Rare Madeira!!


Historical Cellars in Madeira
Madeira wine history is both long and rich.  Dating back over 300 years, only recently has the rest of the world begin to grasp the significance and importance of the land down under.

As with most wine producing countries, Madeira has specific grape growing regions where wine grapes flourish.  

We have many vintages of Madeira, click here to go to our affiliate wine shop to see our selection.

Taylor & Norton Wine Merchants

Madeira is an island southwest of Portugal, off the city of Casablanca. Back in the 1500s, to allow their wines to last the long ocean journeys, the natives would add brandy to it. This would make the wine more resistant to temperature changes. This made madeira a "fortified wines".

Madeira was first shipped to Europe in 1515, to the court of King Francis I of France. Shippers found that the mere act of shipping the wine through the equator helped its aging process. So they filled pipes with the wine and purposefully used it as ballast on ships, to let it age! Because of this, madeira became known as vinho da roda, or "wine of the round voyage."

Madeira was highly in demand in young America, being enjoyed by Benjamin Franklin and by many Colonial Americans. Even now is quite popular, and often is a key ingredient in delicious recipes.

Madeira is made with four varieties of grapes, and a bottle of madeira should be labelled according to which were used in it. These are:

  • Rainwater, A soft, light, pale Madeira

  • sercial, a very dry taste, light color

  • verdelho, medium dry, golden color

  • bual, medium sweet, velvety, dark gold to brown

  • malmsey, the original grape, sweet, chestnut-brown

  • Terrantez,

The grades of Madeira are:

  • Reserve: 5 years or older

  • Special Reserve: 10 years or older

  • Extra Reserve: 15 years or older.

  • Solera: a blend of many vintages to achieve a consistent style

  • Vintage: Considered the finest, and most expensive.

Some have said that great Madeira is virtually immortal. Even today one can find Madeira wines of 50, 100, 150, even 200+ years old.  The longevity of Madeira wine can be attributed in large part to the way in which it is made.   While other wines are made with great care to not expose them to the extremes of light, heat, cold, air, motion, it is exactly

these factors that give Madeira wine its unique, and long ageing attributes. 


Fortifying Madeira wines with high-proof alcohol much like Port wine, is another factor in their staying power.   Although very early on, this

was not so.  Ships stopping at Madeira would take on casks of wine both as ballast for the ships, and as a precaution for the crew against scurvy.  These early wines while palatable, were still harsh, and did not usually improve throughout the entire voyage.  With a bucket of brandy added to

each cask, the wines not only had better staying power, they improved in flavor and seemed to mellow as the ships went on their voyage to

the West Indies, and came back to Madeira with occasionally un-tapped casks.  


Soon, the wine was not considered mature unless it had crossed the tropics twice, so they began sending wines to the East and West Indies

for the sole purpose of maturing.  Mellowing in the heat of the hold of a sturdy sailing ship, rolling and pitching over thousands of miles of distant seas, they gained something of the character of the ship itself. These wines, known as “Vinho da Roda” (wine of the round voyage), began to

take on names of the ships that carried them.  Names like Southern Cross, Madeiras, Voyager, Wanderer, Challenger.,et al.