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 be owned by the D’Oliviera family, who were once highly important growers in the parish of Sao Martinho.
Its stocks of old wines have grown over time, either through marriage with other wine-producing families, or by the purchase of other old firms. But the foundation for its unparalleled library of ancient vintages was laid by wines made by the family itself, from its legendary vineyards in Sao Martinho.
Over the years, it has been our privilege to take part in many comprehensive tastings of D’Oliveira vintages. There is a definite 'house style' to these wines. They have very powerful aromatics, great lushness and viscosity, incredible structure, and a tangy character that is essential to great Madeira.
It’s no wonder that others in the Madeira trade consider these to be supreme examples of classic Madeira. In fact, during the 1970s and 1980s, when the Madeira Wine Co. (Blandy’s, Cossart, etc.) was beginning to run low on old vintages to sell, it was to D’Oliveira that they turned.
Like Barbeito, D’Oliveira believes that Madeiras age best in cask. Consequently, its old vintages are kept in wood, and only enough is bottled to meet short-term needs.