How are the Madeiran wines produced?
In the case of Madeira wine, a fortified wine, after the harvest and grape crushing, it is subject to fermentation, which is stopped with the addition of vinic alcohol at 96%, depending if the oenologist intends to get a sweeter or drier wine. The production process then follows, “Estufagem” or “Canteiro”. In the first, the wine is placed in stainless steel vats, for approximately 3 months, and heated up to 45 to 50 degrees Celsius, and is then submitted to an “aging” period of, at least, 90 days at room temperature. After this process, the wine may remain in stainless steel or be placed in wooden barrels, until it meets the conditions for bottling.
In the second process, “Canteiro”, the wines are aged in barrels, normally on the top floors of the warehouses, where the temperatures are higher, for a minimum period of 2 years. It undergoes an oxidative aging in the barrel, developing unique characteristics of intense and complex aromas upon the wines. This denomination derives from the fact that the barrels are placed on wooden support beams, called canteiros.
Regarding the Madeira still wines, the process is, somehow, similar to the production of still wines around the world, highlighting the terroir of the Madeiran wines, granting them a unique acidity and freshness.