Luís Pato Fernão Pires

Red from white?

There is nothing new about making white wine from red grapes – blanc de noir as it is known. After all, the predominant grapes in most Champagne are red, ending up as white wine when the must has no contact with the red skins during fermentation. But how about making red wine from white grapes?

Well, from white alone, it is simply not possible without food colouring, but the Bairrada region’s venerable winemaker-come-crazy-inventor Luís Pato has created something that is very close. Luís Pato Fernão Pires, as the name suggests, is made from the Fernão Pires grape, but he has added just 6% red Baga grapes.

Before trying the wine and having read this on the label, I was expecting a rosé of some description, but no, this wine is of a deep red colour, darker in fact than many a red wine from red grapes. This has been achieved by fermenting the must of both varieties together in the style of an orange wine, i.e. in contact with the skins for longer than usual, extracting pretty much all of the colour from both.

The wine is not oaked and on the nose is intensely fruity with notes of red berry jelly. In the mouth, there is a touch of sweetness, but the tannins ensure a dry finish. The structure and body are that of a medium-bodied white wine and it is best drunk chilled.

The wine currently on sale is the 2012 and it has clearly benefitted from a few years in the bottle – I am told that a couple of years younger, the tannins made it harder to approach. Now it is mellow, fresh and fruity, an altogether original and totally different wine to anything I have tried.

This is not an easy wine to find and the only place I know that sells is the Terroir wine shop and kitchen in Carvoeiro, where I tried it last week. The wine can also be bought from Wine Emotions, the wine distribution company under the same ownership as Terroir – good value at €12.

By Patrick Stuart
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