Madeira Wine Region Guide

Discover the rich flavors and captivating beauty of Madeira, one sip at a time.

Last updated: November 27, 2023


The iconic home of Portugal’s ‘other’ fortified wine holds a secret. On this subtropical paradise, situated off the coast of Morocco, a small (but growing) volume of exceptional still wine is made. That fact often surprises visitors who associate the island with rich and nutty fortified wines; the finest Madeiras can be aged for a century or more, developing complex flavors that defy words. Indeed, it vies with Port for the world’s greatest fortified wine title. Occasionally, vintages made in the 18th century will surface in the auction market. But, unfortunately, to sample such a rare piece of winemaking history is a privilege sadly reserved for the few.

Yet most consumers remain utterly aloof to the wines of Madeira – fortified styles fell out of fashion in the 1900s as oenophiles began to obsess over dry wines. As a result, the island’s leading merchants and growers have been forced to diversify their portfolios: dry white Verdelho is well worth seeking out. Aromatically expressive and beautifully fresh, it represents the new generation of Madeira wines. But traditionalists will not hear of it; they regard the production of fortified wines as sacrosanct. Plus, ça change.


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James lawrence

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