For the best value Portugese table wine, read on...
Bacalhôa Vinhos Moscatel de Setúbal 2004
Founded in 1922 in Setúbal, just south of Lisbon, Bacalhôa Vinhos has emerged as one of Portugal’s leading producers, acquiring prestigious estates in the Alentejo and Lisboa regions along the way.
Nonetheless, the Península de Setúbal, famous for its fortified Moscatels (Muscat of Alexandria), remains at the heart of operations and is home to Quinta da Bassaqueira, Bacalhôa Vinhos’ headquarters.
With José Berardo, Portugal’s biggest art collector at the helm, the light and airy building in Azeitão is a dazzling showcase for art and wine, which is open to the public. Here, framed by Berardo’s outstanding 15th century to the 20th century collection of Portuguese azulejos (glazed ceramic tiles), you’ll find barrels of Moscatel de Setúbal completing the maturation process.
Though the Moscatel de Setúbal region was officially demarcated in 1907, in the nineteenth century, fortified Moscatel was shipped across the equator and back to develop the style’s signature caramelised tang. These days, the process is a little less arcane!
Harvested at full ripeness, after a short fermentation, brandy is added to halt the fermentation process (and retain sweetness). Before lengthy ageing, the fortified wine is macerated on skins until the end of winter (around five to six months), which emphasises Moscatel’s floral aroma and grapey, sometimes gingery, freshness.
At Bacalhôa Vinhos, this Fortified Trophy winner was then pressed into small 180l oak barrels and aged for four years, during the summer, in the warmth of a corrugated steel roofed warehouse to caramelise sugars and concentrate the wine by evaporation. In this memorably heady, sigh-inducing environment, our irresistible trophy winner developed a deliciously nutty rancio edge to its lush palate redolent of Crèma Catalana and fresh caramelised oranges.
Written by Sarah Ahmed