A great privilege today attending a fascinating masterclass tasting with the great Bairrada master, and original rebel, Luis Pato. The wines have come a long way since his first hobby winemaking vintage in 1980, before releasing his first official vintage in 1984.
But Luis Pato is certainly a pioneer in the true sense of the word, who has single handedly put Bairrada and its indigenous Baga varietal on the global fine wine map. Known as the Baga rebel, Luis has relished his freedom as a wine making maverick, making and breaking many rules over the past 35 years in the quest to produce the very best wines the Bairrada terroirs can deliver.
Luis is also one of the founding members of Baga Friends, a small quality-led group formed to promote Baga more widely, a grape which has been established in Bairrada for more than 800 years.
Tasting Notes from the Masterclass:
Vinha Pan 2013, Bairrada, 13 Abv.
Powerful aromatics that bust forth with roses, parma violets, cherry blossom and exotic pot pourri spice nuances. A really deep core of red cherries, red plum confit, sweet bramble berries and delicious wild strawberries. Delicate mineralite of dusty granite and graphite complexity. Palate is beautifully textured, fruit forward and plush, with vibrant tart acids, cherry sherbet, sweet red currant and tart red plums. Impressive intensity, focus and length. A really delicious expression.
(Wine Safari Score: 94/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Pan 2015, Bairrada (Barrel Sample)
Dusty mineral spicy nose with plenty of red and black cherry fruits, foresty spice, bramble berry and hedge row complexity. Real power and intensity, layers of graphite and wood spice spar with sweet, tart red fruits and beautifully lifted violet perfume notes. Palate shows massive concentration and a more taught linear character, with slightly youthful angular acids and greater mid-palate powdery tannin tension than the 2013. Going to need time in bottle, but should blossom into one of the great Vinha Pan expressions.
(Wine Safari Score: 95+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Barrosa 2013, Bairrada, 13 Abv.
Made from grapes from multiple ripeness pickings, using 3 to 4 bunches per vine, the 2013 has its archetypal eucalyptus, spearmint leaf and sweet cassis nose reminiscent of a cool vintage Australian red. Beautiful layers of bramble berry, frais de bois and stalk spice abound. The palate is vibrant, intense, with wonderful sweet / sour plum notes, boiled cassis bon bons, maritime salinity, black forest berries and chalky mineral tannins. So suave, accessible and deliciously vibrant and fresh, this is drinkable now but will certainly develop additional foresty complexity over the next decade.
(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Barrosa 2015, Bairrada (Barrel Sample)
Another big bold wine from a superb vintage in the Bairrada. Rich, opulent depth of fruit resonates from the glass, showing a slightly more oldy worldy, black fruited expression with more graphite minerality, stalky spice, and cassis salinity, while never losing the underlying spearmint, eucalyptus, boiled cassis bon bon notes. The palate decouples slightly from the nose, delivering a delicious, opulent, fleshy mouthful of cherry cola and exotic fruit perfection. Hard to see how this wine can be more complete and harmonious. Give this 5 years and drink over the next 20+. True class.
(Wine Safari Score: 96/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Pan 2011, Bairrada, 13 Abv.
Lovely complex aromatics with lifted exotic notes of boot polish, polished mahogany, and sweet earthy brambley forest berry fruit nuances. Developing earthy, savoury, stewed red fruit compote notes, touch of earth and tannery leather and dusty, stalky spice. Palate is fresh, taught, and structured with more masculine tannins, cherry sherbet bon bon notes and a drying, spicy, graphite grip on the finish. A more severe, classic vintage as Luis says, that he feels can age for up to 30 years plus. Nevertheless, beautiful balance, intensity and great potential for the future.
(Wine Safari Score: 94+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Barrosa 2009, Bairrada, 13 Abv.
A dark, rich, broody nose with dense, dark back fruits, raisined black currant, savoury black berry and raisined red cherries. The wine suggests a lot on the nose, but reveals little. The palate too shows great restraint, dusty chalky minerality, dense, sleek ripe tannins with great textural power. The wine has delicious acidity, ripe sweet fleshy tannins and a mouth filing, power packed, well honed masculine physique. A thoroughly beguiling wine with plenty of intrigue but also great development potential.
(Wine Safari Score: 95/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Pan 1998, Bairrada, 13.5 Abv.
A more difficult year in Portugal, with cool weather until September, with the grapes limping to ripeness. The nose does show the cool, herbaceous, dusty minerality more reminiscent of Pinot Noir from Burgundy or cool climate Willamette Valley, Oregon. So youthful, the wine shows wonderful ageworthy notes of paprika, camphor, sappy spice, black berry, and chalky minerality. Delicious subtle savoury hints more evident on the palate, dampened by fresh herbaceous notes, subtle tea leaf and sweet red current fruits on the finish. A vibrant, youthful wine that is masterfully complex and balanced from a challenging vintage. No rush to drink this up.
(Wine Safari Score: 92/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Pan 1996 En Magnum, Bairrada, 13.5 Abv.
Beautifully plush, deep, broody nose with earthy cassis, black plum, garrigue, dried pot pourri, sour plum and bramble berry hints. Beautifully lifted, sweet fruited, fleshy, with a multitude of youthful black fruit flavours from a vintage supposed to be much more difficult than even 1998 due to intermittent rains. This is a very accomplished wine that transcends vintage conditions and serves to elevate the winemaking greatness of Luis Pato himself. The finish is fleshy, cool, suave and so elegant, with ample freshness, sweet tannins, and fine powdery grip. So youthful, thoroughly delicious now.
(Wine Safari Score: 96+/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Barrosa 1998, Bairrada, 13.5 Abv.
Darker fruited, more savoury expression evident in this 1998 expression. There are hints of savoury red berry confit, diesel rag, tart cherry, sappy black berry and developing sweet tannery leather hints. More developed aromatically, the palate is fleshy and savoury, with stewed strawberries, garrigue, vermouth botanical notes and subtle sappy spicy tannins on the finish. Quite picante and chalky, this is ready to drink now.
(Wine Safari Score: 91/100 Greg Sherwood MW)
Vinha Barrosa 1996 En Magnum, Bairrada, 13.5 Abv.
The 1996 differential with the 1998, are less pronounced than with the Vinha Pan cuvée. Served from magnum, this wine certainly shows fine herbal lift, medicinal notes, sweet tobacco, and earthy complex forest berries. The palate is sweet fruited, fleshy and broad, dense and slightly exotic, with mint, cassis boiled sweets, strawberry and sweet earthy leather notes with sappy, mineral complexity. Drinking well now, there is a real sweet pocket on the finish. Another accomplished wine from a challenging vintage.
(Wine Safari Score: 93/100 Greg Sherwood MW)