Rainwater Madeira is a style of Madeira that has fallen out of fashion in recent years but used to be very popular, particularly in the USA. Rainwater Madeira is still made by some producers. It is is usually a medium-dry and mild style of Madeira and is quite often made from the Tinta Negra Mole grape variety. In style it is similar to a lighter style of Verdelho.
There are two main theories as to why it is called Rainwater Madeira. The first of these is that the wine was made from vineyards that were very steep and inaccessible and therefore very difficult to irrigate and thus the vineyards were dependent on rain water for moisture.
The second theory is that a Madeira shipment sent to the USA for merchant William Neyle Habersham, was left on the dockside in Savannah, Georgia for an extended period of time in the rain.
The wooden barrels absorbed the rainwater and it is believe this diluted the Madeira. When Habersham initially complained about the Madeira but soon realised that he actually quite liked the wine and a new type of Madeira was born – Rainwater Madeira – which quickly became very popular in the USA.
Obviously the second theory is a little bit more romantic!
At Fareham Wine Cellar we stock Barbeito Rainwater 5 Year Old Reserva Madeira Meio Seco (Medium Dry) in 50cl bottles.
The wines for the Barbeito Rainwater Madeira are aged in French oak casks for 5 years using the Canteiro method. For this blend wines are selected from Barbeito’s two warehouses in Funchal and Câmara de Lobos to produce a wine with a great balance of sugar and acidity. No caramel is added.
Tasting Notes: Barbeito Rainwater 5 Year Old Reserva has a youthful golden colour, it is quite pale. The nose is full with nuts, almonds, orange peel and quite spicy notes. The palate shows a bit of sweetness and there is very good acidity, meaning that none of the sweetness is cloying at all. It has a very good, clean, long and nutty finish.
Food & Wine match: Try with aged hard cheeses, soups and consommés. Alternatively serve lightly chilled as an aperitif.
Read more about Barbeito Madeiras here.
See our full list of Madeira wines, including Vintage Madeiras here.