The history of Madeira wine stretches back to the Age of Exploration, when Madeira was a frequent port of call for ships whose captains would fuel up on wine—fortified to prevent spoilage—for their trans-Atlantic journey. The blazing heat of the sea voyage transformed the flavor of the wines, a metamorphosis reproduced by a process called estufagem during which the wines are heated to as high as 60°C (140°F) and oxidated. Begun in 1996, Broadbent Madeira was inspired by Bartholomew Broadbent’s father, Michael Broadbent, who called Madeira his “desert island wine,” and who played a crucial role in sourcing the wines and establishing the blends.
Region: Madeira, Portugal
Year Founded: 1996 [though purchased wines back to 1933]
Proprietor: Bartholomew Broadbent
Winemaker: Juan Teixeira
Size of property: Madeira companies generally do not own their own land, they buy from a wide array of grape growers.
Amount of property planted: 2,100 grape growers
Terroir: The island of Madeira has an oceanic, tropically-influenced climate and volcanic soil. With high rainfall and an average mean temperature of 19°C (66°F), fungal diseases and botrytist are constant hazards. To combat these threats, Madiera vineyards are often planted in low trellises known as latada that raise the canopy off the ground. The wine is cultivated in terraced steps of red and basaltic bedrock called poios.
Annual Production: According to market demand, though total production of non-cooking Madeira on the island is
approximately 100,000 cases.
Varieties Cultivated: Malmsey, Tinta Negra Mole, Sercial, Triunfo, Complexa, Verdelho, Bual, Terrantez
and the occasional bucket of Cabernet Sauvignon. The four major grape varietals of Madeira are Malvasia (or Malmsey), Bual, Verdelho and Sercial.