The renowned wine critic, Michael Broadbent, MW and his son Bartholomew share a love for wine and in particular, Madeira. Winemaker Juan Teixeira works with the family’s network of growers to create the blends but its Michael who goes to Madeira to personally taste and select each wine. In 1996, Bartholomew began importing his family’s Madeira selections to the United States. Madeiras are fortified wines named after their point of origin; an island located 400 miles off the North African coast. During the Age of Exploration (15th century-17th century), Madeira was a regular port of call for ships travelling to the New World and East Indies. The first Madeiras were a happy result of that voyage; to prevent the wine from spoiling, neutral grape spirits were added. The intense heat and constant movement of the ships transformed its pale fortified cousin into a rich, oxidized wine. That aging process, called estufagem is now duplicated in one of three ways: Cuba de Calor is typically used to produce bulk Madeiras. The wines are heated to 130°F for 90 days in stainless steel or concrete tanks surrounded by either heat coils or piping that allow hot water to circulate around the container. Armazem de Calor is a somewhat similar but gentler approach. The wines are heated in large wooden casks in a room outfitted with steam-producing tanks, much like a sauna. The process provides moderate heat, over a longer period of time, from six months to over a year. The only company that uses Armazem de Calor is the Madeira Wine Company. Canteiro is the most method as the wines remain in oak casks, to slowly and naturally mature in the warm and humid climate of the island. By law, reserve Madeiras must age for at least five years in cask and those designated as Vintage or Frasqueira for at least 20 years. Making Madeira is similar to normal winemaking in that it begins with harvest, crushing, pressing and fermentation of the grapes in either stainless steel or oak casks. The varieties destined for sweeter wines Boal and Malvasia are often fermented on their skins, while drier styles of Madeiras from Sercial, Verdelho and Tinta Negra Mole are separated from their skins prior to fermentation. Neutral grape spirits are added at different points during fermentation depending on the desired level of sweetness. Michael and Bartholomew produce Madeira in three age categories: 3 year, 5 year and 10 year.