Types of Madeira Wine (DO Madeira)
Madeira wine is a fortified wine, presenting an alcohol content between 17 and 22% vol., produced in the Demarcated Region of Madeira.
We may find several designations for Madeira wine: the blended wines, without an indication of age, for the wines with a minimum aging of 3 years; or with an indication of age, which may be 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 50+ years old.
Other traditional mentions are Frasqueira or Garrafeira for wines which indicate the year of the harvest and the recommended variety, produced by the canteiro process and with a minimum continuous aging of 20 years in wood. The Colheita [Harvest] wines must indicate the year of the harvest, as the name indicates, and be continuously aged in wood for at least 5 years.
The Canteiro indication is for the wines that, upon fortification, are submitted to aging in wood for a minimum of 2 years.
Other indications are Reserva (Velho) [Reserve (Aged)], Reserva Velha [Aged Reserve] (Reserva Especial [Special Reserve] or Muito Velho [Very Aged]) and Reserva Extra [Extra Reserve], when in conformity with aging standards, 5, 10 and 15 years, respectively.
There are also other classifications, such as Seleccionado, Selected, Choice or Finest, when the wines present a special quality for the correspondent age; and Fino or Fine for the Madeira wines with the perfect balance with regards to its acidity and evolution aromas in wood.
Rainwater is a designation applied to wines which present a colour between pale and golden, associating, or not, the indication of the maximum age of 10 years.
Nowadays, with less weight on the market, we may find Madeira wine with the Solera indication, reserved for wines produced in canteiro, whose base wine is from a single harvest and recommended variety, with a minimum aging of 5 years in wood. This is a blended wine.
Other types of Madeira wine, according to the degree of sweetness, are the Dry, Extra-Dry, Semi-Dry, Semi-Sweet and Sweet.