Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Moscatel de Setubal with Sarah Ahmed

You think of Portuguese fortified wines and immediately port comes to mind. If you are a lover or fortified then you will probably know madeira wine with its magic heating process. No one I ever met, even among sommeliers, including myself!, ever mentioned Moscatel de Setúbal. 

A masterclass by Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective, organized by The Big Fortified Tasting plugged this unjustified hole in my knowledge base and I hope it will do the same for my readers. This is some of the main takeaways from her talk.

More info on the Setúbal Peninsula wines website.

Image courtesy of Setúbal peninsula Wines

Image courtesy of Setúbal peninsula Wines

The area is of course by the sea and enjoys a maritime climate. Vines are often planted facing north up to several hundred meters of altitude to moderate exposure to heat and preserve freshness. There is also a planting area at 50-80 meters and it is mostly flat, and this produces richer wines. Soil is mostly clay and limestone.

Total area planted for Moscatel de Setúbal is 634 hectares and 62 additional hectares for roxo.

Denomination of Origin established as far back as 1908 for Moscatel de Setúbal (1989 for Pamela). Wines must be made with at least 85% Moscatel de Setúbal grapes or the red variant Roxo. Moscatel de Setúbal is known as Muscat of Alexandria, or Zibibbo in southern Italy and specifically in Pantelleria.

The grapes are destemmed before being crushed, then left to ferment with the skins. Fermentation is stopped with fortification and maceration continues for over three months. Skins are pressed for further extraction and aging is at least 18 months in steel (resulting in a "young" fresher wine, up to 5 years of aging) or oak barrels (resulting in a "classic" velvety and nutty wine, 5+ years of aging).

Vintage wines must hold at least 85% of the same year  in the bottle and Reserva is given by a tasting panel without any additional aging, while Superior requires 5 more years.

Sarah Ahmed

Tasting notes from the masterclass:

1. Adega de Palmela 2021
Moscatel 100%
Floral aromas, fresh of orange blossoms, nutty and slightly astringent.
RRP £12. Score 84.

2.Adega de Pegoes NV
Moscatel 100%
Nutty, orange peel, spices, and good structure. Slight bitterness but it does not disturb a complex wine.
RRP £11. Score 88

3. Quinta do Piloto 2021 Anforas
Moscatel 100%
Fresh and fruity, hard sensations prevail. 
RRP £18. Score 86

4. Trois Flor de Trois moscatel Roxo 2017
Moscatel Roxo 100%
Strong nutty flavor, round and complex.
RRP £20. Score 89

5. Domingo Soares Franco Private Collection Armagnac 2008
Moscatel 100%, Fortified with Armagnac
Fresh and smoky, long.
RRP £15. Score 88

6. Doming Soares Franco Private Collection Cognac 1998
Moscatel 100%, fortified with Cognac
Strong nutty notes, complex and perfectly balanced.
RRP £15. Score 92

7. Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setúbal Superior 20 Anos 2000
Moscatel 100%
Very fresh. Intense nose then complex and long palate. Smoky. Produced with heating of the wine, trying to reproduce the effect of shipping in old days like for Madeira.
RRP £87. Score 93.

All these wines were paired, unsurprisingly well!, with Portuguese pastel de nata and dark chocolate. The amazing freshness of most of the samples contrasted perfectly with the sweet and mellow texture of the pastel and the chocolate.

I look forward to pair some of the smoother wines above with a good cigar!

pairing Moscatel de Setubal with pastel de nata and chocolate

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments here! Thank you!