Luis Pato Bairrada
Luis Pato has been Bairrada’ great moderniser, introducing green harvesting, complete de-stemming, temperature control and barrique-ageing to fashion the region’s and some of Portugal’s top wines. He remains an innovator, lately fashioning FLP and the Abafado range of sweet “molecular” (cryoextracted) wines and even a Touriga Nacional red (João Pato – not tasted), but it is his way with the local Baga grape that sets the pulse racing. The flavours of Baga are not to everyone’s taste but these are excellent, age worthy examples of what is possible. A combination of new and one year old Allier barriques are used for the top single-vineyard wines. The best of these, from 70-year-old vines in a 0.7 ha vineyard, is Vinha Barrosa, with terrific intensity and dimension and a remarkable earthy, truffly, old-vine richness. Vinha Pan and Vinha Barrio are almost as good, the Pan perhaps more tannic and intense than the more mineral Barrio. Quinta do Moinho from younger vines is arguably the least of these wines yet doesn’t lack for intensity, breadth or style. A very small amount of wine is produced from ungrafted vines and fermented in new oak and bottled as Baga Pé Franco. Though very structured it has extraordinary aromas and flavour including earth, truffles, smoke, coffee, black plum; it probably needs to be kept for a minimum of a decade before drinking. As might be expected the wine is bottled without fining or filtration. A regular Baga has more forward, spicy, black plum fruit and is lightly structured. It is worth trading up to Vinhas Velhas red for that bit more intensity and structure. Vinhas Velhas white, a blend of Bical. Cerceal and Sercialinho, is also very good. Flagship white Vinha Formal, made from 100-per-cent Bical that is fermented and aged in oak hails from a single vineyard. The oak is not allowed to dominate and the wine reveals subtle yet intense, ripe fruit with excellent breadth and structure to improve for several years.
To find out more about Luis Pato and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Wine Guide Portugal..
Or indeed you can check out the new extensively updated 9th edition Wine Behind the Label Wine Guide that is 2250 pages, it reviews around 4000 vineyards and over 30,000 wines.