Transmission: an exciting new wine project in Portugal’s Bairrada wine region

Transmission is an exciting new wine project from Bairrada. It’s a partnership between TAP pilot and wine lover Vitor Bento and Niepoort/Quinta do Baixo winemaker Miguel Silva, and began with the 2019 vintage. I tasted through these wines with the pair at lunch at the amazing Gaveto in Porto. Winemaking is low-fi with an emphasis on picking at the right time to get terroir expression (usually early) and a careful elevage avoiding the imprint of new small oak. Labels are by artist Fernando Gaspar.

Miguel Silva Sparkling Bairrada NV Portugal
This is from a solera-style base wine that includes vintages from 2015 to 2019 inclusive, and was bottled in December 2019 and disgorged in January 2024. It’s 80% Baga, and half was fermented and aged in stainless steel, half in barrel. Very fine and fresh with subtle apple and pear fruit, showing lovely weight. Fine, expressive fruit-driven palate with apple and citrus, as well as appealing waxy notes. One of the finest sparkling wines I’ve had from Portugal. 93/100

Upside Down Branco 2021 Bairrada, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. This was destined to be part of Transmission Branco, but developed some flor (it spent 18 months under this yeast layer) and so was bottled separately, without any sulfite additions. pH 2.95. 60% Sercial, 40% old vine field blend, limestone soils. Tangy, linear and stylish with fine apple and pear fruit. Linear with some stony minerality, with good acidity. Really mineral with great depth and finesse. 94/100

Transmission Branco 2019 Bairrada, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. From Jurassic limestone. Debut vintage. Stony, mineral nose with lemons and wax, as well as some citrus pith character. Powerful palate with amazing mineral extract, and a pine resin note in the background as well as some waxiness. Lovely acidity under the dense fruit, and shows finesse and precision, and is developing well. 96/100

Transmission Branco 2020 Bairrada, Portugal
13.5% alcohol. Aged in both barrels and concrete. Lovely aromatics: stony and mineral with lime pith and lemon. The palate has some ripe citrus with a touch of apple and pear. Nice weight and depth. This is textural and fine with precision but also some approachability. Stony and bright; harmonious and balanced. 96/100

Transmission Branco 2022 (cask sample)
Powerful, fine and linear with some richness to the chiselled citrus fruit. Stony, bright and vivid with real precision. This will be quite special with time. 95/100

Miguel Silva Baga 2021 Bairrada, Portugal
12.5% alcohol. This is from a single vineyard that’s over 100 years old. Grey and blue limestone with some clay. Baga, mainly, with 1-2% white varieties and 1-2% other reds. Fermented in lagar with 40% whole bunch and the rest destemmed, but with the stems added back in. Malolactic in barrel where the wine aged 18 months. Fresh, taut and linear with lovely focused fruit. Such drinkability with fine stony, grainy notes adding tension. Real finesse. 94/100

Transmission Tinto 2022 Bairrada, Portugal (cask sample)
This is from the same vineyard as the Miguel Silva Baga, and two barrels were made. Complex and vivid with nice depth, firm tannins supporting the ripe fruit, and notes of cherries and plums. Lovely combination of weight, fleshy fruit and firm tannins. Has intensity but also finesse and is quite remarkable. 97/100