Missão & Rexarte: enchanting 2015 single vineyard Bagas from Filipa Pato & William Wouters and Vadio
I’ve described it as unmissable, great. An example has been a Wine of the Month. And the superlatives about Bairrada’s 2015 Bagas keep coming. This week in the delightful shape of three bottles of Baga, which I tasted at home. Two of them all-new single vineyard Bagas from the region’s generation next winemakers, Filipa Pato and her husband William Wouters and Luis Patrão and his partner Eduarda Dias of Vadio.
Incidentally, in this post reviewing Luis Pato’s excellent 2015 Bagas (and much older vintages), the experienced hand talks about the magic of years featuring a five and 20 year cycles. But it has to be said, Bairrada has had a great run of vintages, so if you have missed out on the 2015s, do not despair. By all accounts 2016 was a very good vintage and 2017s are looking good.
Filipa Pato & William Wouters Nossa Missão 2015 (Bairrada)
From a tiny vineyard which the couple bought from an eighty year old man, who inherited it from his grandfather. So it is thought to be at least 130 years old. Perhaps even a pre-phylloxera survivor, since it is on own roots. The Missão vineyard is located on a mild incline, oriented east, on shallow limestone with red clay and pebbles. The Baga was hand harvested and sorted, with only a part de-stemmed. The wine was, as usual, naturally fermented, with punch downs over three weeks. The free run was run off by gravity and the marc slowly, very gently, pressed for blending back. The wine was then aged for 18 months in pipas, which is when I first encountered it in December 2016 (yes, from the barrel pictured above – my report of that visit here). It’s always lovely to taste the finished article, especially when the production is so low. It’s a very special wine. This deep crimson, semi-opaque Baga’s beguiling nose entrances from the off. Gorgeous spice, with coltsfoot/aniseed, red liquorice, lavender and earth (stems) and a play of violets, rising….a real chorus of which to approve! Bright, well-defined red cherry, black berry and currant and sweet plum chime in more loudly on the palate, if treading lightly, such is their freshness, levity and life. The fruit seems to permeate the pithy, ripe but present tannins, which cradle the flavours from tip to toe, suggesting that this Baga has a long life ahead. Its makers suggest 30 years plus and, whilst my bottle – one of 510 (and 30 magnums) produced – won’t make it, I hope to have the chance to taste it in my (and its) dotage. However, I can tell you that, on days two and three, the whole bunch riffs offered up more lavender, meaty (smoky charcuterie) and mushroom notes; the sweet liquorice/anise notes built too, whilst the red and black fruits – a touch sweeter – continued their lively dance. Terrific, with more intensity, earth and spice than Nossa Calcario, which is a blend of old vineyards. Like I said, Unmissão! 12.5%
Vadio Rexarte 2015 (Bairrada)
And now for something completely different. Rexarte Baga is from a young parcel which Luis Patrão and his partner Eduarda Dias re-planted in 2009. Dias explained that the vineyard is mostly planted to white varieties because the soils are sandy but, on a small, north-facing hill (c. 300m), the soil transitions from sand to clay and limestone, which is where they planted the Baga. She confided “[T]his was not a spot where initially we had high expectations in terms of quality, but surprisingly the wines from this vineyard have been consistently excellent,” adding “[W]e have been noticing that our best quality grapes come from vineyards on hills.” But it’s not the only quality factor. When I visited with the couple in 2017 (my report here), Patrão told me that he had re-planted the vines at higher density (5,000 vines/ha) with the ‘Poeirinho’ clone (a very old, small bunch/berry less productive Baga clone) and was using cover crop and cordon-train new vines (spur pruned) on a high trellis to reduce yields and open up the canopy (“good for maturation and to avoid disease”). So what of the wine? Compared with the regular bottling (reviewed below), Rexarte is a significantly deeper hue and opaque with purple flashes. The nose, fresh and mineral, immediately takes you to Baga, Bairrada and chalky clay soils. In line with the house style, the tannins have a softness about them. Cashmere-like, they are super-fine in texture, powdery and plentiful. Most definitely ripe, as is the silky black berry and cherry fruit, with some red cherry bite. Hints of violets and pine resin intrigue, showing more emphatically on day three. With Bairrada’s clean cut of chalky (chalk-filtered/sluiced) acidity, the finish is long and well-focused. Subtle, mid-weight and elegantly done, it’s a lovely new addition to the portfolio. Looking ahead, Dias told me they have bottled the 2017 vintage of Rexarte and will see how 2018 develops. Additionally, the couple have two other parcels that are also showing well and which they might be bottling separately in the future…. Exciting times at Vadio, whose wines are imported into the UK by Casa Leal and (see below) represent excellent value.
Vadio Baga 2015 (Bairrada)
I suspect not much Rexarte has been made and it has yet to be released. However, 2015 has worked its magic on Vadio’s entry level Baga too. Paler than Rexarte, it is lighter in hue and on the palate, with greater emphasis on red fruits. It reveals crunchy red cherry and pomegranate, crushed raspberry (which lends a gently ‘creamy’ feel) and juicier blackberry. Lovely fruit purity and terroir translucency, with chalky, flinty minerality and a lift of spice and pine resin in the tail. Showed very well over three days. The grapes were handpicked and crushed to the fermenters, where it fermented naturally. It was matured in French oak barrels and vats for 24 months, followed by 12 months in bottle before release. 12.5% A super smart buy at £11.40 at Portugal Vineyards, £12.95 at The Wine Society.