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“Wine doesn’t get greater than this. 100 rating.”Niklas Jorgensen, Livets Goda, Sweden
“What more could you want? Boooooooooom! 20/20 rating.””Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective, UK
“A spectacular, superlative, unforgettable wine. 20/20 rating.”Revista do Vinhos, Portugal
Barbeito’s Ricardo Freitas likes nothing better than to use his extraordinary winemaking gifts to pay tribute to the important people in his life.
Most of the honorees have been family members, including his mother, grandfather and grandmother. But with his latest release, he honors a man who, from 12,000 kilometers away, changed his life.
Ricardo first met Yasuhiro Kinoshita in 1990. At that point Kinoshita had already been Barbeito's Japanese importer for nearly a quarter century, working with Ricardo's grandfather until the latter's death in 1985.
But, with his mother's retirement nearing, Ricardo was about to take charge of a company that needed a new vision. One of Ricardo's first acts would be to end the shipments of bulk Madeira that gave the company half of its cash flow. Kinoshita agreed to become his partner; without that, Ricardo might not have been able to take such a risk.
Kinoshita not only provided financial stability, he gave Ricardo carte blanche to raise the company’s quality standards and, more importantly, to innovate. If it were not for Kinoshita—who passed away in 2003—Barbeito would not be the inspirational market leader it is today.
O Japonês means, simply, The Japanese. And it's a more than worthy successor to Ricardo’s acclaimed Mãe Manuela, Vó Vera and Avô Mário, which he dedicated to his mother, grandmother and grandfather, respectively.
A 50-year-old Malvasia, O Japonês is deserving of being included with these three not only because of its extraordinary quality, but because of the emotion with which he approached the project. His love for Kinoshita permeates every drop.
But I write the words “a more than worthy successor,” because the wine is arguably at another level. A good indication of this is the succession of perfect ratings it’s received in Sweden, the UK and Portugal. But you can also see the wine’s greatness in its components which date back to 1895.
Ricardo's goal was “to have a similar character” to the 30-year-old Vó Vera Malvasia, “but with everything deeper.” The backbone of the wine was 150 liters of Malvasia that Ricardo’s mother had bought in barrel in the late 1980s. To that he added very old wines from two of his favorite growers, Favila Vieira and Araújo. These growers' wines were in demijohn, which Ricardo loves for the elegance it brings.
In all, the blend includes three different wines over 100 years old, which provide the depth of character to balance the younger 20- to 30-year-old Malvasia in the blend. The result is a masterpiece of which only 655 numbered 750 ml bottles were produced.
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