Styles of madeira: Sercial

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Among the noble grapes, Sercial is usually grown in the coolest vineyards, at heights of up to 800 m/2,640 ft or on the north side of the island. Many growers erroneously believe that the variety is related to Germany’s riesling grape but it is in fact the same as the esgana cão (meaning dog strangler) which grows on the Portuguese mainland, the grapes exhibiting the same ferocious levels of acidity. At high elevations, Sercial ripens with difficulty to make a 10% base wine which is dry, tart, and astringent when young. With fortification and ten or more years’ ageing in cask, a good Sercial wine develops high-toned, almond-like aromas with a nervy character and a searing dry finish. The Sercial wines range in residual sugar from 0.5 ° to 1.5 °Baumé.