Looking back over all the wines I tasted last year, the one that most impressed me was at a tasting held just a couple of weeks before Christmas at Wine Emotions in Carvoeiro.
This is far from the first time I have praised the wines of Luís Pato. Being such a fan of the Bairrada region, it is inevitable that I love his wines, as I am also equally fond of the wines produced by his daughter Luísa Pato.
It’s fair to say that when it comes to Bairrada, the ‘Ducks’ (i.e. the Pato family) rule the roost.
What I love about their wines is the respect they have for the region’s two most traditional grape varieties, Baga for red and Bical for white.
Luís Pato, in fact, goes as far as using only Baga in his whole range of reds.
In the mid-price range, he has the Vinhas Velhas red and white, around €14 and €8 respectively – the red an excellent example of how good a wine the Baga grape can produce as a varietal. Medium-bodied, soft and elegant in the mouth with mature berry fruit on the nose, it has more in common with a good Chianti than a Portuguese red. Then the white … a wine I am rarely without a few bottles of at home and have written about here previously – a fragrant white with considerable depth and structure, fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel.
But it was one of his premium wines, Vinha Formal white 2003, an old white by any standards, that most impressed me. Only recently released onto the market having been bottle-aged for 10 years after fermenting and ageing in French oak for six months, the wine has gained huge complexity.
Golden in colour, there are citrus and honey notes on the nose whilst the wine is both rich and fresh in the mouth with a long, long finish. It is in short supply and worth every cent of the 20-plus euro price range if you can find it.
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]