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Campolargo, Bairrada TintoBairrada, Portugal 2016 (750mL)

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Campolargo, Bairrada Tinto Bairrada, Portugal 2016 (750mL)

Fruit
Earth
Body
Tannin
Acid
Alcohol

It seems like a disproportionate amount of our bandwidth has been devoted to Portuguese wines lately, and for good reason: There’s a flood of great wine, at great prices, coming out of Portugal right now. The ethereal beauty and earthy soul of Campolargo’s Baga comes from the winning combination of mellow, just-ripe fruit, savory minerality, and high-toned rose petal perfume, on top of beautiful structure and a wave of salty acidity. In other words, for all the Nebbiolo lovers out there, today’s delicious wine is like Portugal’s answer to Barbaresco or Barolo. 


This delicious Baga is brought to you by a staunch natural wine purist who draws inspiration from the classics of the world to create un-manipulated, uncompromised wines that speak profoundly of Bairrada’s incredible terroir. There has been a lot of hype around Baga, Bairrada’s signature variety, in recent years, but many producers don’t quite get it right. Baga needs to be tamed, as it has a pretty fierce personality when left to its own devices. Winemakers who let it overproduce or over-ripen—or who don’t let it mellow long enough in bottle before release—will end up with an out-of-control, bitterly tannic monster. But when it’s on, and from the first sip it’s clear that Campolargo has cracked the code, it is as powerfully structured and aromatically intriguing as red wine gets. This is a Baga that more than lives up to its promise, and I can’t wait to pull the cork on another bottle. I’ve been following Portuguese wine since I first got started in the industry, and there’s never been a better time than now to get acquainted with it.



The damp, cool northern Portuguese DOC of Bairrada began its heyday in Roman times, enjoying ongoing prosperity until the mid-1750s, when the region’s vines got themselves tangled up in a scandal with the Port industry. It was a rollercoaster for Bairrada from there on out; the vineyards were uprooted, later replanted, then devastated by phylloxera, before António de Oliveira Salazar stepped in as prime minister and converted all of Portugal’s private vineyards to high-output, low-quality cooperatives. In the late 1970s, once Portugal had slipped out from under Salazar’s 40-year rule, the country could finally begin the long, slow climb back to its former glory, with the Baga grape as Bairrada’s MVP. The one problem? Almost no one really knew how to handle the variety anymore. Enter the Campolargo family. 


Part of the modern Baga renaissance, brothers and third-generation vintners Carlos and Jorge Campolargo took over their father’s bulk wine operation in 2000. Carlos, who handles the winemaking, is a highly opinionated, mad genius sort who plays by his own rules, which include parcel-by-parcel green harvesting, natural winemaking, low alcohol, restrained extraction, slow aging in large French oak (the best barrels he can find), and ample time in bottle prior to release. Everything about these wines is so pure, so genuine, and so expressive of each individual site. Carlos doesn’t make the same wines every year—he only produces what feels right for the vintage. Today’s wine, however, is one of the two in the Campolargo lineup that could be considered a “staple”—Carlos has been making it, albeit intermittently, for many years, without significantly altering its essence. The fruit is destemmed and fermented in vats, followed by aging in neutral oak barrels. 


If you want to do this gorgeous wine justice, you have two options: let it age for a while longer (for reference, the 2013 is drinking impeccably these days), or give it a nice long decant followed by an enthusiastic swirl in a large Burgundy stem. Baga really shows its best when its rustic tannins have had time to mellow, and a bit of aeration will bring out the haunting beauty in today’s wine. If you love the powerful structure and savory character of a great Barolo, you’re going to adore this Baga, especially considering the price. Medium in body, it’s so fragrant, with a really appealing richness that’s balanced by a briny saline character. The mellow, dark plummy fruit, which is lively but not overtly ripe, is scented with rose petal, tart wild berries, fennel, spice, forest floor, damp tree bark, and wild underbrush, underlined by an attractive green herbal/vegetal character. Firm tannins and pronounced acidity carry today’s wine from start to finish. Serve it between 60 and 65 degrees, paired with a hearty meal—Baga begs for rich, fatty, spiced meat dishes like braised pork in a garlicky pimentón-spiked broth; throw in some mussels or clams to complement the wine’s mouthwatering Atlantic salinity. 




Campolargo, Bairrada Tinto Bairrada, Portugal 2016 - SommSelect

  • CountryPortugal
  • RegionBairrada
  • SoilClay-Limestone
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendBaga
  • Alcohol12.5%
  • OakNeutral Barrels

  • CountryPortugal
  • RegionBairrada
  • SoilClay-Limestone
  • FarmingOrganic
  • BlendBaga
  • Alcohol12.5%
  • OakNeutral Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareLarge Burgundy Stems
  • DrinkingNow-2025
  • Decanting30 Minutes
  • PairingPortuguese Braised Pork & Clams