Grape varieties


Grape varieties

For the DO Madeira, a classification has been made into recommended grapes and permitted grapes, altogether there are 20 recognised grapes. With this register, the government has indicated which grape varieties are of the highest quality. If a grape variety is indicated on the label this means that it is a legally recommended grape varietal.

Recommended grapes for the DO Madeira

Recommended grapes for the DO Madeira (fortified wines) are:

Malvasia Cândida
Malvasia Cândida Roxa
Malvasia de São Jorge
Malvasia Fina (Boal)
Moscatel Graúdo
Tinta Negra
Verdelho Tinto

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Malvasia / Malmsey

Character of the wine
STYLE Sweet.
COLOUR Dark brown coloured wine.
CIDITY AND BODY Medium acidity and full body.
AROMAS AND FLAVOURS Honey, sweet spices, chocolate, dried fruits such as dates and raisins. A rich, layered character.

Across Europe grapes called Malvasia were planted but were not clearly related, although DNA research made clear that Malvasia is a vast family of grape varietals. There are several Malvasia grape varieties in Madeira, such as Malvasia Cândida, Malvasia Roxa, Malvasia Babosa, and Malvasia de São Jorge. Malvasia was the first grape to be planted in Madeira, and it is this wine that made Madeira famous. Fact is, Madeiran Malvasia has for a long time featured amongst the most expensive wines in the world. It counts for the sweetest style and even today, sweet Madeiras are the best sold. Nice to know: you might come across Malmsey, it is the English name for Malvasia.

Tinta Negra

Character of the wine 

STYLE Any level of sweetness.
COLOUR Any type of colour.
ACIDITY AND BODY Medium acidity and medium body. AROMAS AND FLAVOURS Tinta Negra wines can be produced in any style, from dry to sweet (except extra dry, which is reserved for the Sercial grape).

This grape variety was formerly referred to as Tinta Negra mole, ‘the soft.’ It is also known as Negramoll or Mollar in the Portuguese mainland, southern Spain, and the Canary Islands.

There has been a lively discussion about the quality of the Tinta Negra, which accounts for the largest part of all vine plantings. Tinta Negra is the grape used for almost all Madeira’s sold young. If no grape variety is mentioned on the bottle, you may assume that Tinta Negra is in there, because the other grapes are so rare and costly, that if they had been used, the winemaker would have been happy to mention this on the label.

Tinta Negra