BLANDY'S

BLANDY'S

MADEIRA
Owner:
Blandy Family
Website
The Blandys are unique in being the only family of all the original founders of the Madeira wine trade to still own and manage their own original wine company. The family has played a leading role in the development of Madeira wine throughout its long history and members of the family continue to live on Madeira, maintaining a tradition that goes back to 1811.
BLANDY'S

It has long been said that John Blandy, the founder of the family business, arrived in Madeira in 1807 aged twenty-three as a quartermaster to General Beresford, commander of the British garrison. Yet prolonged research among army lists yielded no mention of a John Blandy serving in Madeira. The truth was found instead by the Madeira wine lover and expert Emmanuel ‘Mannie’ Berk. In August 2006 he found a letter of introduction sent from London to Messrs Newton, Gordon, Murdoch, wine merchants in Madeira, which immediately solved the family mystery: ‘Sirs! At the desire of our particular friend, Richard Fuller Esq., Banker in this City, we beg leave to introduce Mr John Blandy who visits your Island on account of ill health, and wishes to obtain employment in a Counting House. We shall be obliged if you can promote his views, and accordingly recommend him to your attention.’ The letter is dated 23 December 1807, implying that John Blandy arrived in the island early in 1808 rather than with British forces some months before. It was during the following years after John Blandy arrived that the family became established on Madeira, not only through the wine trade, but also as managers and agents of ships and their cargo using Funchal as a port of call. John Blandy's son Charles Ridpath Blandy, continued the business. During the disastrous oidium plague in 1852 it was he who had the foresight to buy up a great proportion of the stocks of old wine on the island, thus safeguarding his company's ability to continue selling fine Madeira.
In 1925 Blandy's decided to join the Madeira Wine Association; a group of wine companies formed together to maximise global exposure and minimise overheads in a world where the export market was experiencing an all time low. Led by the Blandy family, this association managed to survive the bleak years whilst many individual companies fell by the wayside.
In 1989 in order to further expand the global market, the Blandy's approached another Anglo-Portuguese family, the Symingtons of Oporto (Port producers since the 19th century) and offered them a partnership in the newly named Madeira Wine Company (MWC). The Symingtons brought an extensive world-wide distribution network and a total quality approach as well as valuable winemaking experience gained through their many years as leading members of the Port Trade.
Michael and Chris Blandy are the 6th and 7th generations to work in the business.

Madeira is a fortified wine found only on the mountainous Atlantic island of the same name.The vines are grown from sea level up to a height of 600 metres and the wines range from dry to very rich. The principal grape varieties are Malmsey, Bual, Verdelho, Sercial and Tinta Negra Mole. The harvest starts in mid-August and is completed by the middle of October when a wine festival takes place in Funchal. The grapes are all picked by hand from the small terraced vineyards situated on the steep slopes around the island and then transported to the 'adegas' -wineries- where the winemaking takes place.

The Madeira Wine Company uses the most modern wine making technology whilst at the same time respecting the age-old traditions of Madeira wine. At the 'adega' the wines are selected and pressed to separate the must from the skins. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and is stopped with the addition of grape brandy when the appropriate amount of natural grape sugar has been converted into natural alcohol.