by Treve Ring | I drink/taste a boatload of wines, many good, most average, a lot of plonk, and a slight few, awesome…
Luis Pato | Vinhas Velhas Branco 2012 | +403881 | Beiras VR, Portugal | $25.99
I appreciate obscure, curious and off-the-beaten-track wines, and I value tradition and time in practice and patience. This wine epitomizes both traits. Luis Pato’s family has been producing wine since the 18th century, and his father, Joâo was the first to bottle wine in Bairrada DOC after it was officially demarcated as an appellation in 1979. “Bairrada” is from “barros” (clay) and due to the clay-laden soils throughout the area. Though the region was relatively recently recognized by the rule books, it is an ancient area for grape growing. Viticulture in Bairrada has existed since at least the 10th century, when the area gained independence from the Moors. Recognized for its deep, full and tannic reds, the wines of Bairrada were sought after during the 17th century when the Douro’s illustrious Port houses – pressed to satisfy the growing British tastes for Port – would blend in wines from the region to ramp up quantity.
Together with his father, Luis is credited with bringing Bairrada back to life, legitimately. Though the Pato name (Portuguese for duck, and referenced by the bird in flight on the label) is rockstar synonymous with Bairrada, this brand new-to-BC-wine is sourced from the neighbouring and lesser-known Beiras region, just outside of the demarcated Bairrada borders.
Unoaked and raised in stainless steel, this bright trio of indigenous Becal, Cerceal and Sercialinho grapes highlight their pure-fruited nature and chalky clay soils like a mirror. 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. The pretty girl with the ugly sweater reading The Book of Disquiet in the corner at the party. I love the unapologetic authenticity of this wine, in a “yeah, I don’t care what you think about me because this is what I am and if you don’t like it then zarpar.”