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Blandy's

For 200 years, Blandy’s Madeira has been synonymous with quality Madeira wine.


For 200 years, Blandy’s Madeira has been synonymous with quality Madeira wine. The Blandys are unique in being the only family of all the original founders of the Madeira wine trade to still own and manage their own original wine company. The family has played a leading role in the development of Madeira wine throughout its long history and members of the family continue to live on Madeira, maintaining a tradition that goes back to 1811.

Michael and Chris Blandy are the 6th and 7th generations to work in the business.

It has long been said that John Blandy, the founder of the family business, arrived in Madeira in 1807 aged twenty-three as a quartermaster to General Beresford, commander of the British garrison. Yet prolonged research among army lists yielded no mention of a John Blandy serving in Madeira. The truth was found instead by the Madeira wine lover and expert Emmanuel ‘Mannie’ Berk. In August 2006 he found a letter of introduction sent from London to Messrs Newton, Gordon, Murdoch, wine merchants in Madeira, which immediately solved the family mystery: ‘Sirs! At the desire of our particular friend, Richard Fuller Esq., Banker in this City, we beg leave to introduce Mr John Blandy who visits your Island on account of ill health, and wishes to obtain employment in a Counting House. We shall be obliged if you can promote his views, and accordingly recommend him to your attention.’ The letter is dated 23 December 1807, implying that John Blandy arrived in the island early in 1808 rather than with British forces some months before.

Madeira is a fortified wine found only on the mountainous Atlantic island of the same name.The vines are grown from sea level up to a height of 600 metres and the wines range from dry to very rich. The principal grape varieties are Malmsey, Bual, Verdelho, Sercial and Tinta Negra Mole.

The driest wines are made from the Sercial grape grown on high cool slopes mainly on the north of the Island. The sweetest Madeiras are made from the rich Malmsey grape which flourishes on the warmer lower-lying vineyards, particularly around São João on the north and Jardim do Mar on the south. The vines are grown either on pergolas (hanging off trellises that are on average 1.5 metres off the ground) or upright in rows, trained onto horizontal wires.

The harvest starts in mid-August and is completed by the middle of October when a wine festival takes place in Funchal. The grapes are all picked by hand from the small terraced vineyards situated on the steep slopes around the island and then transported to the 'adegas' -wineries- where the winemaking takes place.

 

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