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    Madeira Wine

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    Joel Fulleda

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    The history of Madeira

    The history of the wine of Madeira Island begins with the discovery of the island, located north of the Canary Islands, in 1418. Madeira Island in Portuguese it means "wood" and the name is due to the impenetrable forest that covered the island. The discoverers opened gaps by setting fire to the forest, which was soon almost completely devoured, leaving an excellent substrate of ash, suitable for the cultivation of screw, of the XNUMX/XNUMX cup sugar and banana. There winemaking it was first undertaken on the island in 1489 dai Jesuits, who built the convent of Santa Chiara here, in the center of the capital of the island Funchal. It was they who imported the first rooted cuttings from Crete Malvasia, vine known here today as Malmsey, very suitable for sweet wines thanks to its high sugar residue and aromatic endowment. Even today this vine is the most cultivated on the island and gives the most consumed wine, in its dry and variants Dolce.

    Soon they imported from Portugal other white grape varieties, such as Sercial and Verdelho, which gave excellent results here, thanks also to the volcanic soil of the island. The need to export local wine to Europe or the Americas led to the introduction of the fortification, so it was that the Madeira Island became a wine fortified, also called "vwheel wheel"Or" return wine ", because his aging it took place in the holds of ships crossing the ocean, returning to the port of origin and some of the wine sometimes remained unsold and returned to Madeira Island. It was thus realized that the wine was earning in complexity in remaining in the holds, in contact with humidity and heat, for the period necessary for the crossing and return.

    It was decided to market the Madeira Island aged in this way in Europe and such was the success of this type of aging that this procedure was also implemented for rhum, with the birth of the Navy Rhum. The golden age for the Madeira Island it was the 18th century, while the following one will see some misfortunes hit the island's crops, starting from 1851, when an infection of powdery mildew greatly reduced production, following the beginning of 1900 from fillossera, arrived here on ships from America. Production collapsed and many vineyards were converted into sugar cane plantations. Prohibition and the Russian revolution will definitely wipe out the myth of Madeira Island, eliminating its two main markets in one fell swoop. The Madeira Island became confined to use as a cooking wine, as evidenced by birth in France area of Sauce Madere in the early 1900s.

    Madeira production

    The producers of Madeira Island they soon understood that the secret of the aging of the wine was due to the jump in temperature which he was subjected to during his travels. In the holds of ships, wine suffered from the heat and humidity of the day, the cold in the night, gaining its inimitable character. For reproduce on land these conditions, it was decided to place the barrels under the roofs of cellars in summer and in basements in winter. Even today for the typology more valuable than wine, such as Harvest e Vintage, this aging system is used. On the Labels of these products the additional mention "Flowerbed”Which excludes the use of any artificial heat source. The cost of this method is quite high, taking into account that it has to last for at least 20 years. Instead for the production of base wines, with aging varying from 5 to 10 years and obtained from the black grape variety Black Ink Mole, it was decided to use stoves (stoves) to heat the wine. The wine stops in the stoves in steel to 90 days and is heated several times up to 55-60 °C (77°F), just above the temperature usually reached on humid summer days. In this way the wine loses its red color, that becomes amber. The wine treated in this way then rests in barrels for a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 10 years, developing the characteristic oxidized scents. The process ofstuffing has two different methodologies. The first is known as "Heat Tank”And is the cheapest, with steel tanks heated externally by coils with hot water. The second is the "Heat storage”, Which sees the barrels closed inside a room specially designed for this function, for a period of six months to a year.

    The grape varieties of Madeira

    Il black grape variety more cultivated a Madeira Island and the Black Ink Mole, a cross between Pinot Noir e Grenache, which is used in purity for the production of most generic wines or as blending for some reserves of White wines. THE white grape varieties are used only for the production of high-end wine and there are four. The Sercial it is a vine aromatic which is grown in the highest terraces, which guarantee the greatest temperature variations, to develop its best scents. The Verdelho it is grown slightly below the previous one and is distinguished from this above all by the slightly higher sugar content. There Malvasia instead it is cultivated almost everywhere, but above all in the terraces by the ocean. The BoalFinally, it is a native vine of the island, with mysterious origins. THE first two vines are used for the production of Dry wood, while the latter are used for semi-dry and sweet wines. Finally, a special mention deserves the Terrantez, a vine in danger of extinction due to its low productivity and high sensitivity to diseases, which however has exceptional qualities of finesse. No more than 500 are produced on the island bottles di Madeira Island year with this rare vine. Two centuries old vintages of this rare product can still be found at some producers.

    The classification of Madeira

    La Madeira classification provides well seven types distinct.

    • Il Rainwater it is a wine with 3 years of cask, normally from Black Ink Mole, suitable for use in the kitchen.
    • Il Finest it is a wine with 3 years in cask and a passage in estufa, normally from Black Ink Mole, suitable for use in the kitchen.
    • Il Book a Session is a wine with 5 years barrel, the minimum aging to be regulated, normally from Black Ink Mole.
    • Lo Special Reserve is a wine with 10 years barrel, often obtained from Black Ink Mole, with percentages lower than 20% of other noble white grape varieties described above.
    • THEExtra Reserve is a fine wine with 15 years of barrel, produced with Black Ink Mole and variable percentages of other noble grape varieties.
    • I Harvest are wines from a single vintage and often of a single grape variety, which is declared on the label. The wine ages for a variable period from 10 to 20 years, without using heat.
    • Il Flask, also called Vintage, it must be aged at least 20 years without the use of heat and must come from a single vine. The vintage is declared on the label.

    Wines with aging from 5 to 15 years they must also indicate theirs sugar content, so on the label we will find Dry (dry), Medium dry (bitten), Half sweet (lovely) is sweet (sweet).

    Pairings from Madeira

    I Dried Madeira they are great appetizers and also accompany elaborate and rich fish preparations structure, able to cope with the alcoholic strength and the persistence some wine. The local omelettes with swordfish roe called "Fish roe", The"octopus alla madeirense"And the"esadas”, Tasty fish skewers, are dishes that can be paired with these robust wines, which should be drunk very fresh. The Sercial it could also be combined with a tuna sushi, Or to smoked swordfish. Madeira escalopes I'm a dish famous of our kitchen. In France instead the Madeira Island is used to make a sauce, the Sauce Madere, with shallots and XNUMX/XNUMX cup salted butter, suitable to accompany veal and offal. THE Madeira sweets they are best accompanied by dry pastries or with cheese blue-veined with a loving tendency, such as the Cabrales Spanish or the Roquefort French. On the island the classic combination of Malvasia is with the "cane cake”, A dark cake made with molasses, concentrated sugar cane syrup.

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