Bairrada is famous for red wines, but the wider Beiras area benefits from late afternoon breezes which favour the production of fresh white wines, here from lovingly tended bical vines, producing a taut, appley flavour with richness on the palate.
Product Code: PW3754
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Young Filipa Pato is the daughter of a famous father (Luis Pato), and shares his love of experimentation, of old vines, and of the sometimes challenging grapes of the Bairrada region. Like her father she was a scientist first. She spent time working in wineries in Bordeaux and Argentina before settling back in Portugal to establish her own business, and raise her two sons with her sommelier/restaurateur husband. Most of her vineyards are leased and in the past some were as far afield as the neighbouring Dao region but today she focuses on Bairrada. She produces the full range of styles in her modest cellar, from elegant sparkling wines which are so much a part of the local cuisine (sparkling pink in particular is the locals' wine of choice to accompany traditional suckling pig), through fine whites and reds, and including a delicious fortified wine. She is a founder member of Baga Friends, a small group of like-minded producers with the goal of promoting this re-emerging grape.
Like its neighbour Spain, Portugal has been undergoing something of a quiet revolution over the last twenty years or so. A reluctance to follow trends and plant international grapes is now paying dividends and the new breed of full-blooded, fruit-filled wines are more than able to compete on the world stage. The unique flavours that are the hallmark of Portugal's indigenous grape varieties have become its trump card. Vinho Verde, sometimes spritzy and youthful and sometimes made with the aim of creating a more serious white wine, is in the verdant north-west, bordering the Spanish province of Galicia. A wet and fertile area, the grapes ripen with moderate sugar levels and refreshing acidity, meaning that the wines are usually lowish in alcohol at about 10-11%. Astringent, low alcohol red Vinho Verde is also produced. Trás-os-Montes is a remote region of harsh winters and hot, dry summers in the north-east of the country is bound on one side by high mountains and on the other the border with Spain (the name means 'behind the mountains'. The schistous soils and the grapes are similar to those of the Douro. Reds are often lighter and more aromatic than those of neighbouring Douro.The Douro is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, and deservedly Portugal's best known, the Douro has quickly emerged to lead the way as the country's premium wine region and there is a real pioneering spirit amongst the winemakers here, port shippers included. Although there is an enormous variety of different terroirs within the Douro Valley, this is essentially a sparsely populated, hot, arid region where grapes are grown on spectacularly steep terraced slopes. Wine grapes are the same as those that go into Port. Wines tend to be high in tannin and flavour.Dão is south of the Douro on granite slopes protected by high mountains and pine forests. The region produces one of Portugal's better-known reds of the same name. Once dominated by rather lack-lustre co-operatives, the area now has a whole clutch of dynamic, small producers making elegant, approachable and enjoyable wines.Between the mountains and the coast, on fertile clay soils, is Bairrada (barro is Portuguese for clay). Better known for red wines, this is one of the only wine regions in Portugal to be dominated by a single grape variety,the tannic, high-acid baga, making wines that can be tough and astringent in their youth but which soften with age, becoming beguilingly perfumed. These days many blend baga with non-indigenous grapes to make a friendlier style, but the greatest are pure baga. The area also benefits from late-afternoon breezes which favour the production of fresh, food-friendly whites and increasingly popular sparkling wines.Beira Interior is a rather disparate region covering a vast swathe of inland Portugal south of the Douro and east of Dão. Vineyards are grown at altitude on granite soils. In the north, grapes are similar to those of the Douro while the south has a whole mix of varieties. Lisboa is a large, coastal region that runs north from Lisbon. Atlantic breezes help cool the vineyards and maintain the fresh acidity and aromatics in the mostly white wines. North of Bucelas, on the Atlantic west coast lies the strip of rolling countryside that contains nine separate DOCs under the umbrella name of Lisboa. This is Portugal's largest wine producing region in volume terms.Bucelas was the first wine The Society ever sold! This tiny DOC is one of the closest to Lisbon. It produces breezy dry whites which are popular locally.Tejo was formerly known as Ribatejo is known for good, everyday drinking wines in a range of styles from a wide range of permitted grapes. This region lies on either side of the River Tagus Lying across the mouth of theTagus river, the Península de Setúbal is a flat, sandy region with the exception of the Serra da Arrábida a short chain of mountains with clay and limestone soils. There are two DOCs here, Palmela north-east of the peninsula where the castelão grape is ideally suited to the sandy soils, and Setúbal, where a sweet fortified wine is made primarily from muscat of Alexandria.The Alentejo province stretches south from the Tagus to the Algarve and east to the border with Spain and covers almost a third of continental Portugal. Divided into seven diverse sub-regions, the undulating hills are home to many crops. Despite the challengingly arid climate here, this is a dynamic region, referred to sometimes as Portugal's 'new world'.
Good, well-balanced wines were made with the north shining, particularly in vinho verde country. The residual water left over from the wet winter of 2010 and further rain in the following winter was important in sustaining the vines in this drier summer, particularly for the Douro and Bairrada, and this was topped up with some late August and September rain. The harvest there was carried out in excellent conditions by and large and it has ended up being a very good vintage indeed, particularly for tourigan nacional and touriga franca. Reds across Portugal did well and some lovely whites were made in regions such as Beiras, Minho (vinho verde), Bairrada, Dão, Lisboa and Setúbal.Port - 2011 is only the second universal declaration since 2003 and there really is excellence throughout, marked by great purity of fruit, minerality and freshness overlaying richness and power. There is exceptional depth of colour and concentration of flavour, with wild-berry fruit and bitter-chocolate to the fore, all built on a foundation of well-structured tannins that will provide for a long, long life. There had been rumours at harvest time that great things were expected and it is pleasing to be able to say that the vintage does not disappoint.
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The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
It is generally accepted that alcohol levels in wine have been increasing in the last 20 years. There are many reasons why, but the single most important factor is the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most are intrusive and strip flavour as well as alcohol and we don't buy wines made in this way. In actual fact, more than half of our still table wines have an abv of 13% or less. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's main components of sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Members should refer to the wine's tasting note for a description of the style and fullness of the wine.
The Society is committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows them to make their own informed choices. An additional figure is beginning to be used on labels: the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content. Thus a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units of alcohol. All new labels of Society and Exhibition wines will include this information. drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork.
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Now to 2016
Ready to drink now but will keep until 2016.
2018 to 2042
We recommend keeping longer before opening. In 2018 it will be ready to drink but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years.
Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.