In November 2014 I was invited to transmit through photography the culture of vineyards, in order to show
the world what's behind an excellence wine brand
called Luis Pato.
(...) 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.
However, since 1999 his wines have not been labelled ‘Bairrada’, but rather by the broader designation of ‘Beiras’. Why? ‘The Portuguese government nominated a guy for the Bairrada head office who was not the right man’, explains Pato. ‘So to show a yellow card I moved from Bairrada to Beiras’.
Pato cites two reasons why he doesn’t want to come back to Bairrada. ‘I don’t want to be mixed with new world style commerce and the use of French grape varieties’, he says, ‘and I think that the Beiras region needs to be together, and Bairrada should just be a subregion for the top reds’. [But the news is that from the 2008 vintage, Pato will be using the Bairrada appellation for a couple of his wines: the Pe Franco and the Vinha Formal.]
Selected Vineyards Region
(...) Pato shows his open-mindedness in that he was the first overseas judge to participate in the International Wine Challenge, the world’s largest blind tasting held in London each year.
He describes this experience as ‘my tasting university’. Altogether he has assembled 65 hectares of vineyards, and makes a range of reds, whites and sparkling wines from 20 separate blocks in various terroirs within Bairrada.
His father had 40 hectares, his mother-in-law had 5 hectares, and he has bought 30 hectares, which means that he has rights to another 10 hectares of vines that currently aren’t planted. The range is quite complicated, but at its core are four top reds: the Vinhas Velhas, Vinha Pan and Vinha Barrosa, and the remarkable Pé Franco, made from ungrafted vines which Pato recently planted in his Riberinho vineyard. There is also a serious white wine, Vinho Formal, which has an interesting story behind it. (...)
The aim of the project was to show the pure reflection of the light on the ground and on the vineyards, and also the strong grounding with the own traditional brand history.
Some examples show the unknown complex that fills the inside of a bottle of wine. The light is bright. The dawn is full of life and energy by endless fields of leaves. The feature of the land in the region does well its role, it's pure, simple and well cared for. The colors are scattered and complete the palette of blue sky. Now the green gives rise to this set which soon disappears and reappears on the next season.
" Our Wine are the result of the combination between
the technical precision of the New World with the secular
tradition of the Old World. " Luis Pato
" For us, creating wines is not only a passion but also a pleasure.
To our rigour of cellar production we ally a creative capacity, typical
of our Latin origin. " Luis Pato