In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Madeira was the United States’ most coveted wine.
Every public event—from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to George Washington’s Inauguration—was toasted with a glass of Madeira. For more than 150 years, no other wine rivaled it in the eyes of connoisseurs.
But after the Civil War, Madeira wine drifted into obscurity, the victim of a series of natural, political and economic calamities. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that America once again embraced this enigmatic wine, helped in no small part by The Rare Wine Co.’s creation of its Historic Series.
The goal of these remarkable wines was to introduce a new generation of American wine lovers not only to our shared history with Madeira, but to the wine’s magical quality: its astonishing bouquet, its glorious richness and balance, and its versatility as an aperitif, dessert wine and food wine.
With this in mind, in 1998 we began working with Vinhos Barbeito’s owner, Ricardo Freitas, to create a series of Madeiras reflecting the style and complexity that enchanted our forefathers. The Rare Wine Co. had long been known as America’s pre-eminent source of Vintage Madeiras from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries; yet, Ricardo was perfectly positioned to help us. He, too, possessed a remarkable library of old Madeira, but he also had a unique understanding of the qualities we sought. And, for the project, he could contribute wines ranging in age from ten to sixty years, allowing us to produce superbly complex, aged Madeiras at affordable prices.