From €7.99, £13, $12
This is an LOL wine (take your pick between laugh-out-loud and lots of love) – just because the apricot and orange aromas and flavours are so wonderfully intense and extreme they provoke simple, spontaneous joy. It’s the sort of wine that will grab your attention and brighten your day thanks to its sweetly indulgent, pure and persistent flavours and lightly viscous texture, balanced by just enough fresh acidity.
If, like me, you love the sort of ripe apricots that are hard to find unless you are standing under the tree at harvest time, this is sweet perfection. Well chilled (8-14 ºC), it could be sipped on its own or paired with fruit desserts. And it is unbelievably good value.
It’s a sweet, bright, orange-gold, fortified Moscatel made from the variety of Muscat found in Portugal’s Setúbal Peninsula, south east of Lisbon on the other side of the Tejo estuary. Known locally and logically as Moscatel de Setúbal, elsewhere – and it is widely planted around the world, especially in Spain but also in California, South America and Australia – it is known as Muscat of Alexandria.
SIVIPA, which stands for Sociedade Vinícola de Palmela, was established in 1964 by a group of winegrowers who got together with the aim of bottling and marketing their wines. In the 1990s they were joined by the Cardoso family, who owned 400 hectares of vines. Today SIVIPA is run by Filipe Cardoso. It does not own its own vineyards but buys grapes and wine from Quinto do Piloto, which is owned by the Cardoso family (one of their Moscatel vineyards is pictured here).
The considerable sweetness (140 g/l) in this unoaked wine is achieved by adding grape spirit early in the fermentation process, resulting in a wine of 17% alcohol and pure, juicy, heart-lifting deliciousness.
I would say there is less vintage variation in this wine than in most unfortified wines and although the vintage that I tasted and which caught my attention in London was the 2015, I have subsequently tasted the 2014 and it is also excellent and very good value, if perhaps not quite as exceptional as the 2015. When I asked Filipe Cardoso about the differences between vintages for this wine, he replied, ‘Normally it is always a fresh wine with a lot of citrus character, very well balanced between sweetness and acidity. For me, the 2015 is a little bit better then the 2014.’ But at this price you might feel you could try both to make up your own mind.
Although wine-searcher is not currently showing any stockists for the 2015 vintage, I am assured by Filipe Cardoso that it is on the market and currently available in the UK, Netherlands and Portugal. It is imported into the UK by impeccable Portuguese specialist Raymond Reynolds. Current stockists are Butler’s Wine Cellar (Brighton), Winearray (Boroughbridge), Chester Beer and Wine (Chester), Pippa Sedgwick Wines (Cumbria), Reserve Wines (Didsbury, Manchester). It is imported into the Netherlands by Wijnimporter.
SIVIPA wines are imported into the US by Tolland Discount Liquors, 227 Merrow Road, Tolland, CT 06084 (+1 860 872 7641). They are currently selling the 2014 and should have the 2015 by September this year.
The wines are also widely distributed by the following importers in Europe, most of whom will have the 2014 at the moment but should be moving on to the 2015 soon: Winesoul in Switzerland, Iberia AP in Poland, Viktor Horka/vino-port.sk in Slovakia, Curry Wines in Germany, Caves Primavera in Belgium, and Marktree in Austria. In Asia: Shanghai Superior Wines International Trading Ltd in China, The Voyager in Taiwan and Vinomac in Macau. In Angola, by KPMA, and in Brasil by Casa Rio Verde, Templo de Baco and Emporio Lusitano.