Vintage (or Frasquiera) Madeira must be aged in cask for a minimum of 20 years, in practise they are aged for much longer, before being bottled under Madeira Wine Institute supervision. The wine must then be aged in bottle for a further two years before being released for sale. It must be noted that the word vintage does not appear on bottles of vintage Madeira because, in Portugal, the word “Vintage” is a trademark belonging to the Port traders. Therefore one normally find the grape variety and the vintage on the bottle or label, usually with more information on modern back label.
Madeira is a complex, interesting wine and is made in virtually every vintage. Due to the unique estufagem aging process Madeira is one of the longest-lived wines and also improves for days after opening, but will keep, once opened, for a month and more in a decanter.A bottle of Vintage Madeira makes an ideal wedding or anniversary present.
Traditionally Madeira varies in style and sweetness depending on the grape variety that the Madeira is made from. Sercial produces the driest style, the rarer Terrantez and Verdelho produce a Medium Dry style, Bual (sometimes call Boal) produces a Medium Rich style and Malvasia (also known as Malmsey) produces the richest and sweetest styles. You will find find Vintage Madeiras made with all these grape varieties and in all these different styles. There is also another type of older, aged Madeira, called Solera Madeira, which is made using a fractional ageing system similar to the Sherry Solera System. Sometimes is has a year on the bottle, but it is not technically a vintage. Read more about Solera Madeira.