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A Madeira Evening

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Did you know that Madeira wine was used to toast the Louisiana Purchase? Have you been interested in trying it but not willing to commit to a bottle? Join the Southern Food & Beverage Museum for a special exploration of Madeira, the Portuguese fortified wine. Ricardo Freitas, managing director of one of Madeira’s most important houses, Vinhos Barbeito, and Mannie Berk, founder and president of The Rare Wine Co., will lead the tasting of six Madeiras from The Rare Wine Co. portfolio, including rare Vintage Madeiras. Ricardo and Mannie will discuss the history of the wine, how it is produced, and it's historical connections to Southern America.

Tickets include a tasting of each Madeira. $10 in advance, $15 at the door.


About the Presenters

In 2003, at the age of 39, Ricardo Freitas was named chairman of the board and managing director of one of Madeira’s most important houses, Vinhos Barbeito, which was founded by Ricardo’s grandfather in 1946. Educated in History at the Classic University of Lisbon, and having briefly worked as a history teacher, Ricardo joined his mother full-time in the family wine business in the early 1990s. Initially, he ran the family’s wine shop in Funchal and organized his grandfather’s museum, which represented the world’s largest collection of books related to Christopher Columbus. With time, he assumed responsibility for handling the firm’s grape harvests, while learning to make wine. By 1999, he was fully responsible for Barbeito’s winemaking.

In less than two decades, Ricardo has proven to be the most gifted winemaker of his generation not only in Madeira, but possibly in all of Portugal. He has won every important award for Portuguese winemaking, including best wine of the year, best fortified wine maker of the year and best wine producer of the year. He also won the best fortified wine of the year trophies in two prestigious international competitions. Most recently, in 2017, one of Ricardo’s Madeiras was named Portugal’s finest fortified wine in competition not only with other Madeiras, but also with the finest Vintage Ports. In addition to making all of Barbeito’s Madeiras since the 1992 vintage, Ricardo has, since their beginning in 2002, made every wine in The Rare Wine Co.’s Historic Series. These Madeiras, named for early American cities, have been widely credited with launching a new era of popularity for Madeira in the United States.

Mannie Berk is founder and president of The Rare Wine Co., one of America’s most respected wine merchants based in Brisbane, California. In 2002, he was named Food & Wine’s Best Wine Importer.  And he is a three-time James Beard Award semi-finalist and two-time Wine Advocate Wine Personality of the Year. Mannie is the U.S. importer for a number of Europe's greatest small wine producers, while specializing in past vintages of all the world’s greatest wines. He has been an energetic advocate for preserving traditional winemaking practices in regions throughout Europe and the Americas.

Over the past 27 years, he has made The Rare Wine Co. America’s finest source for Madeira, having conceived the Historic Series, a collection of popularly priced Madeiras named for early American people and cities. Today, the Historic Series Madeiras are the most recognizable Madeiras in top American restaurants. They are commonly cited as having led Madeira’s return to prominence in the United States, a nation where Madeira towered over other wines in prestige during the 18th and 19th centuries. Personally, Mannie is considered a leading authority on Madeira and its rich history, and he has lectured and written extensively on the subject. His works on Madeira include A Century Past: A Celebration of the Madeira Party in America (1999) and Antebellum Nectar: Champagne & Madeira in Pre-Civil War Charleston & The United States (2000). He is also editor and co-author of the second edition of Noel Cossart’s Madeira, The Island Vineyard (2011).