The Barbeitos, on the other hand, entered the business much later, in 1946. Yet, their accomplishment is nearly as great, given not only the number of firms that have since vanished, but the fact that they entered the business during a particularly dark time for Madeira. In the early 1990s, Manuela Barbeito began to turn over the reins of the company to her son Ricardo Freitas. Armed with a history degree from the University of Lisbon, Ricardo not only brought a deep respect for Madeira’s classical roots, he also brought new energy and new ideas to the company. One of these ideas was to restore the role that Madeira once had as a companion to food. Ricardo also joined with The Rare Wine Co. to create our pioneering Historic Series Madeiras, which have pumped enormous new vitality into the once-vibrant American market for Madeira. Of course, Ricardo is continuing his grandfather’s and mother’s legacy of sourcing great old wines, and preserving them for future generations. But he is also creating his own legacy: a series of Madeiras he calls his “Signature” wines. These handcrafted wines combine the best elements of Madeira’s classical tradition with Ricard own quest for purity and vineyard and varietal expression. Made in tiny lots, their astonishingly graceful style has prompt British wine critic Jancis Robinson to call Barbeito the “Lafite of Madeira.”
Lots of citrus fruits in the still quite youthful bouquet. Lemon peel, the slightest orange peel scent as well. It’s a mature, yet youthful and refreshing feeling on the nose. Oriental spices, clove, nutmeg and curry especially, then a green feeling together with old wood, stone cellar and fudge. The acidity is really marked in this one and beautifully balanced with the moderate sweetness and slight green unripe lemon note. Sugar cane, spices, herbs and dried tobacco. Apricots and salty almonds. The concentration and length impresses.