Wine: Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Tinto 2010

Country: Portugal
Region: Beiras (though specifically, if not labelled as such, Bairrada)
Grape & ABV: Baga / 13%
Vintage: 2010
Producer: Luis Pato

As I embark on the Cigar Monologues’ first wine review I note, strangely, that I am probably more qualified to review wines than I am cigars…  I work in the industry (owning a ‘hobby’ wine importing company) and have done numerous poncy wine courses.

This is a wine which I recently spotted this in Decanter magazine’s feature on the Bairrada region of Portugal.  Bairrada was historically very important to Portugal’s wine industry.  As a result of this importance, the region was home to Portugal’s first school of viticulture (from 1887).  The producer of this wine, Luis Pato, seemed to be a passionate character, so I had to pick up a bottle – hoping it had as much character as the man who made it.  I picked it up from Corks Out in Chester – which is a delightful little shop, part of a small chain in the areas – when I was visiting the Turmeus tobacconist for a sampling session with Dan (CM‘s occasional guest blogger).

This wine is made from the Baga grape, which is the signature grape of the region.  Whilst potentially high-yielding, it has issues.

Pato Vinhas Velhas 2010

Wines made using the Baga grape can be aggressively tannic as a result of both the grape’s properties and the traditional wine making techniques of the region.  The grape’s have a high skin to pulp ratio due to their size, and ripen very late.  Given the Bairrada region’s climate this can lead to reduced sugar development and relatively acidic wines.  To help counter the cultivar’s vigorous nature, Pato prunes the vines twice to help focus the plant on filling the grapes harvested for the still wine.  This helps reduce acidity and, consequentially, astringency.  The traditional wine making technique of the region is rather rustic, with crushing and fermentation taking place including the stems.  Luis Pato’s techniques are more refined, however, removing stems and treating the product with great care.  As a result he has made a wonderful wine here – there are tannins there, giving excellent structure, but they’re quite soft (not aggressive at all).

Appearance…
Plum-red colour.  Light around the edges – pink, with just a slight brownish hue.

Nose…
This wine had a lovely, rounded, aroma: cedar and tobacco with a little red-berry fruit and warming cinnamon.  There was even a hint of marzipan.

Taste…
Excellent – soft and fruity (given the soft but firm tannins it’s almost like a Pinot Noir on steroids). Feint chocolatey and tobacco notes.

Verdict…
18/20 – An excellent wine!  If you get a chance to try a glass (or a bottle) do not turn down the opportunity.  This is something a little different, combining some of the best characteristics found in other regions.  The soft fruitiness of a Burgundy, with the body of a Bordeaux, and the warmth of a Cotes du Rhone.  Very alluring – and every bit as characterful as Luis Pato himself.

Cost: £19.95
Merchant: Corks Out (Chester)