VintageTexas Sunday ‘Cyclopedia of Wine: Madeira

VintageTexas Sunday ‘Cyclopedia of Wine: Madeira

The Portuguese island 400 miles into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of northern Africa. Wines have been produced on this island since around the fifteenth century. However, this winegrowing and winemaking location gained distinction for the fortified wines enjoyed in colonial America. British officers returning from American brought the taste for Madeira back to England. The feelings about Madeira wines in America were so high back then that, five years before the more famous Boston Tea Party, a riot was staged on the Boston docks when the British imposed a tax on Madeira wine. Madeira wine was used in America to toast the Declaration of Independence and the presidential inauguration of George Washington.

Today, Madeira may be one of the most neglected of the world’s fine wines. However, in Texas one man has made Madeira wines his passion. Raymond Haak at Haak Vineyards and Winery ( in Santa Fe, Texas, makes two styles of Madeira, one based on the Lenoir grape (also called Jacquez) and another on Blanc Du Bois.

Haak Madeira Jacquez

Haak Vintage Madeira is made with 100% Jacquez grapes, grown in the Gulf Coast Region of Texas. It has a deep, caramel color, as well as aromas of coffee, caramel, walnuts and plums. These flavors are rich and balanced, with a long, sumptuous finish on the palate.

Haak Madeira Blanc Du Bois

Made from the white grape, Blanc du Bois, this wine opens up in the glass with aromatic fragrances of dried apricots and peaches covered with caramel. This sensation follows through on the palette with soft, buttery caramel coated apricots and peaches with a soft hint of green tea and fresh lemons.

Both Haak Madeiras are made using the traditional “Estufagem” (es too FAH jem) process, where the barrels of wine have been “madeirized” in a heated cellar especially constructed in the Haak Winery. The temperatures of the wine in the Estufagem average between 102°F to 106°F and the wine is aged under these conditions for up to six months.

Food to Pair with Madeira

Madeira is a delightful match with cheese, and works well as a pre-dinner sipper. The heavier Madeira’s also work well as dessert cordial. Madeira can also be used as a cooking wine for savory dishes and dessert sauces. Poultry and mushrooms go excellent with Madeira, as well as cheeses such as Fontina.

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  1. I like the brief history you’ve provided here Russ. It brings up the point though: If it’s made in Texas, should we call it Madeira? Or Texas Port? Both are traditional regions, with a rich history and are named for the place they come from. Just food for thought.

    • Bill, you bring up a good point. Thanks for inserting your comment.

      You are correct that any new lables that come up for approval that are for wines in Port or Madeira styles will have to use a different names. They can use something like “dessert style wines” or, alternatively, there is a new tradename for Port-styled wines in Texas called “Portejas”. However, Raymond Haak has the right to continue to use names of places like Madeira or wine styles like Port since he was using them before the cut off date after which an alternative name must be used.

      • I am one of the winemakers that does not have a grandfathered label, labels need to tell you what to expect and people expect something specific from Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay …

        When I read “Red Dessert Wine”, I am not sure what to expect, how is it made, is it made by chaptalisation or is it made by adding spirit during fermentation …

        What is weird about not allowing Port is that it is a technique and not an area, the area of production (AVA) is Douro Valley …

        I wish there was a “Port Style” denomination with rules of production (Spirit addition during fermentation, % of Residual sugar, Brix at harvest …) just the same way as you can write “Methode Champenoise” if you are making your sparkling wine using the traditional Champagne method.

  2. I agree with your assessment of the Port-style designation. However, I guess that Port referres to Portugal which is a place.

    Keep in mind that there is a Texas Port-style wine designation. It is the term:

    Portejas… The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, with the help of several members, has developed a new name and marketing campaign for a type of Texas wine entitled Portejas®. Members of TWGGA can use the Portejas® name on selected bottlings by entering into a licensing agreement with the TWGGA. What is Portejas®? Essentially, it is a Red or White wine made primarily from Texas grapes and either fermented or fortified above 14% alcohol. Members who use the Portejas® name in their labeling agree to pay TWGGA a small licensing fee of $1 per case, up to $500 per calendar year in which the wine was made.

    The goal is to grow the Portejas® brand so that it becomes recognizable all over the State of Texas and beyond. See the complete licensing agreement (link below). You can help support the Association by using the Portejas® name and creating name recognition “For Texas” in your region. It’s a great opportunity to promote a product that is uniquely Texas, showcases your great wine, and helps TWGGA at the same time.

    Thank you to Monty Dixon of Bar Z Wines for the Portejas® idea and name, and to Dave Stacy of Circle S Vineyards for helping with the paperwork and registered trademark. Call Jodie Post ffor more information, 817-424-0570 or email at

    Link to Portejas (r) license agreement:

  3. I’d rather be scorned for originality than praised for imitation. I suggest Texas actually make a whole new blend with each winery using their own specific concentrations. Port is actually a place by the way. It’s the city Porto (Oporto in English) and it’s where most of the wineries are located. I think that Texas AVA’s should individually sign the Napa Declaration on Place. That would put Texas on the map and would really garner respect.

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