I visited D'Oliveiras in January some years back, four I think. Not the bussiest season, and for me this was perfect. I was out walking in Funchal, had just been to a rather dissapointing visit at the Madeira Wine Insitute, where history seemed more important than showing the quality of the wines. I was walking down a narrow street and there was a door in the wall that I just walked right past.
But was n't there some barrels inside? I walked back. D'Oliveiras it said. I had not even heard of the producer. I was a starting fan of this great wine, I had had some great Barbeitos, some Henriques & Henriques and some Blandy's. I walked in to this to me unknown house and saw this amazing line up of old bottles, going back to 1850. There was some couples of American tourist sitting around some tables tasting.
They talked loudly, dressed as tourists, more or less like me in fact. A kind lady asked me if I wanted to have a taste, and if I preffered dryer or sweeter style. I answered that normally Verdelho was my favorite while taking out pen and some paper (actually a tired roadmap) to write on. She nodded to me and had a long look. Did this young tourist actually know something?
I sat down and she found a medium sweet Madeira, and I notet. The Americans left. "-Are you a journalist?" she asked. "-No, just a wine fanatic." I answered. Then she asked if I wanted to taste some real Madeira and we were off. Then she took out some 70's Madeiras. After a tasting of about 15 wines going down to the 40's I had to leave. My palate was num from the intence flavours. I was told I had to come back. Theese notes are unfortunatelly missing.
The day after I was back, with my notebook. I was welcomed as familly. Some German and Dutch tourist's this day, all was quite astonished when they pulled out all the wines notet bellow to me. I was probably even more astonished. They comented on that I now finally had a proper book. The other tables wondered who this young man was, with this treatment. Nobody else had a table covered with bottles older than anybody in the room. Even the boss came over and sat for a talk about wine in general, and the styles of the Madeira grapes.
25 years old, dressed in t-shirt, adidas shorts, white socks and sneakers, just showing interest, and treated like Michael Broadbent.