Bual Solera Brabham
1811 Malvasia Candida P. W.
1811 Malvazia JNV ( ? )

1808 Malvasia Solera Cossart Gordon
1808 Malmsey Solera Blandy’s
1808 Malmsey Solera Leacock’s
1808 Malmsey Leacock’s

1806 Malmsey Leacock’s

1805 Verdelho Blandy’s

1803 Sercial Island Bottled

1802 Verdelho Barbeito
1802 Boal Barbeito
1802 Terrantez Oscar Acciaioly

1800 Verdelho Borges

Eighteenth Century
1798 Terrantez Barbeito

1795 Sercial RT
1795 Terrantez Barbeito
1795 Terrantez Borges?
1795 Terrantez Companhia Vinicola
1795 Terrantez Cossart Gordon?
1795 Terrantez D'Oliveira?
1795 Terrantez Lomelino
1795 Messias F. F. Ferraz (prob. same like Terrantez)
1795 Terrantez F. F. Ferraz
1795 Terrantez SSMA
1795 Moscatel Velhissimo J. C. A. & C.

1793 Malmsey CVM
1793 Moscatel Barbeito?
1793 Moscatel J. C. A. & C.

1792 Malmsey H & H
1792 Madeira Solera Blandy’s
1792 Madeira Extra Reserv. Solera Blandy's

1790 Terrantez H.M. Borges
1790 Moscatel

1789 Sercial RT
1789 Verdelho Island Bottled
1789 Terrantez Barbeitos
1789 Cama de Lobos Avery’s

1780 Boal Borges Family Reserve

1760 Terrantez Borges Family Reserve

1748 Verdelho Solera Justino Henriques

1720 Pather Borges Family Reserve

1715 Terrantez J. C. A. & C.
1715 Moscatel Solera (unknown producer)

? indicates rermaining doubt


This guide would not have come into existence without the help of many people, trips to the island help from the producers and shippers and other sources and institutions (and some sips of Madeira wine too).

I wish to thank my wife Katrin and my four kids Hans, Georg, Wilhelm and Elisabeth for their huge patience with this ongoing project.

I am indebted to the Madeira wine producing companies on the island in general and especially to the following people (in no particular order): Ricardo de Freitas, Americo Pereira and Marianna Pinto of Vinhos Barbeito Lda.; Arturo and Edmundo Olim of Artur de Barros e Sousa Lda.; Dr. Helena Borges of H. M. Borges Sucrs. Lda.; Luís d’Oliveira of Pereira d’Oliveira Vinhos Lda.; John Cossart (†) and Humberto Jardim of Henriques & Henriques Vinhos; Sigfredo da Costa Campos (†) and his lovely wife Helena, Juan Teixeira and Julio Fernandes of Vinhos Justino Henriques Filhos Lda.; Della Maddison, Francisco Albuquerque, Ricardo Tavares, Jaques A. Faro da Silva, Felipe and Rita of the Madeira Wine Company S. A.; Paulo Rodrigues of the IVBAM and Matthias Meichsner of the AICEP.

An extra thank you goes to (in no particular order) Dr. Bob Sequeira (†) who gave me a copy of the book "A Madeira Party" by Silas Weir Mitchell, to Reidar Andersen for numerous pricelists, pictures, a lot of updating work with the vintage list and a never ending flow of extra information, to Maik Göbel for feedback, pictures and information, to Eleni Camperos for the friendly permission to use her scan of the California Madeira label, to Jo Ann Teague for her friendly permission to use her scan of an old Madeira wine bottle, to Bartholomew Broadbent and Michael Broadbent MW for substantial feedback, to Patrick Grubb MW for help with the 1795 vintages, to Alex Liddell for a wealth of information especially about the 1795 Terrantez vintages, to Jancis Robinson MW for feedback and access to her purple pages (see bibliography), to Prof. Alberto Vieira for help with mysterious seals and labels, to Jaanus Andresson, to Anders G. Åkesson, Sam Chafe, Craig McManus, Spencer Sokale, Dany, Micum MacIntyre, Jorge Morais, Michael Pronay, Richard Jennings, Danny Younis, Werner Braun for the beautiful scan of the wine landing, Bernt Danielsson from Världens Viner, Brian Gobran for pictures and new wines for the vintage list, Laura Maciera for pictures, Mike from Hawaii, Carlos, Klas Neimark, Pete Parsons, Rhett Baines, Philip Lawrence, Karen Lines, Roman Polaski, Roy Kavin, Frank Papenbrook for additional information, Andreas Platt for addings to the wine list and lots of information, George Gilham for lots of information about Madeira wine in general and especially for all his shared knowledge of wine labels, to Roy Hersh for his wonderful website about Port and Madeira and the fantastic 2007 Seattle Madeira tasting, to Mary-Katherine Meyer for revising and proofreading early versions of this publication and to Alison Butler for doing the same with the more recent versions. Last but not least a big thank you goes to my brother Hans Reutter who made the online version of this Madeira wine guide possible.

Geography and Society

Madeira is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1100km southwest of Portugal and 500km west of the North African town of Casablanca. Its exact nautical position is 32°45' north and 17°00' west. The archipelago consists of the inhabited islands Madeira, with the capital Funchal, and Porto Santo. The uninhabited Ilhas Desertas and Ilhas Selvagens also belong to the archipelago that is a total of 800 square kilometers. The island of Madeira is 55km long and 22km wide stretched in a west-east direction and resembles the peak of a 4000m high underwater volcano. The highest point of the mountainous main-island is Pico Ruivo, 1861m. The climate is very moderate; the main wind direction is from northeast featuring the trade winds for about 10 months of the year. The yearly average temperature lies between 16 and 22°C in Funchal. Main rainfall is in autumn and spring. Geologically Madeira consists of basalt and tufa, which are also the main ingredients in the volcanic soil of the vineyards. Madeira means wood in Portuguese and the island has been named so because of its many trees. The population of the archipelago was 275,000 in the mid 90’s, 270.000 living on the main island and 5000 on Porto Santo. Many young inhabitants of Madeira emigrate from the island, but most of these come back to spend their old age in the warm climate. Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal with its own legislature. Besides Portuguese, English is spoken and understood by many inhabitants because of the British past. Since the declaration of the new constitution in 1976, the government most of the time has been run by the Socialdemocratic party.

Magdalena Do Mar

Magdalena Do Mar

The economy of Madeira is based on agriculture, wine, fishing and tourism. Tourism has become more important over the last few years. Because of the growing number of visitors some traditional industries like wickerwork and embroidery employ more workers. With the help of funds from the European community the infrastructure is being improved. This includes highways, especially the Via Rapida along the south side of the island, and the expansion of the islands airport at Santa Cruz with its new runway standing on 173 huge concrete poles. Even though the island has quite a remote location, Madeira is very present on the Internet, offering lots of information for tourists and wine-enthusiasts. At the EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany, Madeira was one of the featured examples for a modern Internet-based community network.


For every wine enthusiast there comes a time when he or she comes across the so-called fortified wines. Those wines are Port, Sherry, Madeira, Malaga, Marsala and others. Many of those wines are nowadays out of fashion, since they are regarded as too heavy, or too sweet. But the fascination still remains for some people...

The first time I came across Madeira wine was when I visited the island in 1995. I became "hooked" immediately and more visits followed. My interest in Madeira wine grew, but at that time, there was little information available. So I wrote up my own "book" and added more - every time I found another piece of information. And that is the story of this little collection of facts about Madeira wine. There is no commercial interest in this whatsoever, but I request the copyright for these pages. Any citation or reproduction by whatever means requires the written consent of the author.

Disclaimer: use any of this information at your own risk! No guarantees, warranties etc. implied or inferred! By reading this or anything else on this website, you agree to the terms set forth in the legal section of this website at

All those who are really interested in getting into detail about Madeira are advised to read the excellent book by Alex Liddell. More information is available in the bibliography section.

Comments, complaints and more to: (remove the NOSPAM and PLEASE parts!). Enjoy!

Dr. Wolf Peter Reutter