RWC Historic Series
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, madeira was the United States’ most coveted wine. Every public event—from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to George Washington’s Inauguration—was toasted with a glass of madeira. For more than 150 years, no other wine rivaled it in the eyes of connoisseurs. But after the Civil War, madeira wine drifted into obscurity, the victim of a series of natural, political and economic calamities. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that America once again embraced this enigmatic wine, helped in no small part by The Rare Wine Co.’s creation of its Historic Series.
The goal of these remarkable wines is to introduce a new generation of American wine lovers not only to the history of Madeira, but to the wine’s magical quality: its astonishing bouquet, its glorious richness and balance, and its versatility as an aperitif, dessert wine and food wine.
With this in mind, in 1998, Mannie Berk, owner of The Rare Wine Co., began working with Vinhos Barbeito’s owner, Ricardo Freitas, to create a series of madeiras reflecting the style and complexity that enchanted our forefathers. The Rare Wine Co. had long been known as America’s preeminent source of vintage madeiras from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries; yet, Ricardo was perfectly positioned to help us. He possessed a remarkable library of old Madeira, but he also had a unique understanding of the qualities Mannie sought. Also, he could contribute wines ranging in age from ten to sixty years, allowing The Rare Wine Co. to produce superbly complex, aged Madeiras at affordable prices.
To emphasize America’s deep historical connection to Madeira, each wine in the series is named for a U.S. city where Madeira was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Thus, Charleston Sercial and Savannah Verdelho celebrate the South’s love of drier Madeiras, while Boston Bual and New York Malmsey acknowledge the North’s appreciation of sweeter Madeiras. Each bottle bears an early engraving from that city, along with a back label describing the wine and America’s special link to Madeira’s illustrious history.
Among the many virtues of Madeira is that it is not subject to temperature variations, so that it can be stored just about anywhere in the home. It also keeps for months, if not years, after opening. Just put a cork or stopper in the bottle, and store it in your wine cellar or even a kitchen cabinet.
Chicago Tribune: Madeira - a historic sip