Before I continue talking about the rest of our Portugal trip I do want to say a few words about Luis Pato. Luis Pato is the 4th generation of wine making Pato family, who took over the family business from his father around the 1980’s. Luis Pato is a true legend in Portugal as he has had a very big impact on Barraida wines (or Beiras wines as he prefers calling them) or maybe even wines from all over Portugal… I think an addition of the words modernizer and innovator might be at its place here, as that is what he was/is for Portuguese wines. One of the biggest breaks with tradition was the changing from chestnut barrels to French oak and the usage of modern techniques like working with stainless steel vats. This innovation is a big step forward to be able to control the temperatures at which you want to do the fermentation and therefore also have a better control of the quality of your finished-product.
The words you are looking for are “cool” or “Wow, I didn’t know that “ 🙂 no just kidding, I know this might seem like a minor change, but I can guaranty you it wasn’t! I love talking to people like Luis Pato who have passion for what they do! The signs of knowing if people are doing their job with passion is for example the sparkle in their eyes when they are talking about it and when they are able to transmit this sparkle to you.. Also their drive on always wanting to make something new, to learn and experiment and trying to do “better” than the last time…
FYI the reason Luis is holding a duck, is because Pato means duck in Portuguese 🙂
At one side Luis broke with tradition by using new ‘more modern’ ways of making wine, but on the other hand he did embrace the “tradition” of only using only local and sometimes even forgotten grape varieties. A big surprise at that time was Luis putting a big focus on the “Baga” grape that until than had a reputation of producing harsh red wines that are not drinkable at young age and therefore need to age to mellow and lighten their flavors. This was before our dear friend Luis came along (for some reason I hearing the Superman tune in my head right now 😉 ). Luis Pato showed everybody Baga deserved more respect! I FYI Baga has similarities with the Italian Nebbiolo grape, and it can even approach the elegance of riper Pinot Noir vintages. To make long story shorter, it all went well and now thanks to Luis Pato (who influenced lots of winemakers on to also start doing this, now known as Baga friends) Baga wines are now know over the whole world and finally gets the recognition it always deserved! I had one sip of the 2001 Vinhas Velhas and was sold 🙂 (all the wines that followed just confirmed my first thought and feeling)
What I think is the biggest reward for somebody like Luis, is the recognition and the fact that winemakers from other regions in Portugal started to ask Luis’ help on improving their wine making and in that way also contributing in showing the world that Portugal is not just that country right next to Spain! Something I do hope to be part of one day is to one of Luis Pato’s famous signature lunches, where famous national and international chefs try to find the perfect dishes to serve with the Pato wines… 😉
Luis Pato’s future is also being covert, as not only Filipa, but also his other 2 daughters Luisa (who is also doing a very good job in making very nice olive oil) and Maria João help a hand in the wine making. And who knows maybe Fernao or Kiko (Filipa’s children)will be covering the 6th generation and get bitten by the same wine loving bugs as his all their ancestors… I do hope so! Luis did already make a wine to celebrate the birth of his grandson Ferñao 🙂
Find the whole Luis Pato wine assortment of wines on the following link