The King of Bairrada

It’s amazing to participate in the wine & spirits industry. On an ongoing basis we have the privilege of meeting passionate winemakers and winegrowers and tasting the result of their efforts.

Last month I found myself sitting at a table of colleagues tasting the wines of Luis Pato, otherwise known as the King of Bairrada. This man is a legend in the wine industry. He has championed the Baga grape in Portugal in the same way that Giacomo Bologna brought life back to the beleaguered Barbera grape in Italy in the 1980’s. Both are noble grapes that, when planted in the right soil and well handled, produce elegant, expressive and unique wines but both can produce rough, rather stern wines in the wrong hands.

He doesn’t just make red wine from Baga though. His sparkling wines and white wines are wonderfully elegant and expressive too. Moreover these wines are unique. Case in point – his sparkling Baga.

It’s not unusual for winegrowers to go through the vineyards and do a ‘green harvest’ before the grapes are fully ripe picking a number of unripe bunches thereby giving the remaining grapes more of the vine’s resources and producing better quality grapes.

Luis Pato does do a ‘green harvest’  early in his Baga vineyards but later in the season when the grapes are riper, but not yet fully ripe, he does another harvest and crushes those bunches to produce his remarkable sparkling Baga. The remaining bunches soldier on until the final fully ripe harvest. These lucky fruits are used in the production of his marvelous red wines.

We tasted:

Luis Pato Casta Baga Sparkling Rose 2010 – Grown in Chalky Clay soils, it is a pretty mid strawberry hue. A savoury nose of strawberry with hints of baby aspirin is followed by a tart attack of dense red cranberry. It opens to earthy dark fruit and begs to accompany almost any food you could choose. Great all occasion wine. Astonishing. +725371 $

Luis Pato Vinho Espumante Maria Gomes Sparkling White non vintage – Made from the little known Maria Gomes grape from his first harvest in the vineyard. The remaining grapes go on to ripen and produce his elegant white still wines. This one has a toasted almond nose. It’s delicious and drinky with notes of stone fruit and jasmine flowers. Great sparkler. Recommended with Japanese food. +725370 $

Luis Pato Maria Gomes 2015 – Picked one week after the sparkling wine. This little gem has a sweet perfumed, lemon-lime nose of candied banana. A round silken attack that just explodes on the palate with lemon lime acidity. Amazing texture, depth and length. Can age 5 – 6 years or drink it fresh! ❤  +783757 $

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas White 2013 – Clear bright greenish gold hue. Pretty roast pineapple nose with a hint of acetone. Meaty gorgeous silken attack that opens into a very green fruit (lime and apple) expression. Long mineral finish. Jancis R. gives this vintage 17.5/20! +725367 $

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Red 2009 – Smoky warm earthy nose of black plum, blackberry and cardboard with hints of cassis. Splashy dark attack of savoury cassis fruit.  Great structure with broad bright acidity. Aged in Chestnut casks. + 770059 $$

Luis Pato Casta Baga/Touriga Nacional 2013 – Pretty dark mid ruby hue. Big iodine nose of spiced cherry, old man sweater and band aids. Dark inky attack of raspberry and cassis with meaty hints of iron. Dry chalky finish. +725369 $

Luis Pato Vinha Pan 2013 – 100% Baga Clear mid ruby hue. New plastic nose of minty cassis with big cherry highlights. Gorgeous rich attack of chewy red plum, dark blueberry and blackberry fruit. Long tart finish. +725372 $$

Luis Pato Vinha Pan 2005 – Dark purple velvet hue. Gorgeous earthy, floral nose with hints of pepper and spice. Beautiful rich attack that is somehow delicate and expressive at the same time. Hints of raisin and mocha play hide and seek in this wonderfully textured wine. Do not miss this. +789263 $$$

Luis Pato Quinta do Moinho 2000 – Dark ruby velvet hue. Dark plummy nose of spiced Christmas cake with sweet leather and black licorice. Aged one year in new French Oak this wine lays out a gorgeous attack of velvet smooth fruit and delicious chewy sweet tannins followed by a long, dark and balanced finish. +789264 $$$

These wines are the work of a living legend. They are interesting in so many ways and must be tasted to be understood. The sparkling wines are a revelation and even if you’re a red wine drinker, the whites are not to be missed. Do yourself a favour and find these wines. The best stores will have at least some of them!



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