The Setúbal peninsula, located south of the capital Lisbon, provides the third great dessert wine of Portugal, Moscatel de Setúbal. The region is named after a fishing village at the mouth of the Sado River. Moscatel de Setúbal is produced primarily from Muscat grapes, which find the best conditions here on the sandy, calcareous and clay soils in the cool Atlantic climate. Among the numerous varieties of Muscat, the varieties Muscat d'Alexandria, Moscatel de Douro and Moscatel Roxo are the most represented here. The Moscatel de Setúbal denomination is one of the oldest controlled origins in Portugal, having been established in 1907. Since Moscatel also traditionally uses up to 30 percent of other grape varieties, the designation Moscatel disappeared from labels when Portugal joined the EU in 1986, unless the Muscat grape exceeds at least 85 percent. A very unusual feature of the production process is that of the addition of ethyl alcohol during fermentation - the wine then has an alcohol content of about 12 percent by volume - the wine remains in contact with the grape skins for up to six months or more, during which time it takes on an intense, lusciously fruity muscat aroma. It is usually sold after four to five years of ageing and maturation in wooden barrels. The very best quality wines are sometimes sold only after decades of barrel and bottle ageing.
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