Portuguese table wines are the last undiscovered European wines for most American wine drinkers. While France, Spain, and Italy make exceptional wines and are the most famous wine-producing countries in Europe, Portuguese wines are often overlooked. This is unfortunate as Portuguese wines are generally high quality, and they offer a level of affordability that other European wines can’t match. Some of the best Portuguese wines come from an area just south of Lisbon, the Setúbal peninsula.
Traveling to Portugal usually means landing in Lisbon. From Lisbon, the Setúbal peninsula wine region is just a short drive south, next to another region, the Alentejo. The Setúbal peninsula features a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. Much of the land in the Setúbal is flat and sandy, and although a mountain range does run in the region, the grapes planted on the mountain are used for a sweet wine. It is these flat and sandy soils that grow the red grapes of the Setúbal area.
While grape varietals like Trinacdeira and Castelao may not be as well-known as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Gris, the wines of the Setúbal peninsula are worth exploring. With a variety of flavor profiles and producers in the area, these wines offer great value and quality for those who seek them out. Here are four wines from the Setúbal that you should know.
Jose Maria Da Fonseca Periquita 2009
This wine is made primarily from the Castelao grape (79 percent Castelao, 10.5 percent Trincadeira, 10.5 percent Aragonez), a variety indigenous to Portugal. This deep ruby-colored wine is a medium-bodied stunner with notes of wild berries and figs, making it a great match for red meat, pork, and cheese dishes.
Jose Maria Da Fonseca Domingos 2009
This wine is a fifty-fifty blend of Touriga Nacional (regarded as the finest grape grown in Portugal) and Syrah. Dark red, this wine has interesting notes of florality and minerals to complement the dark fruit notes of this wine. Think blackberries, cassis and dried plums, and at 13.5 percent alcohol by volume, this wine won’t overwhelm the palate. Pair this with roast duck for an excellent culinary experience.
Herdade Da Comporta 2007
A blend of 40 percent Aragonez, 40 percent Alicante Bouschet, 10 percent Touriga Franca, and 10 percent Trincardeira creates a wine with a balance between dark fruit and oak notes. This is an elegant wine with abounding notes of vanilla, blackberries, cassis, and blueberries on this well-structured wine. Match this wine with rack of lamb for a special pairing.
Chao Das Rolas 2010
A blend of Castelao, Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, and Syrah, this wine is reminiscent of blackberry jam with notes of blueberry, red raspberry, plum, and violet. A full-bodied wine, Chao Das Rolas would pair well with a grilled steak.
Disclosure: I received samples of these products from Wines of Portugal for review. No other compensation from Wines of Portugal was received.