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I spent the past week drinking Madeira wines and I am still licking my lips. If you have not had Madeira, it is time to try it. It is not like any other wine you have ever had. And that is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Madeira is a fortified wine, in which a neutral grape spirit is added. But, Madeira is also heated and oxidized, two things that we are always taught should never be done to wine. But, Madeira is the result of a centuries-old history. In the 1600s and 1700s, the wine was fortified in order to survive traveling on the sea. As the ships sailed through the tropics, the wine would be heated and cooled repeatedly, as well as exposed to oxygen. And that is how Madeira came to be.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Last week, I wrote about how Madeira excites the palate, but that many of the tourists that visit Madeira do not even know that Madeira wine is one of the main products produced on the island.
Madeira wine has been produced on the island since the 15th century, and today there are approximately 2000 grape growers but only eight producers on the island. On my recent first trip to Madeira, I visited four of the producers and wanted to share a bit about my visits. When a product is named after the island itself, I think everyone should know about it. Blandy’s Madeira Wine Company
John Blandy founded Blandy’s Madeira Wine in 1811, and in 1840, his son, Charles Ridpath Blandy, purchased The Blandy Wine Lodges in Funchal, the main city in Madeira. Today, the company is run by Michael and Chris Blandy, members of the sixth and seventh generations. Through recent purchases, the Blandy’s own three properties on the island, for a total of seven hectares, producing white grapes only. In addition, they work with 400 growers on the island for a total of 450 hectares.