José Maria Da Fonseca Peninsula de Setúbal
This long-established family producer has 850 ha of vines at its disposal between the two regions of Peninsula de Setúbal and Alentejo. These include the large Algeruz vineyard purchased in 1989 and subsequently used to develop better clones of local Portuguese varieties but also trialling Syrah, Tannat, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are made by seventh-generation Domingos Soares Franco. Some of the big-volume brands can show attractive fruit if lacking structure and concentration. Whites including Quinta de Camarate and Primum are generally sound but like the reds want for more intensity and excitement. Red Primum (from Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca) could use a little more richness. The Periquita brand has been extended and, save for the Clássico, is no longer made exclusively from the Castelão grape. The Clássico, released with some age, shows more of the classic spicy, berry, savoury and chocolaty Castelão character. White, rosé and reserve Periquitas are well made and good value. Better still are the Garrafeira wines, RA, CO (both from Castelão), TE (Castelão/Cabernet) and more recently FSF (Shiraz, Trincadeira and Tannat in 2001), which show excellent complexity, depth and intensity; all are best with 6–10 years’ age. New in 2000 is a powerful, oaky Hexagon, produced from the grape varieties of FSF plus Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão and Touriga Franca. Like FSF it is foot-trodden in lagares and aged in new French and American oak. Colecção Privada Domingos Soares Franco are experimental wines, notably a Moscatel Roxo rosé, though arguably this rare grape is best put to its traditional, fortified use. From the Douro come the Domini wines, a joint venture with Cristiano van Zeller (QUINTA DO VALE DOÑA MARIA). Domini Plus shows classic Douro character and intensity in a modern style. The other great strength is Setúbal (fortified sweet Moscatel and other varieties), ranging from a youngish vintage-dated Alambre that is grapey and fresh with citrus peel, ripest peach and apricot character, to a deep-coloured, honeyed Moscatel Roxo with an orange peel aroma, through to a rich, gently oxidised Superior (recent vintages are 1962, 64, 65, 66 and 71) with a sweet intensity of dates and nuts. Most extraordinary, however, is a limited-release bottling called Trilogia (a blend of 1900, 34 and 65). Very intense yet not excessively sweet, it has marvellous finesse to its honeyed, citrus peel and nutty aromas and flavours.
To find out more about José Maria Da Fonseca and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Wine Guide Portugal..
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