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winery. By extension, a building where wine is aged and stored.
strictly speaking, a word for spirits, but universally used on Madeira to refer to aguardente de cana, a rum-like spirit made from sugar cane. Wine spirits are aguardente do vinho.
literally, ‘amber’. Variations on this term are widely used in Europe to denote wines made with white grapes that have turned amber in color due to controlled exposure to oxygen and/or heat over a period of years prior to bottling. The primary, fresh fruit expressions of such wines give way to complex secondary- or tertiary characteristics including dried fruit, roasted nuts and emerging spices notes. The impression of weight and the texture of such wines is likewise transformed, becoming richer and more concentrated. Examples include Rancio sec, Rivesaltes, Marsala, Carcavelos and Madeira, though the term does not necessarily have official standing in each of these appellations.
store or lodge where madeira wine is aged.
Armazém de calor
An old form of estufa—a wine store that is artificially heated—no longer in use on the island of Madeira.
must which has been boiled down; used for sweetening.
the skins, stalks and pips left over after fermentation and pressing.
a measure of dissolved compounds in grape juice and therefore its approximate concentration of sugars. The number of degrees Baumé is a rough indicator of percentage of alcohol by volume.
sack made from goatskin, retaining the shape of the goat, once used to carry grape must or wine from the lagares of outlying vineyards to the lodges.
a man who transports must or wine to the lodges in a borracha.
A long drink containing spirit mixed with ginger ale and lime juice.
a census or register of vineyards and grape varieties planted within.
literally, the trestle on which a cask rests in the lodge. In common usage, it refers to the process of aging the wines in naturally heated stores; thus, a vinho do canteiro is a wine that has not been subjected to estufagem.
A grape variety.
Casta Nobre
a noble grape variety. These varieties are now classified as ‘recommended’.
A drink consisting of fortified wine or spirits and sugar, served over crushed ice and garnished with fresh fruit.
A cocktail is a mixed drink, originally composed of spirit, sugar, water and bitters. Gradually, the term has expanded to encompass most single-serving mixed drinks. Many such cocktails follow a rough template: a base spirit, a modifier (e.g., a liqueur, wine or citrus juice), and an accent (bitters or other flavoring). Cocktails are typically chilled and diluted by shaking or stirring with ice, and then strained into stemware.
literally, ‘harvest’ and a style of madeira from a single vintage, not subject to estufagem, that has been aged from five to less than twenty years. (The term ‘Single Harvest’ can be used interchangeably with ‘Colheita’.)
A tall mixed drink made with primary spirit, lemon juice, sugar and soda water.
local council. Also used informally to refer to the growing areas of Madeira, including Porto Santo (the small island of the northeast coast of Madeira. There are eleven concelhos in toto.
Contrato de colonia
type of leasehold where the tenant pays a proportion of the produce of the land to the owner in rent. Predominant form of land ownership and occupancy until the socialist revolution in 1974.
in a solera or solera system, a group of barrels from which wine is periodically drawn off to refresh another criadera or solera. Each criadera represents a scale in the solera system. When wine is drawn from the solera for bottling, it is replaced by wine from the first criadera. The first criadera is then replenished by the second, and so on, with the average age becoming progressively younger in each criadera. Wine drawn from the youngest criadera is replaced by sobratabla wine, and the solera and the criaderas that feed it make up the scales of a specific solera.
Cuba de calor
tank, often of concrete and lined with epoxy resin, used for heating wine during estufagem.
A drink containing spirit, lemon juice, sugar and soda water. It is customarily served over crushed ice in a metal tankard
a large glass bottle, typically holding 25 liters of wine. Used to arrest further development and concentration of old madeira.
Direct Producers
Ungrafted vines of American origin, planted on the island in response to the twin plagues of oidium and phylloxera after 1850. For decades, these used to make their way into less expensive madeira blends, but this laxity was firmly outlawed upon Portugal’s entry into the EEC. The grapes are still able to be used in making vinho seco.
system of training vines on wires between posts.
a period of rest for the wine following estufagem.
literally, a ‘hot house’ and, by extension, the tanks where madeira is artificially heated (estufagem).
Estufa do sol
a glass room or house where madeira may be heated by the sun.
typically, vinho estufado—a wine that has been subject to estufagem.
the process of artificially heating madeira wine.
A drink (essentially a single-serving punch) served in a glass containing spirit, water, lemon juice, sugar, crushed ice, and sometimes other flavorings.
A mixed drink typically made with spirit, lemon juice, egg white, sugar and soda water. Egg yolk is sometimes substituted for egg white, or egg may be omitted entirely. Additional flavorings, or flavored syrup alternatives to the sugar are not uncommon.
An energetically-mixed drink of spirit or wine, egg, sugar, and often other flavorings. Some are served hot.
the practice of adding a spirit, usually grape spirit, to a wine to arrest its fermentation, increase its alcoholic strength and/or ensure future microbiological stability. Most bacteria and yeast strains are incapacitated above alcohol levels of 15.5 – 18%. The stage at which the spirit is added varies depending on the style of fortified wine produced. The earlier it is added, the sweeter the resulting wine will be. For Vins de Liqueur (mistelles) such as Pineau de Charantes, grape spirit is added to sweet, unfermented or barely fermented grape juice. For most port-style wines, including most Madeiras, and for all Vins Doux Naturels (Banyuls, Maury, Rivesaltes), fortification arrests the fermentation and a portion of the natural grape sugar is preserved in the wine. (In France, this process is called mutage.) In the case of most Sherrys and Marsalas, fortifying spirit is not added until after the wine has completed its fermentation.
literally, a private store or cellar for wine. Along with garrafeira, the term frasqueira represents a vintage wine of the classical varieties—as well as Terrantez, Bastardo and Moscatel—that has been aged for at least twenty years in canteiro.
a glass demi-john.
literally, a private store or cellar for wine. The name by which madeira which has been cask aged for at least twenty years has been known. Garrafeira and frasqueira used interchangeably.
literally, ‘generous’, also meaning fortified, as in vinho generoso, fortified wine.
youngest and cheapest madeira which was exported in bulk until 2002.
Any rum based cocktail made with fruit and sugar. Originally grog was a mixture of rum and water issued to sailors in the Royal Navy.
A tall drink consisting of one spirit and one mixer (traditionally soda water or ginger ale) that is served in a highball glass (10 – 12 ounces).
Instituto do Vinho, do Bordado e do Artesanato da Madeira, IP (The Wine, Embroidery and Handicrafts Institute of Madeira). This government body presides over the wine trade in Madeira, in keeping with overarching EU aegis.
A drink of spirit, sugar and mint served with crushed ice.
tank or trough, often made of wood in Madeira, in which the grapes are trodden at the vintage. Where these were once the rule, they are now a vestige of Madeira’s commercial winemaking history.
trellis, generally low-lying, which supports the vines. Still very common on the island, especially for certain varieties, especially Malvasia and Terrantez.
an extensive series of channels cut into the Madeira hillsides, which collect and distribute water for irrigation.
a store for wine. This term that has recently been adopted on Madeira from the port wine industry on the mainland.
“lot”; a specific parcel of wine. Some firms are now releasing special lote essays, typically in the colheita/single harvest category.
oxidation of wine through exposure to air. Term typically applied applied to table wines which have become unintentionally oxidized rather than those that have been purposely subjected to a controlled interaction with air in the manner of madeira.
must, or grape juice prior to fermentation.
a type of fortification by which the fermentation of a wine is arrested, sometimes by adding sulfur but most commonly by the addition of alcohol (grape spirit). While the term is not commonly used there, this is the process that is typically used in the production of most Portuguese Vinhos Generosos (Port, Carcavelos, Madeira), as well in all French Vin Doux Naturels (Banyuls, Maury, Rivesaltes).
a naturally occurring process which occurs when a wine is exposed to oxygen. In small and controlled amounts, depending on the wine and expectations for it, this can result in a greater depth and complexity in the wine. Too much exposure—uncontrolled—results in maderization, a wine flaw.
a wine is said to be ‘oxidative’ when it has, through careful and controlled exposure to oxygen, move away from its primary expression to an advanced secondary and/or tertiary expression. Madeira is an exemplar of the class.
a trader or stockholder of wine who buys stocks and/or makes wines in order to mature and sell it to shippers or other traders.
French term for late-harvest grapes that have been left to dry on the wine in order to obtain berries with higher sugar and extract for the production of sweet wine.
vineyard terraces without retaining walls that have been constructed and shaped by bulldozing the soil, an approach developed in the Douro and recently employed popular on Madeira. The terraces will be interconnected, allowing for some mechanization.
A wood pipe or cask used for aging wine. A shipping pipe is also a unit of measurement: 418 liters in Madeira. There is no standard measure for a lodge pipe, which can contain anything up to 650 liters.
terrace with stone retaining walls, traditional to Madeira viticulture.
A drink comprised of at least 5 ingredients, most commonly: Spirit, sugar, juice, spice, and water.
literally, a farm. On Madeira, often used to signify an estate with a large house located on the estate.
rectified concentrated grape must. Preserved grape juice that has been processed to reduce the concentration of solids other than sugars. Can be used to sweeten wines in place of sugar.
effectively, the opposite of oxidation which occurs when wine is stored in the absence of oxygen in tank, cask or bottle. A madeira wine held for a long period in a full, well-stoppered bottle may become subject to reduction, leading to unpleasant aromas collectively described as ‘bottle stink’. Aeration by decanting helps these aromas to dissipate.
a term applied to both a style of winemaking and the wines that result from it, preserving primary aromas and flavors by minimizing exposure to oxygen.
Residual sugar
total quantity of sugar remaining unfermented in a finished wine, usually measured in grams/liter. Residual sugar in madeira may vary from as little as 15 g/l to as much as 130 g/l in the very sweetest wines.
Running the Scales
in the solera systems of Jerez, the orchestrated withdrawal and replenishment from the solera and its criaderas is known as ‘running the scales’.
the withdrawal of wine from a solera for bottling. From the verb sacar, meaning ‘to take out’. Typically, no more than 1/3 is removed, and often far less. A saca initiates a ‘running of the scales’.
the various tiers of a solera system, comprising both the criaderas and the solera itself. Thus, five criaderas and one solera = six scales, and the orchestrated withdrawal and replenishment from the solera and its criaderas is known as ‘running the scales’.
A tall cocktail made with a spirit, citrus juice and sugar. Most slings also include soda.
meaning ‘on the board’. Young wine that has been racked off its lees and, in the instance of Sherry, has had its first fortification so that it is ready to enter a solera.
refers both to a dynamic system of maturation based on fractional blending, aimed at ensuring a consistency and continuity of expression, as well as the final stage or tier of that system, from which the wine is typically drawn for bottling. The best known—and generally most complex—examples of a ‘solera system’ are found in Jerez, where they are used to produce Sherry, but variations on it can be found elsewhere in Spain and beyond.
Solera System
a dynamic system of maturation based on fractional blending, aimed at ensuring a consistency and continuity of expression. The best known—and generally most complex—examples of a ‘solera system’ are found in Jerez, where they are used to produce Sherry, but variations on it can be found elsewhere in Spain and beyond. In Jerez, barrels are arranged into a series of tiers, called scales, each containing wine at different stages of development. When it is time for bottling, a portion of wine—typically no more than 1/3 but often far less—is drawn from the oldest group of barrels, which is itself called the solera. When wine is removed from solera—known as a saca—it is refreshed with an equivalent amount of wine from the next oldest scale, called the first criadera. The first criadera is in turn replenished with an equal portion of wine from the second criadera, and so on, through all of the scales of the solera. Thus, the solera in this expansive sense consists of the solera as well as all of the criaderas which feed it, and the process of withdrawal and replenishment is known as ‘running the scales’. Similar but often less complex solera systems can be found elsewhere in Spain and beyond, including Solera Garnaxta d’Emporda and rare examples in appellations like Banyuls and Madeira.
a large wooden vat, on Madeira often made from Baltic oak or Brazilian satinwood.
‘round trip’. Refers to a wine that has completed a return journey by sea. (See vinho da roda)
literally meaning ‘tiled’, tuilé is the official French term used to describe Vin Doux Naturel wines made with red grapes that have turned brick red or tawny in color due to controlled exposure to oxygen and/or heat over a period of years prior to bottling. The primary, fresh fruit expressions of such wines give way to complex secondary- or tertiary characteristics including dried fruit, roasted nuts and emerging spices notes. The impression of weight and the texture of such wines is likewise transformed, becoming lighter and more delicate.
see Vin Doux Naturels.
Vin Doux Naturels
sometimes referred to as VDN, Vin Doux Naturels the French term for fortified wines created by mutage, in which the fermentation of late-harvest grapes is arrested by the addition of grape spirit, resulting in a wine of 15-18% alcohol. Its best-known examples are the three great, traditional fortified wines of Roussillon: Banyuls, Maury and Rivesaltes.
Vinho abafado
a general term for a fortified wine where the fermentation has been arrested by the addition of aguardente, leaving residual sugar.
Vinho claro
the wine, separated from its lees after fermentation, but prior to fortification, estufagem or aging. On Madeira, it is now the rule to add a fortifying spirit prior to the completion of fermentation.
Vinho da roda
from the 17th to the early 20th century, some madeira was shipped ‘round trip’ on a sea voyage, in the belief that such a journey conveyed a unique felicity on the wine in question.
Vinho de canteiro
wine matured in cask, subjected to natural heat in lodge attics, but without undergoing the artificial heating process of estufagem.
Vinho surdo
a wine that has not been allowed to ferment due to the addition of aguardente. Used to adjust sweetness.