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#1 Hightest



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Posted 13 April 2009 - 01:27 PM

Originally posted "elsewhere" on 10/23/2003...The sub-tropical island of Madeira, off the coast of Portugal and owned by Portugal, produces the world's longest-lived wines, many lasting over a century. Generally even the oldest of these fortified wines not only show no signs of age but also are still evolving and improving. The wines are concentrated, fresh, clean and harmonious, with balanced sweetness and acidity. The wines of Madeira were very well known and quite fashionable all over the world in the 18th and 19th centuries but today their appreciation is limited to only a few markets, including Great Britain, the United States, France, Japan and Scandinavia.At the end of the 1600s, barrels of Madeira were put in the holds of ships sailing across the equator to act as ballast. Cane sugar brandy was added to the wine to preserve its longevity, while the heat of the hold and the continual motion were responsible for transforming the wine into Madeira, by lending concentration, flavor intensity, enhanced complexity and greater longevity. Hot rooms known as estufa, an aging technique that simulates the heating effect from the ship's hold and imparts a caramel taste, have replaced the sailing ships. However, the finest Madeiras (vinhos de canteiro) are produced without any artificial heating. Rather they are heated only by the sun and then mature in cask for at least 20 years. Fortification of Madeira, to stabilize the wines and preclude deterioration, was not a general practice until the middle of the 1700s.Vintage Madeira, wine from a single year, is aged in cask (primarily American oak) for a minimum of 20 years and then aged in glass 20-litre demijohns for additional years prior to bottling, (at a time when the wine is judged to be ready to drink), followed by at least two years time in the bottle prior to shipment.Other quality designations of Madeira include:
    [*]Extra Reserve, which refers to a blended, 15-year-old wine.[*]Special Reserve is a wine where the youngest component in the blend will be about 10 years old, having aged in cask, without having been in the estufa tanks.[*]Reserve denotes a blended five-year-old wine, some or all of which has undergone estufagem in tank and then a proportion of which has been aged in cask.[*]Finest Madeira is a blended three-year-old wine, bottled after estufagem and aging in tank[/list]The Tinta Negra Mole is the grape variety for three-year-old Madeira, while the noble grape varieties are used for the older wines. Bulk wine experiences fast estufagem in the tank and then is aged for about 18 months before shipment, sometimes with the addition of caramel for color and sweetness. Bottled varietals of Madeira include:
      [*]Sercial (a clone of Riesling that is dry in style, with good acidity)[*]Verdelho (a soft, medium-dry wine)[*]Bual (or Boal, a medium-rich, elegant wine)[*]Malmsey (also known as Malvoisie or Malvasia is a rich wine)[*]Other varieties grown in lesser quantities are,[/list]

      o Terrantez, a medium-sweet variety which can be added to the other four, although it is becoming exceedingly rareo Bastardo and Moscatel also becoming rare.

        [*]Rainwater is a light, medium-dry style of Madeira.[/list]That's enough for now. A commercial variety you will commonly find is Blandy's (in 5, 10, & 15 year ages).

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