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Spotlight on Madeira 
Barbeito

Barbeito is a family-owned company formed in 1946, and their philosophy is to offer 100% canteiro wines, with no added caramel or deacidification. Old French oak is used. This is authentic Madeira. One of the innovations that Barbeito has pioneered is bottling single harvest (colheita) wines in 50 cl bottles. The range was presented by Ricardo De Freitas, managing director and grandson of the founder, both formally and then later over dinner at Moro in Clerkenwell.

I asked Ricardo about the wines from before 1946, which was when the company was formed. It turns out that these were bought from families on the island with older stocks. Iím deeply impressed by the Barbeito wines, and the notes here, compiled from separate tastings (all dated) speak for themselves. UK agents are Raymond Reynolds.

Tasted in October 2008:

Veramar Boal Reserve
Dense, sweet and expressive with bright citrussy notes. Rich and full bodied. 89/100

'VB' Verdelho-Boal Lote 1
Complex spicy nose is sweet and full with a lively citrussy, tangerine-like edge. The fresh lemony palate is lively and complex. 93/100

Boal 10 Years Old Reserve
Waxy, complex nose is thrilling, nutty and expressive. The palate is just beautiful, with bright orange and citrus fruits, together with dried fruits, and some sweetness. 94/100

Malvasia 10 Years Old Reserve
Malvasia is often referred to as Malmsey in Madeira. This is sweet, fresh and complex with some nutty notes. Bright. 91/100

Sercial 10 Years Old Reserve
Complex, pungent, herby, citrussy, nutty nose. The palate is fresh, bright and tangy with some citrussy fruit. 93/100

Malvasia 20 Years Old Reserve Lote 7199
Deep, complex, intense nose leads to a super-concentrated, limey, spicy, broad palate with sweetness and acid in lovely tension. 93/100

Malvasia Special Reserve 30 Year Old
Deep orange colour. Madly complex nose is really thrilling, with orange, lemons, nuts and spice. The off-dry palate is viscous and super-concentrated with complex spice and citrus characters. Eternal finish. 95/100

Single Harvest 1997
Complex, herby, fresh, dense and lively. Delicious. 92/100

Malvasia Colheita 1994 Single Cask 232c
Very rich, intense and concentrated, with raisin, casky notes, herbs and citrus. Broad and quite sweet. 93/100

Boal 1982 Fransqueira
Complex nose showing old furniture, spice, nuts and herbs. Viscous, broad palate wit a nice citrussy finish. Thrillingly bright and expressive with a crazy long finish. 95/100

Tasted in May 2004:

Barbeito 1996 Single Harvest
This is made from the Tinta Negra Mole grape, and is the follow on from the hugely successful 1995. Lovely intense lemony, spicy nose is quite complex and savoury. The palate is fairly rich and vivid with spicy complexity and great intensity. Sweet but savoury at the same time; brilliant stuff. Very good/excellent 93/100 (about £15 for a half)

Barbeito Sercial Reserve 10 years old
Complex and spicy with a lifted lemony acid edge to the nose. Bright high-acid palate with lovely complexity. Fresh and nutty, vivid and rich. Really nice. Very good/excellent 92/100

Barbeito Boal Reserve Veramar
Slightly shy nutty nose with some subtle spice notes, too. The palate is rich and concentrated and has an unusual acidic edge. Very appealing and with great length. Quite sweet. Very good/excellent 90/100

Barbeito Boal Reserve 10 years old
Rounded, nutty caramel and spice nose is quite restrained. Nutty, open palate with unusual acidity and great concentration. Spicy, long finish. A thoughtful, complex wine thatís quite sweet. Very good/excellent 91/100

Barbeito 20 year old Malvasia
Complex, intriguing nose with nutty, spicy, caramelly notes. The palate is rich and quite sweet with good acidity. Quite powerful with a spicy, raisiny complexity dominating. Great balance and length here. Very good/excellent 94/100

Barbeito Verdelho 1980
Subtle, complex nose of crystalline fruits, spice and lemony lifted acidity. Very unusual complex palate showing high acidity and a nutty, lemony character. Interesting stuff. Very good/excellent 92/100

Barbeito Verdelho 1981 (cask sample)
Very complex intense, spicy nose with notes of tar, spice, caramel and fudge. The palate has lovely rich complexity with high acidity in an explosive mouthful of flavour. Quite lovely. Excellent 95/100

Barbeito Malvasia 1994 (cask sample)
This will be a single cask release. Very sweet spicy, toffee and caramel nose. Complex, sweet and spicy on the palate with some raisiny notes and good acidity. Nice spiciness. A rich, complex style. Very accessible with some woody notes. Very good/excellent 92/100

Barbeito Malvasia 1885
Orange brown. Lovely complex nose of sweet raisins, tar and spice Ė very beguiling. The palate is explosively rich with lovely acidity. Deep, complex and incredibly long with some caramel and spice. Breathtaking. Excellent 98/100

Barbeito Malvasia 1886
Profound, intense nose of tar and spice with some caramelly notes. The palate is explosively rich with great concentration, high acidity and complex flavours of caramel and tar. Great length. Excellent 96/100

Tasted in May 2003

Barbeito Single Harvest 1995
Iíve had this a number of times now. Itís made from unfashionable Tinta Negra Mole, a cross between Grenache and Pinot Noir thatís been grown on the island since the 19th century. Made in a medium-dry style, it has a lovely complex, spicy nose with a touch of marmalade and raisins. The palate has some sweetness and lovely vivid acidity, with a nice orange peel bitterness. Lots of complexity. Very good/excellent 92/100 (Around £14, various outlets including Berry Bros)

Barbeito Boal Reserve Veremar
Complex nose with raisiny, caramel notes and an acid lift. The palate shows a good concentration with a medium sweet character and high acidity giving freshness. Lovely. Very good+ (£8.99)

Barbeito 10 year old Boal
Lovely smoky, spicy complexity to the nose with raisiny caramel notes. Really lovely spicy palate showing a lemony edge and good acidity. Some sweetness but overall brilliantly balanced with marmaladey complexity. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£20)

Barbeito 20 year old blend Malvasia
Theyíre the first company to try this: a blend of four different Malvasias, the oldest 30 years old. Intense, herby, spicy nose with freshness from the lifted lemony acid. Complex and beguiling on the palate: spicy, intense, rich and full. Complex and well balanced. Very good/excellent 94/100

Barbeito Malvasia 1993 Colheita Single Cask
Just 549 50 cl bottles of this made. Lovely forward nose is warm, rounded and spicy with some caramel notes. Marmaladey and spicy. Explosive palate is spicy, rich and intense with high acidity and lots of complexity. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£17.95 for 50 cl)

Barbeito Verdelho 1980
This comes from three 620 litre French oak casks whose contents were blended before bottling. The nose displays nice savoury, slightly herbal spicy complexity. The palate is savoury and rich with a spicy edge. Fine and elegant with high acidity, a waxy texture and a hint of sweetness. Very good/excellent 91/100

Barbeito Verdelho 1902
Some 200 litres came from this cask, which was bottled directly from the cask itself. It sells for around 250 Euros ex cellar: this was the wine served at Ricardoís mother and fatherís wedding. Deep orange brown colour. Massively complex tarry, caramelly nose which is quite unusual, with woody, savoury notes and an acid lift. The palate is hugely complex, showing tarry, spicy, vanilla and raising notes together with lots of acidity and a massive length. Quite amazing, and presumably an immortal wine. Excellent 98/100

Barbeito Malvazia 1900
Complex herby nose is herby, leathery and spicy with some sweet raisiny notes. Thereís lovely caramelly and raisiny complexity on the palate with huge acidity. Bracing and spicy with enormous length. Marmalade and citrus fruits on the finish. Excellent 95/100

Back to Madeira overview
see also: an earlier report on Barbeito's wines; and a more recent one (May 2004)

 
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