Madeira Wine Company is located in Funchal Madeira and it’s a great place to start your visit on the island. Because let’s face it – there’s nothing more “Madeira” than their wine. Join us as we visit the Madeira Wine Company for a tour and tasting.
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Madeira Wine – A brief introduction
So what’s so special about Madeira wine, you might ask. Well, first of all, its a lot stronger than “regular” wine. Second, they add alcohol to the wine to make it stronger. And now, Madeira is noted for its unique winemaking process which involves oxidizing the wine through heat and aging. This wine is not a new invention (on the contrary), it has been around since the 15th century. In the beginning, they added the Brandy so that the wine wouldn’t spoil while being transported over the sea.
The barrels got heated by the sun and aged well. To this day, the Madeira wine is aging really well in the bottles and it just becomes better with age. Madeira wine has a range from sweet to dry and is often paired with desserts. There are several tastes in the wine but most will have the flavors of Caramel, Walnut Oil, Peach, Hazelnut, Orange Peel, and Burnt Sugar.
To be a madeira wine – the wine needs to be fortified and oxidised for the color and flavour. However, they don’t use the word oxidised since it does not have a positiv ring to it!
Madeira Wine Company – History
In 1811 the Blandy’s company was established by John Blandy. In 1836, he bought the building where the museum and tastings are offered to this day. It’s impressive to hear that this place has been a wine lodge since then. At Blandy’s, they reuse their barrels (made of American Oak). They have tried different types of woods but they have come to the conclusion that the American Oak is the best for the simple reason that it allows the wine to breathe.
In 2011, the Blandy’s company bought all the other Madeira winemaking companies. The name for all of them became “Madeira Wine Company”. There’s a rich and interesting story about the wine-making and the building but instead of sharing all of the information here – we urge you to check the place out by yourselves and leave it at that!
The angels drink Madeira wine
The music, the people, the smells – everything is perfect at the Madeira wine company. Compared to the world-famous Port wine, the Madeira wine is stored in the attic instead of a cellar. And during the production of the Maderia wine, the wine is evaporating while it’s being stored in barrels. The evaporation was not considered being that – they had a theory that it was the angels, drinking the wine.
Inside the Madeira Wine Company, there are 700 000 liters of wine. They also have four million liters of stock and their Blandy’s wine makes one million liters per year. That means that they have to buy a lot of grapes. 70 percent of the wine goes to export and 30 percent stays in Madeira.
Once you open a bottle, you can drink it for the next year, without the wine going bad.
Guided tour of the Wine Company
There are several different options to choose from when visiting the Madeira Wine Company. And there are also different options if you don’t want the guided tour – just the tastings. You don’t need to make reservations but be prepared to wait for a while when you arrive. If you want, you can order a glass of Madeira wine and just relax.
Here are the different tours that you can choose from:
- Premium Lodge Tour – 9,50 euros per person.
- Lodge tour – 6,50 euros per person.
- Vintage tour – 19,80 euros per person.
- Premium + Vintage Tour – 24,30 euros per person.
Premium Lodge Tour at the Madeira Wine Company
We got to join the Premium Lodge Tour (which includes a tasting after the tour). It’s a really informative tour and we learned a lot about Madeira wine and about the company. There are a lot of signs with information in English where you can get even more information. At the same time, the guides that are working here are great and will give you all the information that you might need.
Sometimes, tours like this tend to become a bit stiff and “boring” after a while. A lot of information is crammed into the tour and it’s all hard to take in. However, at the Madeira Wine Company, the whole tour is interesting and you never get bored. You learn about history, get to see some old tools and then you get to see the wine being stored in barrels. The smell is really nice but at the same time special when you enter the rooms with the barrels.
Madeira wine tasting in Funchal, Madeira
If you choose the premium tour, you get to try two different types of Madeira wine. I’m not sure if they change the wines that are included in the tour but we got to try Blandy’s Verdelho (aged five years) and Blandy’s Malmsey, Harvest 2012. They are both good and have totally different tastes.
- Verdelho 5 years old. Medium dry 19%. Clear, topaz color with a golden rim. The complex nose will reveal a fresh bouquet with raisins, dried fruits, wood and, spices. Food pairing: Excellent aperitive, a good accompaniment of consommes game and pates.
- Malmsey 2012. Rich 19%. Amber medium-dark color with a golden green reflection and a slow teardrop. With a characteristic Madeira bouquet of dry and candied fruits, fine tea with old Brandy notes and vanilla. It’s sweet with a full rich and smooth taste, It also has a long and fresh aftertaste with some notes of honey and wood. Food pairing: Excellent with dessert, honeycake, and cheeses.
Also make sure to check out the small museum with all the information and important dates for the company while visiting.
Information about the Madeira Wine Company
Address: 9000-059 Funchal, Madeira.
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00 – 13:30 and 14:30 – 18:30. Saturday: 10:00 – 13:00. Sundays closed.
Website of the Madeira Wine Company.