Luis Pato (which is Portuguese for ‘duck’) is the best-known producer in the Bairrada region. He’s widely regarded as the modernizer who brought a struggling region back to life, but I think it’s unfair to see him just in this light, because his wines have a traditional side to them, and he’s also a champion of the local red grape, Baga. He’s a bit of a maverick, pushing boundaries with no time for rules. He has the vision to experiment, regularly trying out new things, making improvements little by little in a constant drive to get the best from his grapes. Though he trialled using international varieties (upsetting the Bairrada authorities at the time) he now firmly believes that the future of his region depends on making world-class wines from indigenous varieties and its signature red grape, baga, in particular. He is one of the founding members of Baga Friends, a small quality-led group formed to promote the grape more widely. He now only works with Portuguese grapes, Baga, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Cão for reds, maria gomes (Fernão Pires), Bical, Cerceal and a grape that Pato believes nobody else has, Sercialinho. Luis describes himself as a ‘free’ winemaker. He believes that the fact that he trained as a chemical engineer and not an oenologist has given him a different perspective on making wine. His philosophy marries old-world style and Latin-born influence with an appreciation of a more Anglo-Saxon style vision. Oh, and he is also a pragmatist! Filipa, Pato’s daughter, also a trained chemical engineer, hasn’t just followed in her father’s footsteps, she’s gained a reputation in her own right. An innovator like her father with a similar bent for pushing boundaries. One thing that father and daughter share too is a desire to make wines as naturally as possible. ‘We worked in the chemical industry,’ explains Luis, ‘we don’t want to have to pay for their chemicals!’ Filipa says she aims to make ‘authentic wines without make-up’.
Smoked stone, herbal white grapefruit, pear skin and lemon pith on the nose carry to a creamy, oily, leesy texture with ripe bitter melon, white peach, Asian pear, quince, wild honey, pine nuts and a perfumed elderflower blossom. Beautiful freshness and energy, tempered by a bitter edge.