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. Now that the regulations in Bairrada have changed, allowing growers in the region to use other varieties, you could say that Pato is a neo-traditionalist.
Baga has a reputation for making rather stern red wines, that are unapproachable in their youth and which often never resolve into mellowness with age. It also makes sparkling white wines which match perfectly with the gastronomic specialty of this region – the famous suckling pig, leitão. While it’s true that Baga can produce rather tannic, fruitless wines that are tough and somewhat joyless, Pato has shown that Baga deserves a bit more respect than it’s often given. I find that it makes wines that share some characteristics with Italian grape Nebbiolo, and it can even approach the elegance of Pinot Noir in riper vintages. Pato’s background is that he trained as a chemical engineer before taking over his parent’s winery in the early 1980s. As soon as he was up and running, he began to experiment. He started destemming his wines, which was unusual at the time, and he began to use small oak barrels, some of them new. He also blended in some Touriga Nacional. Quickly his wines caught the attention of the critics.
Just as sparkling rosé’s from the Jura (as well as sparkling rosé’s from Piedmont) are charmingly full of fruit, baking spice and a bit of savory rusticity…. so too does this sparkling Baga rosé and for a fraction of the price. Louis Pato really outdoes himself with this wine, we hope you enjoy!