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Madeira wine is a unique fortified wine made on the Madeira Islands of Portugal - situated in the Atlantic Ocean of the north coast of Africa. All fortified wines on the Madeira island are produced under the Madeira DOC status. It is one of the greatest wines in the world which can come in a variety of styles ranging from dry which can be served and appreciated on their own, through to sweet wines usually enjoyed with desserts. The Madeira wine is made in a specific way called madeiraisation, which creates its typical flavour and colour. Its creation happened by chance in the 17th century, when large quantities were exported from the town of Funchal by ship from the Dutch to South America. Shortly after the arrival they have noticed that the wine became better the longer the voyage continued and the longer the ship stayed in the hot, tropical climate. The Madeira wine was known, back then as vinho do roda ("wine of the round trip"). A new way of maturing wine was discovered and in the 17th century, the demand for the wine boomed, as the island became a key supply station for ships on the way to India and the Portuguese colonies in Brazil. Nowadays, this process is accelerated and known as estufagem method used for large-scale production, the wine is heated to 50°C for approximately three months to imitate what happened to Madeira barrels during tropical voyages. There is a traditional method of maturation called canteiro is used for high-quality Madeira. Large barrels are placed in rooms heated only by the sun for 20 years to a century, an expensive and very long method which gives the Madeira wine its famous oxidised and caramelized flavours. There are traditional four noble grape varieties for production of the wine including Sercial, Boal, Verdelho, Malvasia (Malmsey), and the wines are produced as a single variety. Although, around 80% of today's production is made of the grape Tinta Negra Mole(Negramoll), which is much more vigorous than the noble grapes. During the fermentation to the wine is added pure 96% spirit, usually made from cane sugar. The result is fortified Madeira with 17% vol., then wine rests for 12 to 18 months and it is graded according to quality. After that, it is filled in barrels (estufagem) for at least three years called the Finest, for not more than five years is called Seleccionado. From the noble varieties must be matured at least five years, which is the Reserve, Special Reserve is up to ten years and the rest is the high-quality Madeira Extra Reserve which can be 20,30,40 years old. The best is the Vintage Madeira which matures at least 20 years in the barrel and two years in the bottle, and it is considered to be the most long-lasting wine in the world, which becomes even better with further ageing.

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