The Setúbal Peninsula lies across the estuary of the River Tagus directly south of Lisbon, and linked to Lisbon by two bridges. There are two DOCs, Setúbal and Palmela. Much of the area is flat and sandy, with the exception of the Serra da Arrábida, a short chain of mountains running along the south coast of the peninsula, where the soils are limestone or clay-limestone.
The climate is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild but rainy winters. Vineyards in the Serra da Arrábida are cooler, due to the higher altitude and the proximity to the sea. It is on these slopes that the grapes are grown for the famous sweet, fortified Moscatel de Setúbal wines, made primarily from Muscat of Alexandria.
It can be labelled Moscatel de Setúbal when Muscat makes up more than 85 per cent of the blend. It’s a very sweet, fragrant wine, with candied orange flavours, floral and raisiny when young, developing nutty, toffeed aromas with maturity. Moscatel Roxo (a pink grape) makes wines that are even more scented.
DOC Palmela is mainly red, and based on the late-ripening Castelão grape, which is more at home in the hot, sandy soils of Palmela than anywhere else in Portugal, ripening well to make wines of complexity and depth, elegance an balance, with good cherry fruit.