Cossart Gordon & Co
Founded in 1745, Cossart Gordon & Co. represents the oldest company in the Madeira trade. It was originally founded by Scotsmen, Grancis Newton and William Gordon, who were later joined in 1808 by William Cossart. The company established a reputation as purveyors of Madeira's best, mainly due to their trading relationship with American colonies. Madeira is known for its varietal wines, which have come to define the wine's style over time. Shortly after the discovery of the island, the first settlers planted grapes that were common in mainland Portugal, with the exception of "Malvasia" or Malmsey which originated in the Mediterranean.
Cossart Gordon & Co. was founded in 1745 and is the oldest company in the Madeira wine trade. Francis Newton, a young Scotsman, sailed from Gravesend in Britain and arrived in Madeira on September 12, 1745, where he founded the company. He was joined by his younger brother Thomas from 1758 to 1763 and then by another Scotsman, Thomas Gordon of Balmaghie, also in 1758. Thomas Murdoch joined the firm in 1791 which formed Newton, Gordon, Murdoch & Co. was named. By 1850 the company was said to be supplying "half the island's growth" and Newton's contacts in America through his brother Andrew (who left Scotland for Virginia) proved very successful and the company acquired an unrivaled reputation as suppliers of refined Madeiras . The colonies in North America were the largest and most demanding market at the time, so much so that the best production was commonly known as "America Madeira". Madeira played such an important role in American life that it was used to toast the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
The history of British merchants on the remote island of Madeira is fascinating and unique. They lived and worked in the wine trade in Madeira and had only sporadic contact with the outside world. They contributed very substantially to various areas of activity which increased the prosperity of the island and thus alleviated much poverty. The Cossart family has been one of the most influential on the island for nearly two centuries. The most authoritative book on Madeira, Madeira The Island Vineyard was written by Noël Cossart, a former senior partner of the firm who was born on the island in 1907. To this day, Cossart Gordon Madeiras are regarded as the very best available.