• Leacock's Madeira Wine
  • Madeira Wine
  • Leacock's Est. 1760

Our History

John Leacock sailed to Madeira from the United Kingdom (after the death of his father) in 1741 and at the age of 15 became the youngest apprentice at the firm of Madeira merchants, Catanach and Murdoch, staying until his contract expired on 11 March 1749. During his apprenticeship, he had been in constant contact with an old-school friend, John Patient, residing at that time in Charlestown, South Carolina who suggested that they themselves should commence trading. Leacock agreed and this marks the birth of the now world famous company.

Leacock's Madeira Wine His partnerships and business associates are not easy to follow. We do however know that George Spence (former partner of a rival shipping firm, Newton and Spence - now known as Cossart & Gordon), joined him in 1758, Michael Nowlan in 1759 and John Russell Spence, son of George Spence joined in 1762.

By far the most distinguished of the family was Thomas Slapp Leacock whose tenacity in identifying and treating the phylloxera vatatrix vine disease at his Saint John vineyard saved the island's traditional grape varieties.
His initial treatment of applying a solution of resin and turpentine in hot water to the principal roots of the vine proved to be a successful though expensive form of preventing the disease. He later donated his outstanding research to Cambridge University in Britain.

His son, John Leacock, joined the Comissão Anti-Filoxérica where upon it was decided to establish a treatment post and a nursery of American vines at his Saint John vineyard. It had now become widely known that grafting the local vines onto the phylloxera resistant American rootstocks proved to be the only efficient method of preventing the disease.

In 1925, the wine industry was going through tough times and so both Leacock's and Blandy's amalgamated their interests and joined the Madeira Wine Association (now the Madeira Wine Company). Leacock's today is one of the main brands in the company and whose main markets include the United States of America, the Scandinavian countries, and the United Kingdom.

Madeira Island Terroirs

The Island Terroirs

The island of Madeira, of volcanic origin, was discovered in 1419 by the Portuguese Captain, João Gonçalves Zarco, and is an archipelago composed of two inhabited islands – Madeira and Porto Santo – and two small uninhabited islets, the Desertas and the Selvagens. Madeira’s location in the Atlantic made it an important strategic port of call which led to the rapid expansion of the island’s wine, especially in countries such as the United States of America. It was so popular in the USA that in the 18th century, Madeira wine is reported to have represented over 75% of all wine imported into this market.

The archipelago is situated at 32º 38’ latitude north and 16º 54’ longitude west, about 1100kms off the coast of Portugal, and 590 kms off the coast of Morocco. The total area of the island is 741 kms2, of which the vineyards occupy about 490 hectares.

The island relief is steep and a mountain range that climbs up to 1.862m (6.109Ft) in altitude above sea-level – the highest peak is Pico Ruivo – runs the length of the island, virtually dividing it in two, and causing 7 different micro-climates that have a determining effect on where the vineyards are planted.

The overall sub-tropical and temperate climate, together with the fertile volcanic soils provide perfect conditions for the growth of a wide range of different crops.


Madeira is rich and diverse in terroirs. As a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the vineyards are exposed to the ocean breeze and the grapes from vineyards planted at lower levels can show saline and iodine notes.

The soils are acidic, rich in mineral, iron and phosphor, and poor in potassium, which all contribute to the trademark acidity of the wine. In fact, the acidity is one of the most remarkable assets of the wines, allowing this unique wine to keep fresh even after having been bottled for many years.

Irrigation is provided by an ancient system of canals called “levadas” that brings water from the mountains down to the agricultural plots, until the ocean

PDO Madeira

(Protected Designation of Origin) Main grape varieties distribution map

madeira wine map

Grape Variety - Tinta Negra

Negramoll was thought to be a native variety of the Canaries and Madeira (under the name Tinta Negra Mole), where it was already widespread in the 19th century. However, recent DNA studies have shown that Negramoll is identical to Mollar, an old variety from Andalucia, possibly from Cadiz where it was first mentioned in 1787. It is therefore likely that this variety was introduced from Andalucia to the Canaries and to Madeira in or before the 18th century. Here it was given the name Negramoll or (Tinta) Negra Mole (officially Tinta Negra since 2000), based on the old Andalusian synonym of Mollar Negro.

Under the name Tinta Negra Mole, the variety dominates on Madeira. According to official statistics there were just 277 hectares in 2009, cultivated in Funchal and Câmara de Lobos in the south and São Vincente in the north. It is by far the most widely planted varietal on the island and represents between 80-85% of all wine produced on Madeira. (The second is verdelho with 47 ha). This dominance was particularly marked when phylloxera hit the island in 1872, when growers preferred to plant the more robust dark-skinned Tinta Negra Mole, rather than the light skinned white varietals.

Drinking Leacock's Madeira

Drinking Madeira Wine

Storing and serving Madeira Wine

All Madeira wines should be stored upright, away from direct sunlight and just below room temperature. The majority of wines are all bottled ready to be drunk and will not improve with age.

Vintage Madeira's will mellow out during the first two years after bottling and they have the fascinating ability to remain in excellent condition for many years, even for centuries. Older vintages should be decanted to remove any deposit that has built up over the years and should be open well in advance before drinking. A general rule is to open the wine one day for every 10 years that the wine has been in bottle. Once opened, Madeira wine can last for many months if stored in the correct conditions.

When it comes to enjoying Madeira, we suggest that the dry and medium dry styles be served chilled (12°C) and the medium rich and rich styles be served slightly chilled (16°C). The glassware is important we suggest that all materials should be enjoyed using a typical port glass.
Pairing with Madeira wine
Pairing Leacock's Madeira Wine
Wine Pairing Leacock's

Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing with Leacock's Madeira

Discover our Wines

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Our Cocktails

Madeira On Ice

5 cl Madeira LEACOCK'S Dry
15 cl Fizzy drink Lemonade
3 cl Lime Juice Concentrate

Orange Slice
Lemon Slice

Madeira Soul

25 cl Tonic Water
2 cl Orange Juice
1 cl Lime Juice

Orange Zest
Lime Zest
Mint Leaf

Perfect Host

4 cl Madeira LEACOCK'S Dry
3 cl Gin
2 cl Passion Fruit Pulp
1,5 cl Lime Juice
1,5 cl Sugar Syrup

Dehydrated Lime
Bay Leaf

Madeira Gold

Winner of madeira wine
cocktails contest 2018

5cl LEACOCK'S Madeira wine 5 y.o. dry
3cl Orange liqueur
1cl Fig syrup
5cl Lemonade zero sugar

Place a few ice cubes in a shaker, add the Madeira wine, orange liqueur and the fig syrup.
Shake well, pour the contents into a glass and add the lemonade. Add a slice of orange peel.

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