Bairrada, Baga & Sparkling Wine Tour

Before we came to Portugal we thought we knew a lot about various wines of the world. We were surprised when we learned that Portugal is home to hundreds of different grape varietals, most of which we had never heard of before. 

Not Only Port

For many people, when you mention Portuguese wine they just think of Port, one of the world’s most well-known fortified wines. However, did you know that Portugal also has world-class table wine and sparkling wine? We had the opportunity to try several during our tour with Bago D’uva 360 (https://www.bagoduva360.com) while on their Bairrada, Baga & Sparkling Wine Tour.

8:30 AM Start Time

Our day began at 8:30 AM with curbside pick-up at our hotel by our guide for the day, Beatriz. We then made our way out of Porto to the city of Aveiro, where we met the one other guest taking part in the tour. As we walked through Aveiro to our first food destination, Beatriz provided some history of particular landmarks and buildings, including the 15th century Cathedral of Aveiro. 

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Cathedral of Aveiro (background)
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
While some bridges in other countries and cities have padlocks signifying love, this bridge is covered with colorful ribbons.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Aveiro is about 70 km south of Porto.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
The streets of Aveiro were beautiful.

Ovos Moles – Sweet Treat

We then had the chance to sample a unique treat of Aveiro – Ovos Moles. These little gems were created centuries ago by a nun at the local Convent of Jesus who found a sneaky way of breaking her fast by mixing egg yolks and sugar together and hiding them in the dough left over from communion wafers. Little did she know that her creation would later become famous.

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Confeitaria Peixinho in Aveiro
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
The center of the confection looks like a bright orange yolk in a hard boiled egg.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Apparently, Beatriz was curious if Peter was going to like the ovos moles.

Alianca Sparkling Wine

After our sweet treat we hopped back in the van and made our way to the most interesting winery we have ever been to. Alianca not only produces some terrific sparkling wines made primarily with the Baga grape, but is also home to an underground museum!

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Hello, my bubbly little friend.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
We had no idea what we were about to experience!
Underground Museum

José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, the largest shareholder of Alianca Wines, has contributed some of his life’s art collection to create an absolutely stunning exhibit within the property’s underground tunnels. Our wine tasting was followed by a private tour of Mr. Berardo’s personal collection.

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Only 5% of the Collection

We walked at least a kilometer and a half to complete the tour, and this exhibit is said to only be 5% of his total collection! The whole experience was unreal and felt very intimate and special.

If you are not part of an organized tour, you will have to book ahead if you want to see this amazing winery and museum.

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Our Alianca guide, Laura, is able to provide tours in 4 languages.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Most of the minerals are from Brazil.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Quite the Range

The museum includes African ethnographic art, contemporary sculpture from Zimbabwe, a mineral collection, the largest tin collection in Portugal, a fossil collection, ceramic tiles from Portugal and France, and more!

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Some of these fossils are 150 million years old.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Peter's favorite display was the ceramic tiles, some of which are from the 18th century.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
The brandy cellar is the deepest point of the tunnels at 20 meters below ground.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
These bottles of sparkline wine (which are aging in the tunnels) are rotated 1/4 turn per day. Once the lees are settled they are removed in a process called disgorging.

Lunch Time

Mealhada = Sucking Pig Central

After all that walking it was time for some lunch. We were in for a treat because we were heading to Mealhada, a town known for suckling pig. And the drink of choice with suckling pig? Local sparkling wine, of course!

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com

Luis Pato – The Rebel

No visit to this area of Portugal would be complete without a stop at one of the most influential wineries in Bairrada – Luis Pato Winery. Steeped in wine history (the family has produced wine since the 18th century), Luis Pato Winery is known for its exclusive use of Portuguese grape varieties, as well as innovative practices and techniques.

Bairrada is one of Portugal’s designated wine regions (Denominação de Origem Controlada). Baga is the primary red grape variety in the region, making up around 75 percent of red wine plantings.

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Maria, our guide at Luis Pato, was knowledgeable and fun.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
We tried convincing them to pop this one open, but were unsuccessful! This was Luis Pato's first vintage.
Innovative Methods

Luis Pato himself, known to be a bit of a rebel, was the first to introduce the method of doing two harvests in one season. This enabled him to use grapes from the same vines to make a sparkling wine with the first harvest and red table wine with the second. This method is particularly beneficial with Baga grapes to mellow their robust tannins. He is also currently testing the use of hyperoxidation to limit the need for sulphates in the production of his wines.

Some Luis Pato white wines are aged in Portuguese chestnut barrels.

Following a tour of the facility we sat down for an extensive tasting, including sparkling, white and red wines. Each wine was vastly different from the other and had terrific complexity. 

Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Decanting a 2000 Quinta do Moinho.
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Saude!
Aveiro & Bairrada Sparkling Wine Tour - RTWreset.com
Pato means "duck" in Portuguese, hence the ducks on the labels...and the duck head that we couldn't resist...especially after such a thorough tasting!

Home at 7:00 PM

We arrived to our hotel back in Porto around 7:00 PM. It was a nasty rainy day, but we still had an amazing time. We not only had some amazing food and wines, but we also had the chance to visit some exclusive places that we would have missed without the help from our guide and Bago D’uva tours. 

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