Rats! We almost had 100% sunny days until it rained a bit Friday, our last day in Madeira. But it was light and only lasted momentarily- then the sun and heat came out again. I was able to get in a final ocean swim.
What a glorious day for Wine LOvers: first we went to Quinta do Monte for a tutored wine tasting and snacks. We tasted the Enxurros ’06 white from Madeira made from the Verdelho and the Colombo ’10 from the Arnsburguer grape- bet you never heard of that one before. It is in the Riesling family. We followed that with the Enxurros ’09 red made from the the tinta negra mole; and finally the Colombo red ’10, a blend of several red varieties. We did the cable car and the sled ride, both very exciting and traditional things to do as a tourist.
Then we went to lunch at the Fortress Restaurant with another tutored tasting, conducted by Amerigo Perreira, the leading sommelier in Madeira. We learned that there are 1600 small producers on the island with only 490 hectares under production. There is a total wine production of 5 million liters, of which 4 million are from the tinta negra, not recognized as a ‘noble’ variety and 1 million of sercial, verdelho, bual and malvasia, aka Malmsey. The still wine production has gone from practically nothing to 95,000 kiters. There is still quite a way to go quality wise, but it’s promising.. With lunch we had the barbeito medium dry, the top Madeira producer, the Palmeiras e Voltas white from bual, verdelho and arnsburguer; the Xavelha red, a blend of cab, merlot, tinta barrocca and complexa- another new grape for us. Finally with dessert we had the Barbeito Bual, a delicious nectar.
Of course we had more wines at our farewell dinner with some traditional Madeiran food. I am amazed at how our groups harmonize and bond so quickly- it’s what keeps Roz and me inspired.
We can’t wait to return to Portugal!
ps we had 2 winners to our blog contest: Bill Riccitelli and Jerry Foster: they correctly identified Madeira as the “Pearl of the Atlantic.” Congrats- prize to be mailed out shortly