West India Madeira
Justino’s Madeira Wines, S.A., established in 1953 but with roots dating back to 1870 as “Justino Henriques,” stands as one of the oldest and most esteemed producers and exporters of Madeira Wine. This illustrious family-owned company, renowned for its wine quality, is situated on the picturesque hillsides of Madeira, where grapes are meticulously handpicked from small terraces.
Today, Justino’s Madeira is home to one of the island’s most extensive stocks of Madeira wine, including oak-aged, high-quality offerings, catering to the most discerning of palates. Over the decades, it has grown to become one of the foremost names in Madeira Wine production and export.
In the United States, we proudly introduce “West India Madeira,” our exclusive private label, crafted during the pandemic’s peak. Each bottle carries a message that resonates with the resilient spirit of those who savor this exquisite Madeira wine. It reflects the journey it undertook, often fraught with challenges, symbolizing strength, resilience, and ultimately, the creation of a smooth and complex wine.
Belonging to Portugal, Madeira Island is located about 560 miles southwest of Lisbon, and 370 miles west of the North African coast.
Madeira, an island on key trading routes between East and West, has a storied history of wine production. In the 18th century, fortifying the wine with spirits made it resilient to the harsh tropical conditions encountered during sea voyages, which contributed to its popularity. Madeira, a fortified wine with a storied history spanning over 400 years, enjoys a distinguished reputation as one of the world’s most revered and well-known wines. A hallmark of Madeira wine is its elevated alcohol content, leading to an array of styles ranging from dry to sweet.
The rich history of Madeira wine is intertwined with the island’s identity, earning it the title of the “island of wine.” Notably, it was a favored beverage for toasting significant events, including the Declaration of Independence in 1776 .Once the preferred drink of luminaries like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Madeira wine is cherished for its versatility and indestructibility. It can be stored for years with minimal quality loss, thanks to its fortification.
These traditional methods and geophysical conditions necessitate the manual harvesting of grapes, adding to the wine’s distinctive character. With 1,600 winegrowers on the island, Justino’s sources grapes from 800 of them.
Madeira’s unique terroir, influenced by an oceanic, tropically-influenced climate and volcanic soil, poses challenges like high rainfall and fungal diseases. Vines on the island thrive on hillsides, cultivated in small terraces known as “poios,” surrounded by sturdy grey basalt stone walls. To combat disease, Madeira vineyards often employ low trellises called “latada” to elevate the canopy.
Justino’s, one of the oldest Madeira wine producers since 1870, remains the epitome of dynamic innovation. Credit goes to their visionary chief oenologist and general director, Juan Teixeira, who has ushered in over two decades of innovation while upholding the traditions and authenticity that define Madeira wines.
Traditionally, specific grape varieties like Sercial, Malvasia, Boal, and Verdelho thrive in distinct microclimates around the island. These carefully nurtured wines age in barrels at the vast Justino’s lodge, benefiting from the sun’s gentle warmth. Madeira wine distinguishes itself from table wines with a remarkable diversity of styles, encompassing dry, crisp styles to nutty, rich, and full-bodied varieties, high alcohol content (ranging from 19% to 22% vol.), a broad spectrum of sweetness levels, and diverse color ranges.
In essence, Justino’s Madeira Wines and their exclusive “West India Madeira” brand represent a legacy of excellence, a testament to the enduring appeal of this remarkable wine, and a tribute to the island’s rich winemaking heritage.
Distributed via Craft Cellars, Craft Collective’s wine division, offering a carefully curated selection of wine from small, artisan producers worldwide, with a focus on quality, passion, and unique, distinctive wines.