Tinto Negra Mole – a new grape for us

Broadbent Madeira Reserve; fig, orange, honey, walnut, and dates
Broadbent Madeira Reserve; fig, orange, honey, walnut, and dates

“What is that nut? Burnt popcorn? Not almond…”

“Not burnt, I don’t get any carbon, but toasted nut.  Not almond, walnut?”

“Cashew, pecan, walnut… walnut, toasted walnut.”

“Yup, I think toasted walnut.”

One small excerpt from our conversation during the first tasting of Broadbent Madeira Reserve, 5-year-old that came home with my terrific hubby from our favorite little shop yesterday while I was working.  My initial impression of the flavor was raisins – and the rich burnt orange color didn’t dissuade my thinking.  Upon further sniffing and tasting I would more thoroughly describe this fortified wine as fig-orange marmalade and walnuts with a delicate honeyed date finish.

Sweet Madeira from tint negra mole grapes
Sweet Madeira from tint negra mole grapes

Madeira Island off of Portugal, but geographically closer to Morocco, is a maritime-tropical island with quite a bit of rain and warm temperatures.  Viticulture has been a large part of the island’s history despite powdery mildew and botrytis bunch rot infestations due to the warm wet weather, phylloxera infestation in the mid-1800’s, US Prohibition and Russian Revolution in the first half of the 1900’s which nearly destroyed it – tourism still trumps viticultural endeavors there now.

This particular wine, most Madeira, is made from the tinta negra mole grape as the original grapes were becoming scarce, if not nearly extinct, after the various pathogenic infestations and reduced plantings that followed the phylloxera outbreak.  It is a cross between Grenache and Pinot Noir that provide the ‘negra’ for black and ‘mole’ for soft respectively; the juice is removed from the skins as it is pressed.

Like its cousin, Port, Madeira, is a fortified wine.  In the early days of colonialism and world domination wine from Madeira was exported and subjected to the tossing within the ships hold, heat from the close quarters and lack of air circulation.  What arrived at the point of destination was drastically different from the wine that left the island.  It was a returned shipment that made the islanders consider less costly means of producing the altered wine.  Oxidizing and heating the wine to a simmer, fortifying it and aging it in the barrels it had previously traveled in developed what we now know as ‘Madeira’.

We look forward to sipping from this bottle for a good long while; there is no worry of oxidation it since this has already been done.  Cheers!

One thought on “Tinto Negra Mole – a new grape for us

  1. I think what I liked best about the Madeira is the flavor is not so overpowering like some ports. The raisin, nutty flavor is reminiscent of a well made fruitcake. It’s truly a fantastic fortified wine.


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