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Tasting notes from The Peninsula de Sétubal

by Tom Cannavan, 11/10

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Sétubal and Palmela.

JOSE MARIA de FONSECA

Red

Domini Plus 2008, Douro
A wine from the Douro, not Sétubal, made from Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz from 35-year-old vineyards in the Douro Superieur. Started as a joint venture with Christian Van Zellar. Nice fragrant wine, the 60% Touriga Franca giving touches of elegant, even floral notes. The palate has a lovely fresh appeal, with big tannins suggesting it need considerable time, but the black fruit and sinewy, tight edge of tannins and acidity giving lovely structure. Very refined really, with nothing chunky. 91/100.

Periquita Superyor 2008, Palmela
92% of this wine is 35-year-old Castelão, with 6% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Tinta Francisca aged in French oak. Big meaty nose, with lots of deep, sinewy, plummy fruit. A big wine this, the palate having very good freshness with racy acidity and very quite grippy, chunky tannins. Very juicy, the tart cherry skin quality of the juice adding lots of grip and lip-smacking appeal. 89/100

Hexagon 2007, Palmela
Domingo says that ever since he finished his studies at UC Davis he had in his mind the idea of a great wine, the style of which he had as a plan that might take 20 years, to identify and plant exactly the right grapes in the right spot, and waiti for them to reach suitable maturity. Tasting a barrel of Tinta Cão, he felt he had the basis for making this wine which became Hexagon. In fact the blend is Touriga Nacional, Tinta Franca, Tinto Cão, Trincadeira, Shiraz and Tannat. Cedary and elegant on the nose, it has meaty black fruit, but is quite clear and fruity, with lots of spice and that subtle oak and earthiness coming through. The palate has plenty of fruit: really bold and chewy, with big tannins adding a pleasant roughening texture to quite smooth fruit. That bloody, gamey ripeness is there, with nice acidity into the finish too. 92/100

José de Sousa Mayor 2007, Alentejo
Made in the Alentejo in clay pots and lagars for fermentation a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonez and Grande Noir aged in French oak. This has a lovely bright fruity lift, with a creaminess of berry fruits and some cassis intensity coming through. The oak is very much in the background, but this does hint at a chocolaty depth. Very silky, very ripe on the palate with creamy tannins and plenty of acidity from the Grande Noir to make the finish very fresh. 92/100.

José de Sousa, J 2007, Alentejo
Only 12.8% alcohol, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Grande Noir combine in a really spicy, more exotic wine with lots of ripe plum fruit and a hint of coffee and chocolate. The palate has delicious fruit again, with a smooth mid-palate and again that juiciness that pushes this through into a long, richly fruited but tight and fresh finish with bold tannins that are also quite muscular, sinewy, but refined too. 91/100

sweet

Alambre 20 year old Moscatel de Sétubal
Nutty nose, with a flood of orange fruit, toffee and old polished wood. The palate is flooded with beautifully mellow, sweet fruit, but that resonating core of lemony acidity pushes through, giving this lots of precision in the finish. 90/100

Domingos Soares Franco Coleccão Privada Moscatel de Sétubal Roxo 2001
Has a lovely smokiness, some stewed tea and gently rosehip notes, as well as that walnutty background and caramel. On the palate it has that lovely delicacy, with the a red fruit character and lovely bite and delicacy. 92/100

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