Luis Pato is one of Portugal’s best known winemakers.
Working from his family’s Quinta do Ribeirinho estate in the Beiras region of central Portugal he has almost single handedly rejuvenated the reputation for the Baga grape, a local variety that had long fallen from favor. His Baga wines are distinctively spicy and a bit wild. He also works with other Portuguese red grapes such as Touriga Nacional but has earned some notoriety over the years for his refusal to cultivate traditional French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. His white wines are also created from traditional Portuguese varieties such as Maria Gomes, Bical and Sercialinho.
His daughter Filipa is a trained winemaker too and participates in the making of Luis Pato wines as well as wines made under her own label.
The name Pato means ‘duck’ in Portuguese so duck imagery appears regularly on the wine labels.
Here are a few Luis Pato wines in a range of styles, red, white, young, mature, still and sparkling. I recommend all of them highly. These wines are all available at spanishtablewines.com
2009 Luis Pato Maria Gomes
The entry level white wine from Luis Pato is this varietal Maria Gomes (known elsewhere in Portugal as Fernao Pires) made in a young,fresh, unoaked style. Pale lemon hue with gentle aromas of wild herbs and citrus blossom. White peach and green melon fruit character is held in check by a subtle note of flinty minerality. Fabulous warm weather refreshment. $10.99
2008 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Branco
This blend of traditional Portuguese grape varieties from the Beiras region is made up of 50% Bical, 30% Cerceal and 20 % Sercialinho, all sourced from old vine vineyards. The yellow gold tint and dense texture create an expectation of age and weight but the wine is quite fresh and lively. A short few months in cask give a bit of gentle oak aroma to the wine but not so much as to obscure the apricot/white peach fruit character. At present this wine is reticent and somewhat muted but with age (or a few hours in a decanter) it will reveal its proper complexity. A whole baked fish stuffed with fresh green herbs would be a perfect match here. $17.99
2008 Luis Pato Espumante
The sparkling wine from Luis Pato is made up from 95% Maria Gomes(known elsewhere in Portugal as Fernao Pires) combined with 5% Arinto to create an assertively bubbly wine with floral aroma, tart citrus peel flavor and flinty minerality. Serve this on a hot day alongside some grilled fish (sardines are traditional). $13.99
2007 Luis Pato Baga Tinto
In the Beiras region of central Portugal the Baga grape is a traditional variety that is enjoying a bit of a renaissance thanks in large part to the work of Luis Pato, a relentless champion of this little known variety. In this young, unoaked version the Baga grape expresses a bright, lean character that evokes scents and flavors of cranberry and tea leaf. Delicate berry-like fruit character is present but not obvious or intrusive. A lightly bitter/twiggy note at the end is reminiscent of Cabernet Franc from Chinon or Mencia from Bierzo. This wine makes a fabulous accompaniment to chicken grilled in the Portuguese style with piri-piri pepper sauce. $13.99
2005 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Tinto
Vinhas Velhas (translates as ‘Old Vines’) is a bold red wine made from 100% Baga sourced from vines that are at least 40 years old. After fermentation the wines spend fifteen months in large used oak barrels. It displays dark garnet color and aromas of ripe berries with a bit of Amarone-ish raisin. The flavor is spicy and earthy at the same time with dark berry fruit character and background minerality. Roast pork in all its forms will work well here. $29.99
2003 Luis Pato Primeira Escolha
Luis Pato blends equal proportions of old vine Baga and Touriga Nacional from his best estate vines (primeira escolha translates as ‘first choice’) then ages them briefly (4-5 months) in oak after fermentation with several additional years of bottle age prior to release. The dark mulberry color and lightly funky/gamey aroma give way to pure elegant dark berry fruit character supported by gentle tannins. This wine presents an intriguing contrast between the precise and the rustic. It will pair well with grilled pork chops and white beans. $32.99
1990 Luis Pato Vinhas Velhas Tinto
This mature version of Vinhas Velhas is 100% Baga like the current release but with decades of age the wine has fully come unto its own. The high acidity of the tart Baga grape has evolved and softened. The initially firm tannins are now supple. This wine is brick red in color with notes of dried fruit, tea leaves and dusty minerality. Only 10 cases were imported to the USA and we have just a few bottles to offer. $47.99
Clay Cazuela Cooking Class
In this class, we will learn all about cooking in the traditional Spanish cazuelas (terracotta cookware) as together we prepare several classic Spanish recipes. All of the fantastic foods for this class, from quick cooked appetizers to slow braised stews and even dessert, will be prepared using Spanish cazuelas. Cooking in clay is an ancient way to transform simple ingredients into delicious meals. In Spain, the earthenware cazuela is the required vessel necessary to prepare any number of recipes both ancient and modern.
The class is on Monday August 9th at 6:30 pm. The location is Kitchen On Fire cooking school, located in Berkeley at 1509 Shattuck Ave. the cost is $65 per person which includes hands-on instruction, printed recipes and dinner. Details and registration can be found on the Kitchen On Fire web site at: https://www.kitchenonfire.com/classes/view/id/1174