Bairrada: Portugal’s best terroir?

The view from Luis Pato's back door

The view from Luis Pato’s back door

So said Dirk Niepoort when I caught up with him earlier this year at Quinta de Baixo, which Niepoort purchased in 2012 (my review of Baixo’s thrilling first release here).

I needed little convincing of the region’s ability to produce Portugal’s most exciting single varietal red from the Baga grape. When this infamously tricky variety is treated with the utmost care and respect, it flourishes.

Select producers, especially the members of Baga Friends, show what can be done when yields are low and the site is right. An excitingly diverse range of expressions – old school and new – is emerging. A topic which I explored in depth earlier this year for The World of Fine Wine magazine, who have very kindly permitted me to share the feature with you here: WFW40 Bairrada The Baga Beyond

Mario Sergio: old Baga vines at Quinta das Bageiras

Mario Sergio: old Baga vines at Quinta das Bageiras

In the last few years, I’ve also come to appreciate Bairrada’s equally brilliant white and (artisanal) sparkling wines. I’m fervently hoping that, following Baga Friend’s London trade tasting in January, Quinta das Bageiras’ benchmark examples will find their way to the UK. Filipa and Luis Pato represent the new school whites and sparkling wines of the region. It would be great to see Bageiras’ classic expressions (and Baga) here too.

But it’s only this year that I’ve really come to learn just how well Bairrada’s terroir suits Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Perhaps it should come as no surprise given the region’s Bordeaux-esque maritime location or its Burgundy-esque rolling landscape of chalky clay soils. My Bairrada feature in Decanter’s January edition (out now) explores the connection further.

Super-selection at Colinas Sao Lourenco

Super-selection at Colinas Sao Lourenco

And true, Alianca and Campolargo have been making impressive Cabernet blends, the latter a solid Pinot Noir too. However the revelation came courtesy of Colinas São Lourenço who, under Ideal Drink’s no expense spared ownership (chief winemaker is Carlos Lucas, who consults with Pascal Chatonnet), are making outstanding Cabernets and Pinot Noirs (a rosé and sparkling wine).

Its flagship Cabernet, Principal Tinto Grande Reserva 2009, has just been ranked on par with Petrus 2010 by Spirito diVino magazine. Both wines were elected into the top 10 of its world’s best 100 reds with a score of 98.1. I can confirm that it’s very good indeed – my notes to follow, together with a review of Ideal Drinks’ portfolio.

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