Our first full day in Madeira confirms that it is as close to paradise on earth that you’ll ever find. Everyone should come to Madeira at least once in their lives and as an incentive, I’m offering 5 vouchers worth $100 on a future Wine Lovers Tours to the first 5 people who can identify the moniker or descriptive phrase used to refer to Madeira.
We started our day by climbing high into the mountains: over 1200 meters, in our AC bus of course. There are tons of people who ramble in Madeira but not our crew. I have included some dranatic photos here and in the Portugal album on our website. Banana plantations, exotic flora, canopied vineyards on steep slopes that rival the Douro. And our hotel! Each of us has a sea view room and we can swim in the ocean, or fresh or salt water pools.
Our lunch yesterday was at a Quinta high up the slopes, part of the Charming Hotels of the World. Also having lunch near us were the Bishop of Madeira and the owner of Blandy’s. Sweet potato bread, Fried Maize, sweet potatoes with molasses, Barbecued beef “Espetada”delivered on skewers hanging on our tables, local red wine, dessert trolley, oven baked garlic bread. Everyone is mad at me because we’ve all gained weight.
We also managed to visit two producers of Madeira, Henriques & Henriques, and Blandy’s. We learned that there are 4 noble Madeira grapes, all white: Sercial (dry), Verdelho(medium dry), Bual, semi sweet and Malvasia aka Malmsley, the sweetest. There are also 2 rarer noble grapes: Terrantez and Moscatel. There is also a red grape, Tinta Negra Mole, not recognized by the Madeira Wine Institute as a noble grape. At our Henriques tasting, we had a dry 5 year old, a 15 year old Verdelho, a 20 year old Terrantez and a single harvest tinta negra from 1997. The Verdelho is my favorite. At Blandy’s we had a vertical tasting of Bual: 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and 18 years to follow the evolution.
Tomorrow is another full day highlighted by a visit to the market, a cable car ride, the famous sled rides and of course lunch. I’ll post another blog with photos but meanwhile try your luck at the guessing contest.