D’Oliveira is one of the greatest of the classic Madeira shippers, and one of the few to survive from the pre-phylloxera era. Founded in 1850, and an amalgamation of firms dating back to 1820, it is today housed in cellars that date from 1619. This small jewel of a company has always been owned by the D’Oliveira family, its vineyard holdings built up over time through a series of marriages with other wine producing families.
But what is really extraordinary is that D’Oliveira has held on to many of its most famous vintages, creating a unique, and irreplaceable, stock of old wines. And remarkably they are all D’Oliveira wines, not purchased from other shippers or growers. Thus, whether an 1862 Sercial or a 1922 Bual, all were produced by the D’Oliveiras and their ancestors, and generally from their own vineyards in São Martinho, one of the great viticultural sites in Madeira, lying just to the west of Funchal along the island’s south coast.
D'Olivera's house style can best be characterized by very powerful aromatics, great lushness and viscosity, incredible structure, and a tangy character that is essential to the finest wines of the 18th and 19th centuries. As is typical of the most traditional of houses, wines are kept in cask and bottled according to demand.
Wine Advocate 2020
"Known for its unrivaled stocks of old wines, which are generally bottled only on sale, d'Oliveira's house style is powerful and muscular, and the wines are invariably characterful if sometimes a little unpolished. The recent releases reviewed here give some idea of the broad range this house is uniquely capable of offering."
Wine Advocate 2012
"It was in 1850 that João Pereira d’Oliveira founded his company. He initially sold wines to other shippers, and it was not until the 1970s that they began to sell Madeira wines under their own label (though they continued to sell and buy lots, to and from other shippers.) It is a small company, but there are plentiful stocks of reserve wines. Their policy is to bottle on demand, which means their vintage wines can invariably benefit from extended cask aging."
Chicago Tribune: Madeira - A historic sip