Blandy’s is the kind of cellar where the more you know, the more you want to know, and won’t want to leave!
This quiet place over 200 years old in the centre of Funchal was once a hospital, a prison, even a monastery ( Mosteiro de São Francisco), before housing barrels and wine bottles.
It was turned into a winery by the Blandy family in 1840 and since then the brand has grown to become a worldwide trademark of Madeira wine. Together with Porto, Moscatel and Carcavelos, it makes one of the 4 Portuguese fortified wines and what sets it apart is the fact that, as it ages, instead of maturing in dark and dam p cellars, it prefers a cosy temperature and some light. A wine that enjoys warmth is definitely my kind of wine! 🙂
The great wooden casks, at Blandy’s made from Brazilian Shittah trees, rest on joists like flowerbeds in the attic of the cellar, to warm up and make the wonderful ambrosia.
Madeira’s wine is usually amber coloured. A beautiful dark gold, the consequence of the ageing process of the main varieties used: Boal, Sercial, Malvasia and Negra Mole.
At Blandy’s the tour starts in the former cooperage, followed by the barrels and casks room and the museum. You will hear about the family history and achievements, winemaking process and ageing, the particulars of each grape variety and, of course, the terroir, the only one in Madeira.
Towards the end, the very enthusiastic Rita, our guide, introduced the best part of the visit: the tasting. Personally not the highlight, nonetheless the perfect ending, flavourful and in liquid form, to the stories we had just heard.
Before leaving, I lingered in the main courtyard and surrounding rooms. I totally recommend you do the same! Explore the tasting room and wine bar, the shop with the brand’s creative merchandise and local produce, and take your time at one of the Frasqueira tables (also known as Vintage Madeira) where the walls are covered by the very best bottles by Blandy’s!
“My Goodness! Have you considered the fact that when this wine was made, Marie Antoinette was still alive?”- says Winston Churchill while tasting a glass of Terrantez 1789 during his vacations in Madeira in 1950