Introducing JM Fonseca 1911 Moscatel de Setúbal

by Oct 15, 2019Wine reviews0 comments


Alti Wine Exchange introduces an exclusive Initial Bottle Offering of 50 rare bottles of 1911 Moscatel de Setúbal by famous Portuguese producer, José Maria de Fonseca.

Learn about JM Fonseca 1911 Moscatel de Setúbal Superior in Video

Watch the story of this rare bottling and listen to Julien commenting on what the wine taste like as well as its ageing potential, or continue reading its exceptional story below.

JM Fonseca, the House, the Brand, the Winery, the Family

José Maria de Fonseca is one of the most famous and respected wine brands in Portugal.

Located in the charming little village of Azeitão in the the Dão region of Portugal, more precisely on the Setubal Peninsula, just South of Lisbon.

Fonseca has built its reputation on a long tradition of winemaking.

The company was founded by José Maria da Fonseca (born 1804) himself back in 1834.

Being a mathematician by training José Maria had a taste for innovation that the seven generations of the family owners that have followed him to this day have always pursued.


There’s a few things that the Fonseca family pioneered. In 1850, he launched a new brand of wine called Periquita, which is now one of the most recognized wine brands from Portugal. In 1966 followed the launch of the Palmela Superior brand, always with “with emphasis on the presentation of each wine and keen marketing sense that paved the way for future entrepreneurs.”

Fonseca also pioneered the making and marketing of a traditional style of pungent and sweet fortified wine made from Muscat grapes that is called Moscatel de Setúbal.

This style was so delicious and appreciated early on, that Fonseca’s Moscatel de Setúbal won a Gold Medal at the Exposition Universelle, the Universal Exhibition of 1855 in Paris; that same Exposition Napoleon had ordered the famous 1855 Classification of the wines from Bordeaux for.


Since, Moscatel de Setúbal has been one of those very classic wine styles that are appreciated by wine connoisseurs everywhere around the globe.

Today’s Fonseca in Key Figures:

  • 100% family company run by the 6th generation and 7th generation

  • Exports 70% of production

  • José Maria da Fonseca wines are sold in over 70 countries

  • 34 Brands, including table, fortified wines, five regions: Setúbal Peninsula, Alentejo, Douro, Dão and Vinhos Verdes

  • Periquita is the biggest brand, followed by Lancers, Alambre Moscatel de Setúbal and BSE

  • Area under vine: 650 ha

  • No. of workers (2019): 210 (José Maria da Fonseca Group)

1911 Moscatel de Setubal – How?

Moscatel de Setúbal stands proudly among the illustrious sweet wines of Portugal together with Madeira and Port.

Moscatel de Setúbal is a very special in the world of wine because it is made from very ripe and fragrant Muscat grapes that are grown in a sunny area of Portugal, concentrating deep and rich flavors of honey, apricots, figs and raisins.

In addition, its unique winemaking process allows the maceration of the grape skins in the wine within the fermentation tanks for at least another three months (often up to one year), further intensifying the Moscatel’s concentration.


The secret to Moscatel de Setúbal’s Longevity

This fortified sweet wine shines at about 17-18% alcohol. The alcohol preserves the aromas and flavors from the original grapes it was made, allowing the wine to age positively for many decades if not centuries.

Because Fonseca was the pioneer in crafting this now-classic style, the stored many old vintages of it, keeping them refining in oak barrels generation after generation.

Over the decades since the late 18th century, JM Fonseca has assembled in its winery the largest collection of old Moscatel de Setúbal, more than 80 old vintages aged in oak casks.


Sometimes, very occasionally, the winery would bottle some of these old well-kept treasures and sell them to their loyal customers, so some people can appreciate them as well.

That’s exactly what happened with this 1911 wine.

Rare Bottling of 1911 Wine

In 2014, for celebrating the 180th anniversary of the foundation of the winery, Fonseca bottled and released 180 bottles only of a unique 1911 Moscatel de Setúbal Superior that had been stored in oak casks at the winery for more than 100 years.

They packaged it in this luxurious wooden box and gave each box a number out of 180.


100 of these bottles have already been sold at auction during the 180th anniversary itself on December, 2nd, 2014.

50 of the remaining bottles are available through the Alti Exchange platform.

We have had the exclusive opportunity to experience and write about what this rare 1911 sweet Moscatel de Setúbal wine actually taste like today in 2019.

1911 Moscatel de Setubal – A Rare Tasting Experience

One doesn’t taste a 100+-year-old wine often.

Even for a fortified sweet wine with such pedigree as a JM Fonseca Moscatel de Setúbal Superior, the question of its taste remains one everyone would have on the back of his or her mind: Is this wine still good to taste? What does it taste like too?

Our Chief Wine Officer Julien had the rare opportunity to taste and analyze in detail what Fonseca’s 1911 Moscatel de Setúbal today. Here are his tasting notes:

“With a Deep raisin-like amber-brown color that sets the wine apart straight away just from looking at it, Fonseca’s 1911 Moscatel shines in its aromatic profile with bursting and vibrant notes of dried fruits, fig and apricot. It is certainly reminiscent of the floral and generous Muscat grapes, but age has added many layers of depth, profound caramel and toffee tones together with deepening earthy and herbal tones. Aromatic herbs like thyme and rosemary, together with earthy notes of clay and forest floor transport your imagination to the sunny and warm forest of Southern Portugal. A voyage just smelling the wine.

On the palate, the wine follows suit with an impressive explosion of raisin and dried fruit flavors, followed by an infinitely long pleasing parade of many layers of complexity. Dried fisg and sultanas are followed by flavors of torrefaction, dark cocoa and Grand Cru coffee and a myriad of sweet spices. Several minutes after tasting, you can still sense the presence of the wine on your palate and discover, experience unexpected flavors.

The smallest sip at this 100+-year old wine takes you on a journey of flavors and sensation like you’ve never experienced before. Rare are the foods or even the wines, if any, that deliver such a deep, almost spiritual tasting experience.”

Witness JM Fonseca Winery in Portugal

José Maria da Fonseca is one of Portugal’s largest & most prestigious wine companies, begun in 1834 and run with undiminished passion since that date by the same family

Watch views of the winery, the vineyards and Fonseca’s unique wine cellars

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