Travel Madeira...

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Po-yu Sung, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. I need to attend and help organising a conference in Madeira (yes, you see how scientists create events to work in holiday places) so I will be there for first time...
    Is there anything worthy buying or drinking on site? It's hard to Google as it always adjust my search from 'buy wine in Madeira' to 'buy Madeira wine'.
  2. Which, presumably, is the thing to buy!
  3. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Loads of good shops selling loads of new-to-ancient vintages in Funchal, including a big Blandy's shop attached to their visitor centre (you cannot miss it), but with some amazing old wines from Blandy's and Cossart & Gordon. One of my favourite producers is Barbeito, whose winery is a 25 minute walk west of Funchal, but they do have a shop (Diego's?) in Funchal too.
    Po-yu Sung likes this.
  4. Thank you Tom! Hope my luggage allowance is enough.
  5. Do the street toboganing!
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  6. 1. Most wines worth buying can be obtained in the UK at not dissimilar prices. I would consider things like Cossart 1962 Bual, maybe some of the oldest d'Oliveira wines like the 1875 Malvasia. If d'Oliveira have reopened Barros e Sousa, it is a must visit, and some of the BeS wines are potential gems in a pure style. The whole Barbeito range is worth considering ... the best of recent times is the 40yo Mae Manuella, but that may be much cheaper in the UK, if any is left here.

    2. I would avoid everything else other than a current release unless you are very confident: some of the small shops may be ok, but there is stale stock, some on the shelf for years, and massive overpricing. And there are lots of dubious wines appearing in recent times because of high prices being reached for old wines.

    3. The info regarding Barbeito is completely wrong: the winery has moved and is now at altitude above Camara de Lobos and a long hike from Funchal: a taxi or car is really required. And Diogo's, the Barbeito shop, was destroyed by the floods in 2010.
    Po-yu Sung likes this.
  7. Thank you Paul, very useful info. Hope they have good mobile signal or wifi on site, I will keep checking UK pricing.
  8. Travel Man did a programme on the island last week (channel 4 I think).
  9. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Thanks for the update on Barbeito Paul, and indeed I did of course know the winery had moved, but just had a mental block thinking back to their original winery that I visited. I didn't know their shop had gone in floods. Extraordinary as I remember it being right in the centre of Funchal at the bottom of a substantial building, so do you know how exactly it was "destroyed"?
  10. On that subject, you used to be able to buy at Blandy's lodge, and collect after security checks at the airport.

    There are also many older Madeiras to buy by the glass at Blandy's, giving you the opportunity (at a price) to taste before you buy a bottle. Of course that is possible elsewhere to an extent, but you don't usually have so much control over what you taste.
    Po-yu Sung likes this.
  11. Hi Po,

    Was in Madeira over Easter for the first time in 12 years.

    Barros e Sousa has not yet re-opened following its acquisition by d'Oliveira but depending on when your conference is, it might have (due to return at some point in the middle of this year)

    There is as excellent article by Bernard Dias of the Harrogate Medical Wine Society about the island, its wineries and various tastings that I found helpful.

    If you decide to try and pick up any of the table wines listed (I did) then you'll find some at d'Oliveira and others at Blandys but even more at the Raoul Moat international airport on departure. They're only a euro or two more and you'll be able to carry on rather than burying in the middle of your luggage and flirt with suitcase weight limits!

    d'Oliveira is excellent and allows free tastings of their back catalogue (and honey cake) PM me and I'll let you have Luis D’Oliveira's email address - he does sometimes take several days to respond but was helpful.

    Would say the trip to Camara de Lobos for a Barbeito tour and tasting worth the likely 40 euro return taxi fare (although a bus to Camara de Lobos and taxi from there possible) It's beautifully cool at over 600m above sea level on an industrial park right at the top of town. Leandro Gouveia gave me a 1:1 tour and showed the whol journey from presses to the bulk estufagem vessels for the younger blends and the barrel hall for the older wines and the bottling line! Again if you're interested I'll PM you Leandro's details. My taxi driver had a snooze in the cool while I did the tour / tasting before taking me back. Try and agree a return price up front.

    Never having really tried the Miles' blended range but which was available for tasting on demand at my hotel, I did try all four and whilst not in the complexity (or price) range of the older varietal blends they were better than I thought (didn't bring any home).

    Another option in Camara de Lobos is Henriques and Henriques (probably walkable unlike Barbeito) but I ran out of time. Their 5 year old blends are c. 8 euros in Pingo Doce and a big step up from the Miles' equivalents IMHO.

    One mystery was cleared up while I was there the was the name of the now defunct shop in Funchal - the current wine maker / family custodian of the firm) is Ricardo Diogo.


    As Leandro (who I'm sure served me at Diogo's in 2006!) described it there was nothing but the walls left in place after a hail of boulders came crashing down the hill from the Parque de Santa Catarina. A lot of central Funchal was severely damaged at the time with similar causes from the mountains behind Funchal.



    P.S. Dan is right the toboggan is great fun - one way cable car up then toboggan half way down, then walk to d'Oliveira on your way back into town...
  12. Excellent Neil, I will PM you. The conference will be at May bank holiday so that one probably won't be reopened, but there should be plenty already to check as most of my time during the day would be still in conference.
  13. Apparently I will be staying in Melia spa near the sea... But I need to share room with an associate professor, I do hope he wouldn't have problem with me coming back a bit drunk!
  14. I thought just the same when I read it, Tom. But then I remembered - I was staying in the youth hostel on the other side - that it was right by the (normally dry) concrete floodwater channel and thus no doubt first in line for the rush of floodwater. Must have been some floods though.
    Tom Cannavan likes this.
  15. Btw, has anyone had anything interesting from Tinta Negra Mole from Madeira? Quite some interest from these (Negramoll) wines in La Palma - but then maybe the volcanic terroir helps?
  16. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator


    Barbeito, but note this TN is 15 years old!

    Barbeito, Tinta Negra Mole 1995
    Madeira, Portugal, Fortified 89/100
    (2003) Sold in an elegant 500cl bottle, this fine single harvest medium/dry wine is 100% Tinta Negra Mole, made from the best four casks of the 1995 harvest and aged in French oak. Like all of these wines, this has around 19.5% alcohol. Pale to medium gold in colour, this is walnutty and warming, with notes of orange and spice, leading to a rich, fruit-cakey palate. There is plenty of freshness, with good acid balance and only a background sweetness. Good length too, and a very pure finish with no alcoholic burn. This is an exceptional example of Tinta Negra Mole. £15.95 Berry Bros. & Rudd
  17. Lovely reading this thread. Never been...when I was younger it had a reputation as an old people place, all the cruise ships etc. Well, now I’m old!

    The Island always had a great reputation for its hiking along the old vineyard paths. I’d love to hear about these and where they start from. Companies do Madeira walking tours but we tend to prefer to organise ourselves.

    Is Funchal the best place to stay?
  18. There is something of an elderly tourist rep which based on two visits 12 years apart is not entirely wrong! There is however as much activity as you could want.

    I do recommend Bernard's article.

    If you keep your eyes peeled BA holidays do periodic flash sales where you can get a hotel and club Europe from an airport not far from you for a steal. Lots of luggage allowance to allow you to bring plenty of well protected vino home...

    Although generally warm and pleasant, the island is not as scorched as Tenerife or Lanzarote can be.

    Have only ever stayed in Funchal.
  19. Thanks Neil. Will check out the article and look at BA. Although I’ve tended to discount BA we did find they were actually cheapest on a relatively recent short haul.
  20. I was going to say don't fall for that lunacy.
  21. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    I've been to the island four times, twice on business and twice on holiday (and will be back - for one day - on business in June). I *loved* the fact that the eldery, middle class Brits reputation was, in fact, totally accurate: not a single "all day English breakfast" sign outside cafes, no kiss-me-quick hats in evidence and not a single three lions tattoo and vest in sight. What I did find was some very good hotels, excellent restaurants, lovely scenery, and of course, the wines and vineyards. I did think on my last visit (business, about three years ago) that it might be attracting a slightly more diverse demographic, one of my favourite restaurants in a beautiful old house had closed, and I wondered if it was possibly - but only possibly - losing a bit of its charm in its effort to broaden its customer base.
  22. Our hotel last time (one of the many Pestana offerings) had a rather more teutonic flavour! My wife thought she'd stumbled into a German care home!
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
    David Crossley likes this.
  23. I did a lot of walking there, Dave. PM me if you like ;)
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  24. Not sure about "vineyard paths" but the levada walks are superb. Thoroughly recommend this guide which we've used on a couple of visits to the island:

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