The wines of Luis Pato, Bairrada star


The wines of Luis Pato, Bairrada star

luis pato

Luis Pato is perhaps the most famous face in Bairrada, even though he’s had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the regional authorities, that led him for a time to drop ‘Bairrada’ and move to labelling his wines as Beiras, the larger regional appellation.

Pato is known as a modernist, but he makes wines that also integrate the best traditions of the region. One of the keys to making more serious wines from Baga, the red grape of the region, is reducing yields. ‘Baga was producing too much and only made great wines two years out of ten,’ he says. ‘Now we have cut the yields we can make great wine eight years out of ten.’ He also thinks there is a great future for sparkling wines of the region.

Luis was the first in the region to do a green harvest, in 1990. When he started doing it, his workers were distressed. ‘He is crazy,’ they said. ‘He is against God.’ Now he harvests Baga for sparkling wine three weeks earlier than picking for reds, from the same vineyard.

This was a great chance to look at current releases, and also to look back and see just how well some of these wines can age, red and white. We also got to compare the effect of sandy soils versus chalk and clay on Baga, through the lens of his Pe Franco wines made from ungrafted vines.

Luis Pato Vinha Pan Espumante 2015 Bairrada
This is made with no added sulfites, 100% Baga from chalky/clay soils, zero dosage. Intense and citrussy, and a bit sherbetty with a zesty palate and good acidity. Lovely purity and drive here, and a bit salty. 90/100

Luis Pato Informal Baga de Vinha Pan Espumante 2013
This is a pink fizz from Baga. Lively and taut with raspberry, strawberry and some herbs. Shows lively spiciness with nice intensity and lovely fruit. 89/100

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2016 Bairrada
This is 50% Bical from chalky/clay soil, 25% Sercial from sandy soils and 25% Sercialinho from sandy soils. Crisp and intense. Youthful with lovely pear and citrus fruit, and a hint of pithiness. Very pure with good acidity. 92/100


Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2014 Bairrada
Fresh, lively and intense with crisp citrus fruit. Mineral and taut with nice density. Intense with good acid drive. 92/100

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2009 Bairrada
Bical chalky clay and Sercial and Sercialino from sandy soils. No oak. Some melon and pear fruit with fine toast and some softness on the mid-palate. Nice breadth here with a delicacy, and well integrated acidity. 90/100

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2007 Bairrada
Yellow/gold in colour. Lively, spicy and citrussy with some toasty notes. Has some butterscotch and also a lively spicy acidity. Lovely crystalline fruits quality here. Showing some evolution but still retaining freshness. 90/100

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2004 Bairrada
Full yellow/gold character. Toast, spice and nuts with some crystalline citrus fruits and a lovely depth, with good acidity. Nice weight with some development, and some savoury detail. Some singed lemon peel and marmalade characters here. 92/100

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2001 Bairrada
Only sandy soils for all varieties, fermented in new French oak. Nutty and oxidative, and deep in colour. Has raisins, herbs and the fruit has gone. Some baked apple notes. 85/100

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 2000 Bairrada
Spicy and nutty with nice depth. Has citrus intensity, with some tangerine and lemon notes, and some citrus pith under the fruit. Vivid and weighty with some development but also some life. Lovely nutty/waxy detail. 90/100

Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 1998 Bairrada
Very interesting with nuts, spice, a hint of raisin, some nectarine, marmalade and lemons. Has good acidity underpinning the fruit. Ageing really nicely, with complex nutty depth and just a hint of mushroom. Beguiling. 92/100


Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco 1991 Bairrada
Orange colour. This is from sandy soils and was fermented in new oak. Powerful and spicy with marmalade, herbs and apricot flavours. Very intense and still alive with some spicy citrus notes. Quite beautiful. 93/100


Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2016 Bairrada
Bical with 30% Serial, chalky clay soil. Lively with nice precision and a bit of pith. Really intense with nice lemon, pear and spice notes. Juicy and focused. Lovely. 92/100

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2010 Bairrada
Pure Bical from chalky/clay soil, fermented and aged in new French oak. Complex, slightly smoky, spicy, citrus fruit nose. Vivid, intense and citrussy on the palate with lovely texture and weight. Shows lovely weight and intensity with fine spicy complexity and good acidity. Very fine. 94/100

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2008 Beiras
Vivid, spicy, crystalline citrus fruits nose. Very fine toasty hints. The palate is fresh and intense with vivid lemony fruit and some lovely spicy marmalade detail. Pithy, spicy, complex and intense with great freshness and lovely acidity. Lovely wine. 94/100

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2004 Beiras
Yellow/gold colour. This has lots of interest: there is a smoky, mineral undercurrent to the spicy lemon and pear fruit, with a hint of apple and fine toasty hints, as well as some subtle mushroomy hints. Lovely wine. 93/100

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2003 Beiras
Surprisingly fresh for such a warm year, with nice acidity, some apple notes, a bit of spice, and vivid citrus and pear fruit. Good concentration and depth with fine spiciness. The acid core is what makes this wine work so well. Lovely. 93/100

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 2001 Beiras
This is quite rich and developed with some raisin hints, some baked apple and a bit of lemon curd sweetness. Attractive in a sort of mellow maturity. 89/100

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 1999 Bairrada
Bold and intense with sweet apple and pear with nice citrus and spice. Shows some development with the appley richness, but also has a bit of freshness, with nuts and good acidity. Very attractive. 90/100

Luis Pato Vinha Formal 1998 Bairrada
Full yellow colour. This is beautiful: textured and creamy with lovely smooth, slightly saline crystalline citrus fruits with some melon richness, and hints of nuts and toast. Very fine with lovely depth: this is ageing so well. 93/100


This was an interesting comparison. It was looking at Baga grown on ungrafted vines in two vineyards 9 km apart. The Valadas comes from chalky clay soil while the straight Pé Franco comes from sandy soils. The Baga from sandy soils shows more acid and tannin so needs more time in new French oak, while the chalky clay makes wines that are much more smoky. ‘If I put this in new oak, people say it is too oaky,’ says Luis. So he uses used oak for this wine.

Luis Pato Pé Franco Valadas Vineyard 2015 Bairrada
Supple, fresh and detailed with lovely freshness and appealing raspberry and red cherry fruit. Has lovely acidity and such a supple, elegant character. The tannins are well integrated. Lovely elegance and precision. 95/100

Luis Pato Pé Franco Quinta de Riberinho 2015 Bairrada
Complex with some sweet spicy oak hiding under sweet but fresh cherry and berry fruit. Ripe, intense and firm with grippy tannins. It still hasn’t integrated the oak. There’s lots of potential but it’s tannic now. 93/100


Luis Pato Vinha Barossa 2015 Bairrada
Very elegant, supple and fine. Sweet and juicy with lovely red cherry fruit and a bit of spice. There’s a silky texture with a bit of tannic grip, and smooth pure fruit. Very juicy and lively. 94/100


Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Tinto 1988 Bairrada
Earth, spice and tar and some grip. Earthy and intense with some tannins. Rasping, grippy and firm with nice fruit still. 93/100

Luis Pato Vinha Pan 2015 Bairrada
Very floral and expressive with amazing cherry fruit aromas. The palate is so pretty and pure with red cherries and raspberries. Silky and expressive with nice purity. Has some stony spiciness under the fruit. 94/100

Luis Pato Vinha Pan 1999 Bairrada
This was a difficult vintage but the wine has developed beautifully. Earthy and spicy with nice density. Grippy yet elegant with good structure. Drinking beautifully now. 94/100

Luis Pato Vinha Pan 1997 Bairrada
Highly aromatic and developed with beguiling leafy green, spicy, earthy, malty cherry fruits. The palate is harmonious and elegant with smooth, sweet, subtly leafy earthy fruit. Very smooth and delicious. Lovely stuff but drink up. 93/100

Luis Pato Vinha Barossa 1997 Bairrada
Lively, spicy and intense with vivid raspberries and cherries, and some freshness. Has earth and tar, and a hint of plummy bitterness on the finish. Developed but still with some grip and some edges. 93/100

Luis Pato Vinha Pan 1996 Bairrada
Vivid and supple with nice spiciness. There’s some finesse to this as well as good structure still. Fine spices and attractive fruit characters. 93/100

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