Since ancient times, the Sétubal Peninsula has been the spiritual home of the fortified wine of Moscatel. Deliciously sweet, it is ideal as an aperitif or paired with a dessert
THE MUSCAT IS one of the oldest grape varieties in the world, and while it is used to make the delicious nectars of Moscato in Italy and Moscatel in Spain, it is said that the preferred tipple of Louis XIV of France was in fact the famous Portuguese Moscatel de Setúbal, which the Sun King requested for all his celebrations in Versailles. Originating from Greece or Egypt, it is believed that the grapes of the Muscat family – which includes around 200 varieties – were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians and the Greeks. With a pronounced sweet floral aroma, its ability to ripen to high sugar levels makes the Muscat grape ideal for producing sweet, fortified wines.
The Moscatel Galego Branco (from the Muscat blanc à Petit Grains variety) is grown in the demarcated region of the Douro to make its Moscatel do Douro DOP. Douro’s Moscatel wines tend to be complex, with good acidity, citrus aromas, and flavours of apricots and butterscotch, which get nuttier the longer the wine is aged in wooden barrels. However, it is the Moscatel produced in the Setúbal Peninsula, which lies across the Tagus river south of Lisbon, that has won over connoisseurs the world over.
Made from the Muscat of Alexandria variety, Moscatel de Setúbal is produced in the historic vineyards of Setúbal, a demarcated area for more than 100 years.
Ranging in colour from gold to mahogany, this rich concentration of sweetness has typical aromas of citrus flowers, honey, marmalade, lychee and raisins.
Another variety produced in Setúbal is Moscatel Roxo. this wine also has a rich aromatic profile, but which is drier and more complex. On the mouth, it has notes of spices, cherries and fig compote.