Styles of madeira: Standard blends

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Madeira’s wines were traditionally named after the principal noble grape varieties grown on the island: Sercial, Verdelho, Bual (or Boal), and Malvasia (or malmsey), these names denoting increasingly sweet styles of madeira. But since phylloxera destroyed many of Madeira’s best vineyards at the end of the 19th century, much of the island’s wine has in reality been made from either american hybrids or the local V. vinifera variety Negramoll. The use of American hybrids has technically been illegal since 1979. From the beginning of 1993, Madeira has been made to conform to the eu requirement that a varietally named wine must contain at least 85% of wine made from the specified grape variety. Insufficient quantities of the noble varieties resulted in renaming most standard blends simply ‘Dry’, ‘Medium Dry’, ‘Medium Sweet’, ‘Medium Rich’, and ‘Rich’ or ‘Sweet’.