In the mid-to-late 15th century, British merchant ships sailing to the East Indies would call at the Portuguese island of Madeira where they would replenish their supplies and take on board casks of the local wines. To preserve the wine during the long voyage through the tropics, brandy was added. Upon their return, sometimes years later, it was discovered that having crossed the equator twice and being tossed around during the long and often hot sea voyages had transformed the contents of the casks into complex, very aromatic, intensely flavoured wines. By the late 1700s Madeira wine was at the peak of its popularity, particularly in England and the American colonies. However, demand for these wines soon experienced an unexpected decline thanks to Prohibition in the U.S and a reduction in quality due to mildew and phylloxera affecting the island.
Today we have seen a resurgence in both demand and quality for Maderia,  and while the wines no longer travel deep in the hulls of ships, they undergo many years of barrel age in the warm island warehouses. In fact, by law, vintage Madeira must be aged in cask for a minimum of 20 years before being bottled. In many instances it is then held in large, glass carboys for a much longer period. This deliberate heating and slow oxidation (contrary to everything we've ever been taught about handling fine wines) produces wines of infinite complexity and almost ageless longevity.  Vintage Madeira, like vintage Port, is from grapes harvested in a single year and fortified with the addition of high-quality grape brandy.  Traditionally the grape variety is mentioned on the label and vintage Madeira must be 100% of the mentioned grape. The style can range from rich, sweet and almost opulent (Malmsey) to light, and almost dry (Sercial). However, all Madeiras, no matter the level of sweetness have a distinct, refreshing tang on the palate that makes them so mouth-wateringly appealing.  In addition, once opened, a bottle will keep for weeks, if not months, and a single glass can fill a room with its heady aromas.
The five most widely used grapes of Madeira are:
Malmsey (or Malvasia) - the sweetest and richest Madeira, but never cloying.
Bual (or Boal) - often the darkest in colour, medium-rich, sweet.
Verdelho - medium-dry.
Sercial - the driest style and an excellent aperitif.
Terrantez - can range in style from medium-dry to medium-sweet.
Today we have the privilege of offering 10 rare vintages from the cellars of D'Oliveiras. This small, family owned company is home to some of the greatest expressions of Madeira available in the world. No other producer on the island can boast such an extensive collection of century-old Madeira as D’Oliveiras since the family has held on to many of its most famous vintages before slowly releasing them into the market for collectors to enjoy.

There are very limited quantities of each so do place your order as soon as possible to avoid missing out. Wines will be available for delivery in early Autumn.
1899 D'Oliveiras Terrantez
2 bottles 
£1,182 per bottle inc. VAT

100 points | Antonio Galloni, Vinous 
The 1899 Terrantez is another iconic Madeira from D'Oliveira. It offers the classic Terrantez profile of savory herbs and spice, but with tremendous density that has built over a hundred and twenty years in barrel! There's plenty of acid, too, it's just packed into the wine's huge frame. Dark cherry, plum, lavender, sage, menthol, and licorice build into the huge, palate-staining finish. All the elements are perfectly woven together. Unforgettable.
1904 D'Oliveiras Bual
6 bottles
£1,074 per bottle inc. VAT

98 points | Stuart Pigott, James Suckling
Super-clean and now dry (although Bual is actually quite a sweet wine) with stacks of dark rye bread crust, old leather, balsamic and walnut aromas. Extremely dense and compact on the very focused palate. Stunning freshness at the finish. Drink or hold.
1905 D'Oliveiras Verdelho
1 bottle
£822 per bottle inc. VAT
98 points | Antonio Galloni, Vinous 
The 1905 Verdelho is magical. Rich, deep, and timeless, the 1905 is an absolute delight to taste. Deeply pitched spice notes open first. Leather, cedar, incense, coconut, graphite, tobacco, black cherry, caramel, and chocolate appear later. There's plenty of structure supporting it all. This immortal Verdelho is the stuff of legends. Readers lucky enough to own it should be thrilled. I certainly would be!
1908 D'Oliveiras Bual
6 bottles
£1,080 per bottle inc. VAT

100 points | Stuart Pigott, James Suckling
The mahogany color already suggests great age, and when you smell this extraordinary Bual Madeira with its dense dried dates, savory and antique furniture aromas you feel like you have been transported back more than a century. Mind-blowing concentration and a flavor that balances on a knife edge between richness and savory, this is simultaneously an absolutely classic Madeira and a totally unique wine. What words can adequately describe the complexity of the almost endless finish? Drink or hold
1912 D'Oliveiras Verdelho
4 bottles
£846 per bottle inc. VAT

99 points | Stuart Pigott, James Suckling
This is a great beauty from the get go, but what happens at the totally spectacular finish could make you fall off your chair! The aromas span the entire spectrum of caramelized, dried stone fruit and citrus aromas. Also pu-erh tea. And both the balance and inner stability of this extraordinary wine are off the scale. Drink or hold.
Also available: 

2 bottles 1850 D'Oliveiras Verdelho @ £1,770 per bottle inc. VAT
1 bottle 1875 D'Oliveiras Sercial @ £1584 per bottle inc. VAT
1 bottle 1901 D'Oliveiras Malvasia @ £1,044 per bottle inc. VAT
3 bottles 1907 D'Oliveiras Malvasia @ £924 per bottle inc. VAT
1 bottle 1910 D'Oliveiras Sercial @ £750 per bottle inc. VAT

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