DOC area for a famous Dessert wine named after the Portuguese island of Madeira. The archipelago is located in the Atlantic, about 1,000 km from the mainland Portugal and 650 km from the coast of Africa ( Morocco ) away. It was discovered in 1420 by sailor João Gonçalves Zarco (1380-1467), who found a densely forested island (Madeira means "island of the forest"). The Portuguese set the island on fire, the fire raged for seven years. As a result, almost all the vegetation was destroyed, but the wood ash and the already existing volcanic soil created ideal conditions for viticulture. At the end of the 16th century, a commercially important viticulture is documented. The port of Funchal quickly developed into a strategically important stopover, taking all the ships en route to Africa. Asia and South America were headed. Here, the ships were also supplied with wines. These spoiled but mostly on the long sea voyages. That's why it gradually took over Spriten with sugar cane distilled spirits especially to make the wines more durable. But this became the norm only in the middle of the 18th century.
It is not known when a Madeira of today's kind existed, but a legend tells of it in 1478. That year, George Plantaganet became Duke of Clarence (1449-1478), brother of King Edward IV of England (1442) -1483), sentenced to death for conspiratorial activity, greed and violence. He was given the choice of execution and, according to unsecured tradition, he allegedly decided to die in a drowning death Malmsey filled barrel in the tower. But maybe the "drowning" refers to the fact that he was a heavy drinker all his life. In any case, he was not killed with the beheading Behaupten usual for aristocrats, which proves a later exhumation.
The special kind of production, which concerning the typical taste and the colour also as maderisation In the 17th century, by chance, large quantities of Funchal were reported to have been shipped by ship Dutch were exported to South America and other colonies. It was found that the longer the journey took and the longer the ship stayed in hot, tropical climates, the better the wine became. The rocking ship movement (as was then thought) but especially the extreme temperature fluctuations contributed to the typical taste. That's why they loaded many ships with the wine and sent them to the East Indies and back just for manufacturing purposes (they crossed the equator twice). The wines were called "Vinhos de torna-viagem "(Wines make a journey) or" Vinho da roda "(roda = twist / rotate) and is also on old Madeira bottles on the label documented (TVE).
The original impetus for trade in Madeira was laid in the late 17th century, when large quantities of wine were needed for the new Portuguese colonies in South America (Brazil). By the colonization of America in the 17th century under the reign of the English King Charles II (1630-1685), Madeira also became fashionable on the North American East Coast. He enjoyed a great reputation there and became a coveted and expensive object. The American Declaration of Independence in 1776 was solemnly sealed with a Madeira. The first US President George Washington (1732-1799) enjoyed a Madeira dinner every day. And the founding of the named after him capital Washington DC was also celebrated with a Madeira. In the 19th century, the wine was in the USA so popular that their own events (Madeira parties) were held and clubs were founded (legendary is the still existing Madeira Club of Savannah-Ohio).
The elaborate production by ship journey was practiced until the beginning of the 20th century, but then abandoned (individual bottles are still available in stores). One tried now to imitate the special conditions. There were wine storage (port Estufa = oven, English Hothouse) built, this provided with solar heat-saving metal roofs and stored the wine for months at high temperatures. This was the beginning of today's Estufagem process. In the 1860s reached the mildew and the phylloxera the island and paralyzed the viticulture. In the 1870s, many vineyards were replaced by sugar cane, only just under 500 acres remained. Ten years later, a new beginning with unedited ones was ventured hybrids...