Barbeito Madeira Verdelho Reserva Velha 1947
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
A steep, volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean that rises to over 6,000 feet at its highest point, Madeira actually sits closer to Morocco than Portugal, the country to which it belongs.
Today the vineyards of the island cover tiny step-like terraces called poios, carved from the basalt bedrock. Aptly named Madeira, this fortified wine comes in two main styles. Blended Madeira is mostly inexpensive wine but there are a few remarkable aged styles. Single varietal Madeira (made from Sercial, Verdelho, Boal or Malmsey), is usually the highest quality and has the potential to improve in the bottle for decades.
While capable of making a delightful Portugeuse dry white wine, great as an aperitif and for pairing with raw fish and oysters, Verdelho is also a major grape in the production of Madeira. While many less expensive Madeira wines can be blends of different years or grapes, including Verdelho, single-varietal Madeira represent the highest quality versions that also have long aging capacities. Sercial, Boal, Malmsey and Verdelho are the best Madeira grapes. Of the four, Verdelho is the most concentrated and smoky. It is dry, intense, spicy and is flexible in food pairings. Somm Secret—Like many other fortified wines, Madeira made of Verdelho can tolerate extreme aging and some rare bottles can still be found from the late 19th/early 20th century.