Not only is this a rich and luscious red quaffer, it is also an especially nice looking wine. Both the bottle and the case have beautiful multicolored waves going across them. So unlike so many mass marketed chain store wines, this one actually has the quality going on inside of the bottle also.
The Sand Creek red comes from the Peninsula de Setubal which is just south of Lisbon, Portugal. The wine is made by Casa Ermelinda Freitas in a region historically anchored by Jose Maria da Fonseca, Portugal's oldest table wine company. Established in 1834, Fonseca is still thriving today albeit in the fortified Muscat category where they have a near monopoly in that kind of wine.
Historically the Setubal peninsula has been dedicated to Muscat grapes. Fonseca started it all. Muscat of Alexandria is the most prominent type planted there (and elsewhere) but Muscat is one of those types prone to mutation so there is a veritable family of Muscat grapes to sort out. Most vineyards in the region are planted in white grapes with most of those being related to Alexandria in some way.
Our Sand Creek however, is a red blend and while its appellation on the label says "Setubal" it may more accurately have called "Palmela" which is a red wine carve-out from the Setubal DOC. Portugal's legal wine appellation system has been in flux since the early 2000's. Palmela's DOC status elevation from IPR probably happened around 2009.
Palmela features sunny plains with poor fertility but well draining sandy limestone soil. Red grape vines love such environs. They yield wines of fully ripe and balanced tannic cherry flavors.
Palmela, like Setubal, is mostly planted in white grapes but there are a handful of red players. The most prominent type is called Castelao or Periquita. DOC law for Palmela reds mandates at least 67% Castelao in the blend. Alfrochiero and Tinta Amarela are two other local varieties which, like Castelao feature dark coloration and rich body and flavors. Aragonez (Tempranillo) is also part of the blend as are the international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The most telling feature displayed by our Sand Creek red is its floral nose that just won't quit. That's a dead giveaway that Muscat is in the blend also.
Please join us next Thursday the 16th for a red wine tasting to include the Sand Creek Red.