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Iberian Regions

Madeira

Madeira is a fortified wine that is produced on the island that bears the same name. The island of Madeira is the largest (35 miles long by 14 miles wide) of three small, subtropical, volcanic islands located it the Atlantic about 500 miles southwest of Portugal. The 280 square mile island is divided in half by a range of steep mountains. Madeira is lush with green vegetation from the high humidity and mild seasons. When the Portuguese explorers discovered the islands in 1419, they named them 'Madeira' meaning 'wood' or 'timber' due to the beautiful dense forests on the islands.

Adding vinous alcohol to the grape must during the fermentation process will stop the conversion of the grape?s natural sugar to alcohol. The point during the fermentation when the vinous alcohol is added determines which of the four basic styles of Madeira will be produced. Sweet Madeira is produced by fortifying the wine earlier in its fermentation period, thus retaining more of the grape?s natural sugar. Dryer Madeira is produced by fortifying later in the fermentation period, thereby allowing more of the sugar to be converted to alcohol. The four basic styles of Madeira are the full rich, medium rich, medium dry, and dry. Full rich and medium dry are the most popular styles of Madeira. In the US, the medium dry style is referred to as 'Rainwater'.

The British shippers found that the wine improved during the ocean transit due to the tropical heating of the wine, which was shipped in casks and stowed on the deck of the ship. This impacted the production process, resulting in the type of heating or 'estufagem' process for aging wines. Today, Madeira's are submitted to a heating or estufagem process using special stainless steel tanks called estufas. These estufas have water pipes to circulate hot water to heat the Madeira to 113 to 122 degrees for three months. After the estufagem process, the Madeira is matured in French Allier oak casks for a minimum of tow years.

View the wines in Frontier's portfolio from Madeira.