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The sun in a bottle 02 May '19

Our domain in the world, regarding generous wines, is really impressive. This wines are also called treated wines, fortified, beneficiaries or fine wines. We are, without any doubt, leaders in quality and quantity concerning this sweet wines in which is added wine brandy.

In one of these chronicles, I have spoken about them. But do you know how generous wines are made?

This week I went to the land where Moscatel de Setúbal reigns. It is a wine made from the Moscatel Graúdo variety, but, at a certain time of the fermentation, the winemaker decides to fortify it. Yes, to fortify, to give more strength, that is, adding wine brandy to raise the alcoholic graduation abruptly.

Let’s see, the fermentation is a natural process of transformation of the sugar that exists in the grapes in alcohol. It is the yeast, or ferment, that does this process, by freeing carbon dioxide. When the fermentation is halfway, we add wine brandy - in most of the cases with 77% of alcohol - it happens that the yeasts die and leave the sugars that did not ferment behind. This results in a wine of higher alcoholic degree and at the same time sweet.

It is made all around the country. As result, we have wines as “abafado” from Almeirim, port wine or even vinho da Madeira. But in Setúbal it results as "the sun in bottle." This expression was first said by Léon Douarche’s that in the first half of the XX century was manager of IOV (International Organization of the Vineyard and of the Wine). At this time, Douarche was referring to the gold tone of these wines.

The generous wines from this region are different because, besides the fact that the origin is from one of the most aromatic varieties in the world, these wines are produced with prolonged maceration after the fortification. These are wines with unique character and that can age for hundreds of years.

If you are feeling curious, try to understand what are the wines of the "Roda" or the "Torna Viagem." And if you taste these wines, you will feel what these are one of the best relics than we are capable of producing.

Hélder Cunha
The wine’s my life