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DOC area for a famous dessert wine named after the Portuguese island of Madeira The archipelago also includes the smaller island of Porto Santo and the uninhabited archipelago of Ilhas Desertas. Madeira is located in the Atlantic Ocean 500 km north of the Canary Islands, 951 km from the Portuguese mainland and 737 km from the coast of Africa (Morocco). It was discovered in 1420 by the navigator João Gonçalves Zarco (1380-1467), who found a densely forested island (Madeira means "island of forests"). The Portuguese set the island on fire, the fire raged for seven years. Although this destroyed almost all vegetation, the wood ash and the already existing volcanic soil created ideal conditions for wine growing. At the end of the 16th century a commercially important viticulture is documented. The port in Funchal quickly developed into a strategically important stopover, which all ships on their way to Africa, Asia and South America called at. Here the ships also supplied themselves with wine. But these mostly spoiled on the long sea voyages. For this reason, sprittling with brandy distilled from sugar cane gradually became more common, especially to make the wines last longer. However, this did not become the norm until the middle of the 18th century

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