Baga grape – all controversy


The red wine we tried on Friday is made from the challenging Baga grape by a controversial wine-maker’s daughter.

The grape’s challenging because, traditionally, its dominant tannins made it unpalatably raw when young whilst softening to a fruitless taste when drinkable. Lovely. This meant the grape was used less as Portugal, and the Dao and Bairrada in particular, searched for larger markets for their table wines. Its decline was arrested, in Bairrada, by anti-authoritian Luis Pato, whose daughter Filipa makes Nossa Calceiro Tinto 2011, my blind challenge. The Bairrada is west of the Dao region, south of Porto and subject to a lot of Atlantic damp which can create mould on the thin-skinned berries. As the name implies, it thrives in limestone soils.

Purple-rimmed and black in colour this was a wine smelling of vanilla, coconut, wood and a gentle hint of blackberry. The legs promised much weight. The palate was attractively fruity; tannins were present but nicely so, the mid-palate being pleasantly fruit-sweet. Fortunately, it dried on the finish which made it rather-moreish and a pleasant, but not a particularly complex, drink.

I had no idea, by the way, of the variety or region when challenged, as Richard is wont to do. The best I could muster was a fruity Grenache from the south of France.

[Richard: from the WS, at a rather ambitious £25, not least because, as Geoff indicates, there’s not much complexity. I’m reminded of Samuel Johnson’s (or Mark Twain’s) statement – ‘worth seeing but not worth going to see’, translated into wine tasting. I served it slightly chilled but not decanted. It came with a wax top for no obvious reason as I couldn’t see it would benefit from further ageing.]



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