When age matters



For a second the idea was on my mind; just take the tasting glass of the Trilogia and leave the place. Bring it with me home and there pour it over in a more suitable glass; sit back, relax and enjoy the precious drops!

As a wine blogger I am fortunate in receiving invitations to exciting wine tastings – actually more than I can attend. Since I am not in a position where I can live on my wine blogging the phrase “Don’t quit your day job” narrows down the number of invitations I accept. But hey, I am not complaining!

I realize the importance of the tastings, because seriously; being passionate about wine is an expensive hobby and most of us are locked to a budget. The tastings has, over the years, given me an invaluable experience and for that I can only be thankful to wine importers, producers or generous friends.

Trilogia is an excellent example of a wine I most likely would have been bound to sacrifice, not because of its outstanding quality – believe me, this is sheer world class amongst the fortified wines – but because of its price tag. 50 cl costs around 100 Euro’s and knowing what you get it’s not putting me off, that’s for sure. But if I hadn’t gotten the chance to taste it would I have ordered then?

Back to the opening line! Having my appreciation in mind; a tasting is still a tasting. There’s nothing like enjoying a great glass where the atmosphere doesn’t dictate time limits. Or takes place in stressful or crowded premises. I learn a lot but my reviews I honestly value most are the one’s that I have written down at home – or at tastings where silence, food and suitable glasses has been present features.

Did I mention not spitting by the way?

That said; when you’re at a tasting and poured a glass of the José Maria da Fonseca Trilogia – a wine consisting of three vintages (1965, 1934 & 1900) – time stops.

My tasting friend needed to leave and when I stood there alone – there was only one thing to do; ask for an extra glass of the Trilogia – and the 1976 Apoteca that was also poured, find a silent corner and a divine crème brulée – and just enjoy the wines. Almost like being home!

1976 Apoteca, José Maria da Fonseca, Moscatel de Setúbal

This has a fine amber color. Elegant Moscatel with scents of orange peel, jasmine, black tea, herbs, figs and nutmeg. I love that slightly oxidized note the old casks gives the wine! Complex nose and a thrill to smell this beauty. On the palate it shows surprising freshness, orange peel, figs, chocolate, pipe tobacco and old casks. Complex, sweet but all in balance. Not a heavyweight Moscatel de Setúbal this will still have its followers – especially if you’re more into elegance. (93 points)

Trilogia, José Maria da Fonseca, Moscatel de Setúbal

A blend of 70% 1965, 15% 1934 and 15% 1900 bottled to celebrate the millenium. 13,926 half liters bottles. A dark amber color. A wine oozing of, of, of everything! Where should one start? It shows dark, slightly sullen notes in the beginning indicating it would have benefitted from being opened well in advance but still; the orange peel, walnuts, old casks, dates, moist tobacco, oolong tea and refreshing mint nose, all wrapped in fantasticly, are to die for.

Hugely concentrated on the palate and sweet, it still manages not to become vapid. Oranges, tobacco, figs, wet earth, herbs, jasmine and mint on the palate. Great length. A wine attempting a perfect score although, in my book, not reaching all the way. (96 points)

Where do you live? My Swedish readers can buy it thanks to The Wine Agency. In Germany, Mio Gusto retails and in Portugal Garrafeira Nacional retails. I have yet to find a place where to buy the Apoteca Colheita 1976.

P.S. Don’t miss out on the spectacular 30 Years Old Bastardinho from Fonseca. One of the greatest Fonseca’s out there!

P.S.2. The wines were tasted at the Swedish importer’s celebration of Jose Maria da Fonseca’s Periquita celebrating 150 years.

P.S.3. A Periquita vertical were also tasted; 2007 (83 p), 1988 (87 p), 1982 (Sorry), 1974 (82 p), 1965 (88 p) and 1961 (88 p). Impressive they keep but it seems that something happened in style during the 1970’s. The best in show were definitely the 1961 and 1965, 1974 I had tasted before and this one only confirmed it was way past its prime, the 1982 slightly cork tainted and the 1988 lovely Burgundy like nose. The 2007? Modern and mostly a simple wine with nothing in common with the oldies.

  • Finare Vinare

    >The Trilogia was a truly great experience. Only the fascinating nose and the tiniest little sips are needed to be fulfilled. How long do you think it will keep in an opened bottle, Niklas?

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Actually; i don't know but would love to find out :-)

    Just like old Madeira they've been given oxidization during all the years on cask so they're not as vulnerable as vintage port for example – when opened.

    However; Madeira has a more deliberate contact with heat and with an acidity as well that Moscatel de Setúbal doesn't have. I would give it a week or two stored cold after opening and with the cork put back every time. But that is because I don't know. On the other hand – 50 cl of this; why keep it for 2 weeks!!

    All the best,


  • Rui Barradas Pereira


    Just a remark regarding Bastardinho, The "Bastardinho de Azeitão" is wine made with grapes of the grape variety Bastardo and is not a Moscatel. The vineyards were it was produced were in the southern side of the river Tagus neer the town were I grew up (Barreiro) and these vineyards no longer exist. I think that the last casks have already been bootled and the bootles that are in the market are the last of a wine that currently is not repeatable. If someone starts now maybe in 30 years there will be something similar…


    Rui Barradas Pereira

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Rui; thank you for sharing this information!

    I realize when checking my writing that I shouldn't have written Moscatel about the Bastardinho. I was explained about the grape when I visited the winery four years ago, and then got the chance to taste the 30 YO Bastardino. Thanks for highlighting!

    I remember them telling me, I believe, that the vines of the Bastardino was uprooted around 1974 since it was too difficult to work with. And that the grape is a mutation of Bastardo. Is that something you know more about? Do you also have any knowledge whether the mainland Bastardo is the same as found (rarely though today) on Madeira?



  • Rui Barradas Pereira


    As far I know this Bastardo is the same as the one from Madeira. But I not an expert on this. This grape variety is also used in some other portuguese regions but not for fortified wines. The information from JMF is that the last grapes were harvested in 1983. Also I was told that JMF has planted some vines of this variety in a vineyard in a different area but with similar caracteristics as the original ones to see if it could bring it back. But is still too early to tell if this will be sucessfull.


    Rui Barradas Pereira

  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Thanks for sharing! It's great to hear there's hope for Bastardo!

  • Anonymous

    >During the last week I tasted the 93 and the 94 of Periquita.
    The 93 was a totally different kind of wine. Not bad at all, but different, still some fruit, very smooth, best on its own.
    The 94 was a very good Periquita: nice fruit,dark cherries, some herbs. Perfect to the "lambburger".


  • Niklas Jörgensen

    >Good to hear! Must confess I've been skeptical to more recent vintage's ageability. Question is how long the most recent vintage on the market will hold?



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