Estufagem is the process of making Madeira wine by hearting the wine in large tanks, estufas.

The process of heating the wine is now highly technical and takes place in large tanks.

Typically a Madeira wine will be heated gently and cooled in a cyclical process over 3 months. Differing wines and producers apply slightly differing techniques, but wines are heated to between 45 degrees centigrade and 50 degrees.

The wines will then be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years and often longer depending on the style of wine being produced.

Justino's estufas
Justino estufas for producing Madeira wine, courtesy of Broadbent Madeira wines

The whole process is highly regulated and the technical standards to be followed are closely mandated and supervised by IVBAM.

Estufagem produced Madeira wines are almost all made from the Tinta negra grape.

This remarkable and versatile grape is the most commonly grown grape on Madeira. It is quite a testament to the skill of the growers and producers that it can produce such varieties of Madeira wine, from dry to rich in spectrum.

Where the grapes are grown influences the style of wines that can be produced. Altitude and location play a key part in the style of the wine produced from Tinta Negra grapes.

The skill of the winemaker in maturing the wines from initial fermentation to estufa and maturation also plays a crucial part in delivering quality Madeira wines with a range of styles and sweetness produced from this one grape utilising the Estufagem method of production.