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Luis Pato, “Vinha Barrio”Beiras, Portugal 2001 (750mL)

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Luis Pato, “Vinha Barrio” Beiras, Portugal 2001 (750mL)

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Today’s highly limited offering is a mandatory take-home assignment for those keen on experiencing an ancient-vine, decades-old red from one of the most influential icons in wine. The specific subject matter is Luis Pato—a legendary custodian/champion/revivalist of Portugal’s Baga grape—and his impossibly affordable 2001 “Vinha Barrio.” After nearly 20 years of rest in the cold dark, this cuvée, priced at a mere $49, has evolved into a hauntingly savory take on Baga that reads like a rustic fusion of old-school Barolo and Bordeaux. 


That said, the sensory experience it provides is not for the faint of heart: barnyard, leather saddle, dusty herb, and smoked meat aromas are plentiful, making this a match made in heaven for those who demand secondary and tertiary flavors in their wine. If that’s you, I strongly advise a sense of urgency because following the harvest of today’s 2001, every gnarled 80+-year-old vine from Pato’s “Barrio” vineyard had to be replaced since yields had become virtually negligible. So, allow me to rephrase what I said above: Luis Pato is a globally respected wine legend; this is the final vintage that utilized the profundity of his old-vine Baga; and today’s epic library release value is required homework for in-the-know wine aficionados. Up to six bottles per person.



If today’s wine hailed from somewhere in France or Italy, it’d be gobbled up eagerly by collectors—at a much higher price—because Portugal’s reputation beyond Port still largely exists behind the curtains. The quality and talent, however, is there in spades. Like us, Jancis Robinson is a stalwart proponent of non-fortified Portuguese gems and she never hesitates to highlight one of her favorite regions: “For sheer, unadulterated local character, the northern wine region of Bairrada cannot be beat.” She goes on to say, “No one could be a more vigorous protagonist...than impish veteran winemaker Luis Pato.” An against-the-grain winemaker, he was the first to produce wines under the Bairrada designation in 1980, but that didn’t stop him from abandoning the appellation in 1999, largely due to his outspoken frustrations with updated wine legislation and the simple fact that he refused to conform—similar to Gianfranco Soldera’s cult wines in Tuscany. Today, the majority of his wines still carry the broader “Vinho Regional Beiras” designation. 


The Patos now control an impressive number of holdings throughout the region with vineyards that are only planted to indigenous grapes—Luis ripped up international varieties like Cabernet and Merlot long ago. Soils are mostly chalky clay and limestone with pockets of sand, while the climate is Atlantic-influenced and fairly mild. Today’s grapes come from the Barrio vineyard, which was replanted following the 2001 vintage due to extremely low yields. After being harvested by hand, the grapes were de-stemmed and fermentation occurred in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks before maturation in mostly used French oak barrels. This is not a wine that has seen a wide release: Pato is very “experimental” and holds onto significant stocks of all his releases to see how they evolve. As you can see, he held back today’s 2001 for quite some time!


A note before opening this wine: Please have an ah-so or Durand opener at the ready! These wines are under their original corks, which are fairly dry at this stage, so extracting them with a proper tool is crucial! Once it has been gently removed, pour slowly into Bordeaux stems and allow the wine to open up for 5-10 minutes in your glass. There’s a reason Baga is referred to as “the Nebbiolo of Bairrada” and that Luis Pato has enjoyed a long reign as Portugal’s finest winemaker, so I suggest tracking your wine over several hours! It quietly opens up in the glass with aromas of barnyard, redcurrant, dried cherry, cured meat, smoke, licorice, roasted coffee, tobacco leaf, dried sage, dried rose petal, wet clay, and exotic spice. The palate is structured, rustic, and unapologetically savory (again, this will not appeal to those who stick to clean, juicy fruit-forward wines!) with crushed minerals and dried berries lining the sinewy finish. There are no cosmetics at play here: This is mature Baga in all its natural glory, and at $49, we’re here for it! Enjoy now and over the next 3-5 years.




Luis Pato, “Vinha Barrio” Beiras, Portugal 2001 - SommSelect

  • CountryPortugal
  • RegionBeiras
  • SoilChalky Clay & Limestone w/ Sand
  • BlendBaga
  • Alcohol13%
  • OakUsed French Barrels

  • CountryPortugal
  • RegionBeiras
  • SoilChalky Clay & Limestone w/ Sand
  • BlendBaga
  • Alcohol13%
  • OakUsed French Barrels
  • Temp.Serve at 60-65° F
  • GlasswareBordeaux Stem
  • DrinkingNow-2026
  • DecantingOptional
  • PairingCrown Roast of Pork w/ Mushroom Dressing