A TASTE MADE OF MANY FLAVORS.
Everyone talks about varietals, but does everyone knows what a varietal is?
Varietal is what we call the grape variety destined for winemaking and not for immediate consumption. Like climate and soil, the varietal type is essential for the quality of a wine. It is what gives personality to the wine. It is from its characteristics that we can define not only the type of wine but also the style.
And as in other regions, wines from the Setúbal Peninsula are also made from a selection of national and international grape varietals that, individually or combined with others, give birth to some of the best and tastiest portuguese wines.
It is one of the oldest Portuguese varietals, with a long tradition, and the third most planted white varietal in the Setúbal Peninsula.
Of great nobility, it confers acidity, structure and an excellent ageing ability to the wines, the so-called ageing potential. It is widely used in batch wine (made with more than one varietal), to which it adds freshness, minerality and longevity, gaining elegance and complexity throughout its development. It is also widely used in sparkling wine production.
- It is characterised by its naturally high acidity.
- In its aroma, mineral notes stand out as well as green apple, lime, and lemon.
Although there are different varieties of muscatel in the world, the Moscatel de Setúbal varietal is one that presents a large concentration and wealth of aromatic compounds, thereby providing memorable wines. Historical references indicate that it originated in Alexandria, and it is therefore often recognised internationally as the Muscat of Alexandria varietal.
- Typical aromas: citrus flower and peel, honey, linden, rose, lychees, pear, dates and raisin.
One of the most widespread white varietals in the country and, following the Moscatel de Setúbal, it is the most planted white varietal in the Setúbal Peninsula. Its versatility, early ripening and wealth of aromatic compounds are the basis for its popularity.
It is used in both foundation (only one varietal) and batch wines (more than one varietal), with good results, as well in the preparation of sparkling and fortified wines, as well as in late harvest.
- In its aromatic profile, tropical fruits, rose, linden, orange blossom, lime, lemon, and other lemony herbs are highlighted.
Other white varietals:
Antão Vaz, Verdelho, Chardonnay, Viosinho, Viognier, Síria, Malvasia Fina, Sauvignon, Alvarinho, Sercial, Rabo de Ovelha, Pinot Blanc, Moscatel Galego Branco, Tamarez, Semillon, Loureiro, Boal Branco and Encruzado.
Produced more sparingly, and therefore not as well known, but no less appreciated than the Moscatel de Setúbal, the estate of the Moscatel Roxo [Purple Muscat] is the Setúbal Peninsula. This grape varietal nearly became extinct during the last century owing to the extreme difficulty in ensuring a good production volume. This lead to the planting of other varietals during this period.
- Its bunches are small and compact, with round berries that have a pink hue and are extremely sweet.
- Similarly to the Moscatel de Setúbal, this varietal has a rich aromatic profile, and is an unequivocal element in the flavour and aroma characteristics of the wines created from it.
- Compared with wines from the Moscatel de Setúbal varietal, this fortified wine has a drier and more complex aroma, but one which is no less rich, as the taste exceeds the expectations created by the aroma, displaying a refined bouquet where spices, sour cherry and fig jams are highlighted.
This grape varietal is perhaps the most praised in Portugal, as it is now found in practically every region of the country. It is a noble varietal and very much beloved; the fourth most planted in the Setúbal Peninsula.
Touriga Nacional provides an intense colour and wines created from it are elegant, balanced, deep-purple, full-bodied, powerful and have exceptional aromatic qualities.
- The thick skin, rich in colouring matter, provides intense colours. The abundance of aromas that originate from this grape varietal is strongly characteristic, simultaneously presenting floral and fruity notes, always so intense and penetrating.
- With its soft and warm aroma, mature wild fruit notes predominate, such as blackberry and blueberry, with floral nuances that invoke violets, French lavender, and sometimes, rock-rose notes.
- It creates wines with a good alcohol content, harmonious and with an excellent ageing ability, gaining aromatic complexity as it ages in the barrel.
It is one of the Iberian Peninsula’s noblest red grape varietals, appreciated on both sides of the border. Known as Tempranillo in Spain, it is also known in Portugal as Tinta Roriz.
On the Setúbal Peninsula, it occupies approximately 300 hectares and its ripening occurs as a general rule, one week before the grape varietal Castelão.
- It is an early-maturing grape varietal, vigorous and productive, and easily adaptable to different climates and soils, although it prefers hot and dry climates and sandy or calcareous-clay soils.
- If its robustness is controlled, it produces full-bodied, but elegant and very aromatic wines.
- The varietal’s aromas suggest plum, prune, wild fruits, spices and sometimes liquorice, becoming more complex as it develops.
- Though it is often used in batch wines, it is also used with great success in mono-varietal wines (only one grape varietal), and it is already a brand image for some wineries in the region.
Although originally from the Côtes du Rhône region, it is widely grown around the world. On the Setúbal Peninsula, it occupies approximately 400 hectares.
Here it found a privileged soil and climate, where it has developed extraordinarily well, providing wines of an exceptional quality, widely heralded with medals both at the national and international level.
- It is a varietal with a strong, robust personality which provides body and good structure to the wines. On the Setúbal Peninsula, Syrah is more evident in the tasting notes of blueberry, blackberry, violet and black olives, aside from spice notes which are less expressive.
- Syrah is generally fruitier than spicier on the Setúbal Peninsula.
It is the most cultivated red varietal in the south of Portugal, accounting for about sixty-percent of production on the Setúbal Peninsula.
This varietal has also been known as Periquita since 1830, when José Maria da Fonseca planted it on his estate in Azeitão — Cova da Periquita — and whose wines garnered so much fame that the name has spread throughout the entire region.
It has a superb ability to adapt to different climactic conditions, which makes it remarkably versatile. But it is on the Setúbal Peninsula, especially in the region’s sandy terrains and on the old vines, where it is expressed in all its fullness, giving the best of itself with wines that are structured, fleshy and intense.
- These wines present a quite structured and fruity taste, hinting at aromas such as cherry, gooseberry, acorn, chestnut, plum confit, blackberries and raspberry, which harmonise well when maturing in oak casks.
- As a general rule, they have an excellent ageing ability.
Other red varietals:
Trincadeira, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Alicante-Bouschet, Touriga-Franca, Merlot, Alfrocheiro, Tinta-Barroca, Tinta-Miúda, Tannat, Tinto-Cão, Petit-Verdot, Pinot Noir, Bastardo, Tinta-Caiada, Baga and Moreto.
Not every wine improves with time. There are wines that are created by winemakers in order to be consumed in a short time and these must be consumed quickly. Most counter-labels indicate the producer’s suggestion about opening and storing the bottle.
In red wine, the reddish color is due to the extraction of pigments present in the bark of the grape. The white wine, however, is fermented without the bark and therefore is white. A good example is the sparkling wines made mostly with the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varietals.
While the winemaker is the professional who works directly in the wine industry, coordinating and supervising the production, the sommelier is a specialist that assists the customers of a restaurant in the choice and harmonization of the best wines.
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