You can reach for the stars if you climb the Cabo Girao at 589 metres above sea level. Alternatively you can taste vinous stars if you call Sergio[ref]Sergio, the Barbeito-favoured taxi driver, can be called on the number +351 919912420[/ref] to take you up a little higher to the Vinhos Barbeito winery. There you can learn about the insanely complex process of turning underripe wines (from grapes most of the world ignores) into wonderfully complex and engaging fortified stars that you would have to be a fool to ignore. There is clearly method to the madness, though, as Barbeito produce our favourite Madeiras with the most personality-charged house style of any quality Madeira you are likely to encounter.
On the drive up the mountain above Camara de Lobos you get an idea how bonkers the geography of the inhabited parts of Madeira are. Wherever a house can be squeezed onto the vertiginous slopes there is one. Everywhere else there are innumerable tiny terraces: bananas at low levels and grapes higher up. It is this height of the vineyards, together with Madeira’s perpetually mild but windy climate that is responsible for the unripeness of the base wines.