“In every genuine man, a child is hidden that wants to play”. Ain’t that the truth. Nietshke it seems, understood a part of our pscyche (genuine man, or woman that is), that clutched and thrashed for the playful in our stiff, structured and serious lives. Serious however is good, is it not? Hard work, risk, desire, sacrifice, appetite and ambition are all part of the serious business of life. It is how good things come into being. If we can somehow play a little…read poems, joke, body surf and watch the Ali G show, there is no reason why the serious shouldn’t be beautiful, delicious and delightful.
You can almost smell the ocean
Portuguese couple, Pato & Wouters, that is Filipa Pato and her husband William Wouters (Belgian to be sure), are crafting wines of such lyrical intensity that on the one hand, I want to guzzle and on the other, I want to think. Pure, intense, mineral and translucent, you can almost sense the cold winds of the Atlantic, indeed, the whites bear some resemblance to Muscadet, the wine that more than any other, defines the Atlantic. To be found in Bairrada and using varieties that hitherto I am largely unfamiliar with: Bical, Cerceal, Ferna Pires/Maria Gomes, Arinto and Baga.
The vineyards, as of 2020 are Demeter certified biodynamic and scattered throughout the region. They have begun planting indigenous trees and shrubs to increase biodiversity and protect the vines from their neighbours’ sprays and treatments. Winemaking is kept simple, like child’s play. Hand picked grapes are hand sorted, whole bunch pressed and transferred to stainless steel or cask for fermentation. Long and cool wild ferments, no new oak, and kept on lees. There is no batonage and the wine stabilises naturally over winter.
Pato & Wouters have been compared to Jean Foillard by their American importer; flattering yes, but I would have to disagree. Foillard’s wines display a roundness of flavour and shape with a powdery texture, which I believe is partly a result of fermentation in concrete. The wines of Pato & Wouters offer planes of flavour as Murray Tyrrell would put it. Pure, translucent, supple, lightly textured, mineral and intensely flavoured. Detailed and layered, the whites display an incredibly complex bouquet of flavours; encompassing fresh fruit, preserved fruit, herbs, flowers, minerals and a sort of seaweed/saline quality. The single red tasted, the Nossa Calcario Baga Tinto 2018, was focused and round, with incredible definition, concentration, complex florals and a dusting of herbs and spices. For all their seriousness, and these are incredibly serious wines, they have a lightness of touch that can only be described as playful.
A garden by the sea. Frothing marigold, jasmine, white cherry and melon. Pure and soft, with foaming bubbles, cream, apple, marjoram, slight texture and very subtle, fine, furry tannin. Beautiful wine as an aperitif or with a wide variety of seafood dishes.
Expressive white flowers, red apple, marjoram, cherry and peach. Round and expansive, it draws across the palate. Pure, supple and slightly textural with cream and nutty notes dusting the fruit. Packed with flavour and intense, but there’s a soft easy feel.
Expressive nose of lime, preserved lemon, oyster shell, peach and smoke. Terrific weight, a genuine step up in intensity, concentration and depth. Abundant acidity drives and frames the wine with saline and seaweed notes. Pure and with more cutting intensity. Very special wine.
Terrific nose, wild, exotic, coastal, classic. Very complex with bayleaf, a faggot of lavender, daphne and cherry. Hints of cassis, granite, smoke, wild herbs and mulberry. Clove and aniseed are threaded with fine and firm tannins that are at once authoritative and fine. Unique texture that reminds me of Rippon’s pinots. Detailed and layered there are so many facets to this wine. Remarkable stuff.