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Madeira

Madeira is a historic Portuguese island well known for its fortified wines which are lasting literary forever. It is located in the Atlantic Ocean off the north coast of Africa around 970 km Southwest of Lisbon. The Madeira rich history goes back to 1419 when the island is discovered and planted with vines and sugar plantations. It has a mild subtropical climate and temperatures throughout the year, but it is also greatly affected by the ocean. It is a small island not more than 55 km with a landscape which is extremely mountainous, with deep valleys and steep hills where the vines are planted on little terraces in rich, acid, volcanic soils that have a lot of organic elements. The region is famous for its uniquely produced wines from the four noble grape varieties Sercial, Boal, Verdelho, Malvasia (Malmsey) and from the mass production Tinta Negra Mole(Negramoll) grape. The Madeira wine is created by mistake as the locals have added neutral grape spirit to prevent the wines from spoiling on the long ocean crossings. During the long sea journeys, the wines were exposed to heat and constant movement, which modified the flavour and character of the wines. The name of this method is called maderization and gives to the wines distinctive caramelised and oxidative taste, due to the extreme temperature fluctuations. The great rush for Madeira wine was in the late 17th century when wine was required in large amounts for the new Portuguese settlements and also became fashionable on the east coast of North America, gaining reputation there and became a sought-after and expensive wine. Nowadays, Madeira Island and its wines and general the fortified wines have fallen from popularity all over the world. The classical and historic Madeira may slowly disappear from the shelves of the fine wine stores. The hope is now in the young and innovative wine producers which have started to increase both quality and efficiency and to keep Madeira's long winemaking traditions.

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