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Setúbal Peninsula
Grapes Varietals
 
 
Whites:
 
Moscatel de Setúbal, Alexandria, or Graúdo

This variety is known to have originated in Egypt, having spread to the Mediterranean from Alexandria, possibly during the period of the Roman Empire (Galet 1985). It is a grape of average strength and has a difficult flowering and fertilization, prone to not fruiting after flowering. Resistant to dryness, it's sensitive to mildew and powdery mildew. There are various types of Moscatel in the world (ex. the French Muscat, the Italian Moscato), and all of them with a significant concentration of aromatic (terpene) and flavor components. However, it's the Moscatel de Setúbal that has the best concentration and richness of these components. The typical aromas of Moscatel are well-known: citrus flowers and zest, honey, lime, rose, lychee, pear, date and raisin, which create memorable wines.

 
Fernão Pires

Fernão Pires is one of the most widely used Portuguese white grape varietals in the country, its versatility, precocity and richness of aromatic compounds are what make it so popular. After the Moscatel de Setúbal, it is the most widely planted grape in the Setúbal Peninsula. It is used in single-varietal wines and blends, having good results in the production of sparkling, fortified, as well as late harvest wines. It's aromatic profile exhibits tropical fruit, lemon, lime, orange, tilia, rose and other lemony herbs.
Reds:
 
Castelão

Being the most cultivated grape varietal in the south of Portugal, Castelão possesses a great ability to adapt to various different climate conditions, hence providing it a notable versatility. The Castelão grape is known in the Setúbal Peninsula region as "Periquita", a name that originated from the vineyard property Cova da Periquita, located in Azeitão, where winemaker José Maria da Fonseca first planted the varietal back in 1830. With an area occupying around sixty-percent of the total vineyard land in the Setúbal Peninsula, the fame of the wines produced with the grapes from the Cova da Periquita vineyard became widespread throughout the region. Castelão is very well-adapted to the Setúbal Peninsula and it is here where it manifests itself in all its fullness, especially within the sandy soils and old vineyards of the region, producing wines that are more structured, fleshy and intense. The wines made with Castelão present strong, fruity aromas of cherry, currant, blackberry, raspberry and candied plum, as well as some nutty notes, which harmonize well with an aging stage in oak barrels. In general, Castelão wines exhibit excellent aging ability.
Syrah

Though Syrah is a well-known French grape varietal from the Côtes du Rhône region, it has successfully been diffused to other regions of France and worldwide. In the Setúbal Peninsula, it occupies approximately 300 hectares of vineyards. The wines from this grape have a rich aroma, a consequence of the different terroirs, climates and winemaker knowledge. In the Setúbal Peninsula region it has found a privileged terroir and climate, for even with the different knowledge of local winemakers, it has produced wines of exceptional quality that have won medals both nationally and internationally. If there was any doubt in this regard, it was dispelled at the 2008 Vinailes Internacionales competition in France, where a Syrah wine from the Setúbal Peninsula competed in a blind tasting of red wines from 36 countries and won the Trophée Vinailes for the best red wine.
 
 
Arinto

One of the oldest and most traditional Portuguese grape varietals, Arinto is characterized by its elevated natural acidity, conferring acidity, structure and excellent aging potential in wines. Because of this, it is often used in blended wines in which it imparts freshness, minerality and longevity; gaining elegance and complexity as it evolves. Arinto is also often used in the production of sparkling wines and is the third most planted grape varietal in the Setúbal Peninsula. In the nose, it exudes notes of mineral, green apple, lemon and lime.
Other white grape varietals grown in the area:

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.

Aragonez


One of the most noble grape varietals of the Iberian Peninsula, Aragonez is renowned on both sides of the border, recognized as Tempranillo in Spain, and in Portugal as both Aragonez and Tinta Roriz in the north. It is an early maturing variety, vigorous and productive, and easily adapting to different climates and soils but it prefers hot, dry climates with sandy or clay-limestone soils best. In the Setúbal Peninsula it occupies about two-hundred and seventy hectares and its maturation occurs, as a general rule, one week before the Castelão grape varietal. If its force is controlled, it produces full-bodied wines that are very elegant and aromatic. The aromas of this varietal exude plum, dried plum, red berries, spices and sometimes licorice, becoming more complex as it evolves. Although Aragonez is often used in blends to harmonize with other varieties like Castelão, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Touriga Franca and Alicante Bouschet, it's also produced as a single–varietal wine, which has been met with great success and has become a hallmark for some of the producers in the region.

Touriga Nacional

Touriga Nacional is a very known and well-appreciated grape varietal, perhaps the most celebrated one in Portugal, having been disseminated to practically every region in the country. Its thick skin, rich in natural tint, provides intense color to its wines. The abundance of primary aromas is a characteristic of this grape variety, presenting both floral and fruity and always intense and penetrating. Touriga Nacional is the fourth most planted grape in the Setúbal Peninsula. It produces full bodied wines with powerful and exceptional aromatic qualities, providing a soft, warm flavor dominated by notes of ripe berries, such as blackberry and blueberry, with floral nuances that resemble violet, rosemary and cistus flower at times. It produces harmonious wines with a strong alcohol level and excellent aging ability, gaining aromatic complexity when aged in barrel.

 
 

Moscatel Roxo

The home of the Moscatel Roxo grape varietal is the Setúbal Peninsula. Its clusters are small and compact with round, pinkish berries that have an extreme sweetness. This grape varietal, like the Moscatel de Setúbal, has a rich aromatic profile and contributes unequivocally to the aroma and flavor of the wine it produces. Compared to the wines of the Moscatel de Setúbal grape variety, this fortified wine has a more dry and complex aroma but no less rich. Upon tasting, it exceeds expectations created by the aroma palate, displaying a very fine highlight of spices, cherries and fig compote. The Moscatel Roxo typically has a smaller production than the Moscatel, hence it is lesser known but no less appreciated.

João Ignacio Ferreira Lapa, in 1866, described this grape variety and the wine it produces: "The Moscatel Roxo is made with the Moscatel of the same color (roxo means purple in Portuguese), it is a very thin and aromatic plant and like all delicate plants, it is highly sensitive and not very productive. The wine's purple color fades as it ages, resembling an old white Moscatel, but because of the balsamic flavor that it acquires in exchange, it compensates in the palate what it has lost in the appearance."

Other red grape varietals grown in the area:

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.