‘Excellent,’ ‘Superior’ indeed: Stunning Setúbal from Casa Agrícola Horácio Simões
The results of Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) are published online today. I’m thrilled that one of the Gold/Platinum winners which me and my team picked went on to win a Best of Show for Best Sweet Fortified under £15, beating more famous rivals from Port, Madeira and Jerez.
Not for the first time, it was a Moscatel de Setúbal from Bacalhôa – big congrats to the Queen of Moscatel de Setúbal, Filipa Tomaz da Costa. In fact every Moscatel de Setúbal/Moscatel Roxo entry bagged a medal – you can check out the results here in a year which was distinguished by the performance of Portugal’s southern regions – Setúbal for its fortified Moscatels, Alentejo for its red wines.
I might add one of my favourite Moscatel de Setúbal producers – Casa Agrícola Horácio Simões – didn’t even enter any wines. However, I caught up with the latest releases at The Big Fortified Tasting the week before DWWA. Top cuvée Excellent is an out and out stand out from this third generation family business, founded in 1910. Here is my note.
Casa Agrícola Horácio Simões Roxo Excellent Superior (Moscatel Roxo)
With great brightness and clarity this Roxo – made from Setúbal’s lesser spotted Moscatel Roxo, the pink-tinted strain of the grape – has a beautiful amber/bronze hue. On the nose it displays caramel, praline, vanillin and toasted sweet spices – anise and cinnamon; a subtle but refreshing hint of (butter)mint too. These notes follow through on a delectably suave palate of fleshy caramelised oranges, dried fig and dates. Exceptionally long with insinuating acidity and very smooth, perfectly integrated spirit, it retains terrific balance from start to finish. The epithet is well deserved. Just 1400 litres of this elixir are produced. Excellent is first and foremost the product of super select bunches of low yielding vines sourced from a “pampered” 2.5ha vineyard on clay and limestone. Then the hand of the blender comes into play, for it is a non-vintage (I’m told 2001, 2003, 2007), best barrel blend, hence the intensity, concentration and balance. Every iota of flavour has been skilfully extracted with a five day pre-fermentation maceration followed by a post-fermentation maceration on skins for five months. The wine was then aged for 10 years in used French oak 225l barrels, which accounts for its exceptional or should I say excellent smoothness and clarity. 191g/l residual sugar, 19%. It is imported into the UK by Portal Wines & Spirits.