Barbeito Single Cask 119 B+E Colheita Canteiro Verdelho 2000
A fortified wine named after the solitary island from which it comes, Madeira’s home is a steep, volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that rises to over 6,000 feet at its highest point. As is the case with many wine styles of the world, Madeira was born more or less out of a mistake.
During the 1600 and 1700s, the island of Madeira was an important pit stop for sea treks to the Americas and the East Indies. Shippers would load up on Madeira wine on their way across the Atlantic. Given Madeira’s likelihood to spoil on the journey, they added a little brandy to help preserve it. The subsequent heating and cooling of the casks, as they made their way across the sea, deepened and improved the wines’ flavors.
Today there are two main types of Madeira. Blended Madeira is mostly inexpensive wine but there are a few remarkable aged styles. Single varietal Madeira, made as both non-vintage or single vintage wines, is usually the highest quality Madeira and has the longest aging potential. High quality Madeiras can improve in the bottle for decades.
Four different grape varieties are used.
Sercial shows lemony, spice and herbal notes with a stony mineral character and make great aperitif wines.
Verdelho is smoky and dry and pairs with a variety of foods.
Boal is complex with flavors of roasted coffee, caramel, cocoa and dates.
Malmsey is the sweetest and fruitiest with roasted nut and chocolate notes.
A significant grape in Madeira but capable of making a delightful Portugese dry white as well, Verdelho wines have a bright acidity and lovely lemon, pineapple and apple fruit qualities. Verdelho is great as an aperitif wine and as a pairing with raw fish and oysters.
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. Try it with potato leek soup or lobster bisque.