Authentic wines without make-up: Filipa Pato

Time to talk vineyard 🙂 finally getting to my part of the deal 😉 (She got her beach time). As I mentioned before, Barraida has another thing it is famous for (not as famous yet as they should be, but they’re getting there) and that’s for their wines… Baga wines to be more precise. Just like for tourism Portugal is often forgotten as a wine country (besides may be for its Porto and Mateus wine) sad enough… but thanks to my blogpost this will change 🙂 🙂

My love for Portuguese wines and interest to travel Portgual all started with the Filipa Pato wines (and William Wouters). NO, I’m not saying this to suck up, it’s just a fact!! I’m sure you all also read my old blogpost about my diner with Filipa Pato wines? I’m not sure when I first tried Filipa’s wines, but of 1 thing I’m sure and that is that I tried at the Pazzo winebar.

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FYI it must also be said that if it weren’t for Filipa and William (her husband) our Portugal trip would have had worse food 😉

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What I admire about Filipa Pato aka daughter of legendary Portugese winemarker Luis Pato (I’ll talk more about him in a next blogpost)is that even though she could have easily just joined her father’s wine estate, she chose to first go and find her own way (with obviously from time to time some valuable advice from her father)… which after around 13 years results in that people are not referring to Filipa as “daughter from”, but to Luis as “father from” 🙂 :-). As you can find her wines from Belgium, to Brazil, to Japan and to god knows where… (here a list of the global distributors 🙂 )

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Making wine runs through Filipa’s veins , wine making in the Pato family already goes back for 5 generations (both at her mother’s side as her father’s side) which I think gave Filipa a solid background to build upon. A background she gets reminded of every day as her vineyard is right next to her father’s vineyard and grandmother’s house (a feisty 90 years old lady). A golden rule Filipa takes into account is respecting her Portuguese heritage. She does this by only using autochthon Portuguese/Barraida grapes with the goal making quality products (wine without make-up) showing the world Portugal’s greatness and know-how. A very important influencing factor was Filipa’s marriage to my dear friend Belgian top sommelier William Wouters (that’s right, from restaurant Pazzo). To say it in her own words “He introduced me to many different wines from regions I only knew from the books. He helped me opening up my horizons again to more wine and gastronomy.” But this influence works in both ways as I think William learned more about winemaking itself… he added the practical knowledge to the theoretic knowledge. Not only did this marriage lead to 2 adorable children, it also resulted in some great wines like Nossa :-).

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The Barraida wine region is mostly known for its deep colored tannic full flavoured red wines (FYI they also make some nasty (positive sense of the word) white wines 🙂 ) that has got the highest wine labelling in Portugal aka DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada) which means these wines can only be produced in this area/region. The wines in this region get mostly made with one (or a mix of) the following grape varieties: Baga, Borrado das Moscas, Castelao Frances, Fernao Pires, Rabo de Ovelha and Tinta Pinheira. With for me Baga as one of my favourites. A great added value to the region is the Barraida viticultural museum . Here you’ll learn all about the wine region’s history and winemaking and also find a huuuuuge collection of corkscrews. A very interesting museum that is worth a visit.

Vineyard map by Filipa Pato

The baga grape is also the red wire through the Filipa Pato wines. Besides the Nossa, the aim of Filipa is to make wine to drink and without make-up. With this I mean wine that you can immediately drink when buying the bottle and that doesn’t have to age to be at its best. For the Nossa this is a different story which is the vineyard’s TOP wine and is best to drink after aging a few more years. (I’m still trying not to open my Nossa’s I have at home, not easy). The fun part about making wine is the fact that besides making your ‘principal’ selection of wine, you also get to experiment trying to find a new wine. Choosing to either use old casks, new casks, Eastern Europe oak, Canadian oak, French oak, which grapes variety mixes, etc… an endless choice of varieties to be tested. For Filipa the last experiment lead to the creation of Espírito de Baga . Well Filipa, all the hard work was definitely worth it as it is a very nice and elegant wine and as I discovered a very good match with the roasted chicken we had and I talked to you about in my previous blogpost. And if she gets bored of making regular wines, she still has a line of Espumante that she can “play” with. I was surprised to see that in this region all wine estates have a very wide range of products, some white wine, red wine, espumante and sometimes also a sweeter wine… this way everybody will find something of his liking.

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I’d better stop talking as I getting carried away again by my enthusiasm. The last thing I’ll add is my curiosity for all the future wines Filipa and William will be making now that William decided to dedicate 100% ( of 99%) to winemaking and his family… but I’m sure it’ll be great. You guys rock my world!!

FIlipa & William by lopinion.fr

In case you guys also want to try Filipa Pato’s wines, check the list of distributors all over the world that will be able to tell you where you can find their wines. OOOOR if you are ever in Belgium you can always stop at the Pazzo winebar or restaurant where you’ll be able to taste all the Filipa Pato wines 🙂

Roadtripping through Portugal: Curia

What I find a pity is when people decide to travel to Portugal they just stick to either the Algarve region or Lisbon, but Portugal is so much more than only those 2 and that are as beautiful if not more beautiful. A good example of this would be Beira region aka know as the centre of Portugal which is half way between Lisbon and Porto. In and around this region you’ll be finding cities like Coimbra, Curia, Aveiro, etc…and this region is also known for its SPA’s 🙂 just FYI

Map by wanderingsportugal.com

If you would ever be traveling to Portugal and want to stay in special hotels, you might want to consider the hotels of Alexander de Almeida’s group which are all historical hotels that were renovated just like they were when they opened. I can say for a fact that they one by one very spectacular. During our 5 day stay in the Curia area in the enormous Curia Palace a Bell époque hotel that first opened its doors in 1926 (created by Alexandre de Almeida, the current owner’s grandfather) and had Portugal’s first outdoor Olympic swimming pool (I gave it a test drive 😉 ). I know I’ll be repeating these words a lot during all my posts, but this was one of the beautiful hotels I have ever seen!! You feel like dressing up like in the 1920’s… everything is exactly how it was when the hotel first opened its doors (but with of course a few modern aspects like mini bars in the room)… just wonderful (obviously if you only like trendy modern hotels, this won’t be your piece of cake).

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Curia Palace lobby 1926 and now

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The deal between me and my fiancee is always that I get my vineyards if she gets her beach time… so a promise is a promise…ok not that I don’t like going to the beach, but I wouldn’t be able to stay still and lay on the beach 14days in a row. The part I love about sitting at the beach is staring at the sea which always seems so endless!! When it comes to beaches Portugal has a very big choice of beaches, so just like for restaurants, hotels, etc… I ask advice to somebody who knows the area very well (thanks Filipa!!) and the beautiful beach we were advised to go was Costa Nova , a small town just outside of Aveiro. Wide/large spread beaches where even when it is busy it feels like there is nobody on the beach. That is the kind of beach I like and is exactly what Costa Nova’s beach is like. Costa nova is a small beach town filled with very colorful houses with from most parts of town a water view.

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As if faith wanted it, there also happened to be a very nice fish restaurant called Dori right above the local Costa Nova fish market (the deal was regarding vineyards, there was nothing said about restaurants 😉 ). Simple fish dishes, but again the simplicity makes it so njammy (we went back 2 times, so I guess we liked it) and a very nice price…

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If one would have told me I would be eating the best chicken I have ever eaten in a local Curia restaurant, I would have told him/ her they were crazy… but I got proven otherwise. Our friend Filipa took us to restaurante Pompeu dos Frangos to taste this famous chicken. WOW, really WOW… not sure how they did it (I’m sure it is the type of seasoning), but that was one tasty chicken :-). I was also told that this restaurant used to be a stop for the postal office/ stop to sleep and eat form back in the days when everybody was still riding horse and carriage (so also the horses got to eat and sleep here)… so kid of an old school highway gas station. The restaurant also tried to keep as many original elements as possible.

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The bigger city that is worth visiting while you are in the area is University city Coimbra (take good shoes, as you have to climb a bit to get to the university). With an obligated visit to the university’s old library and you get the marvellous view over the city as a bonus

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For the non vegetarians (or better the meat lover) when you are in the Curia area you must try the Leitao or Barraida style roasted pork. The best place to do this, is at the king of Leitao aka restaurant Mugasa. The pig they prepare here is every chef’s dream, so you won’t be surprised if I tell you lots of Michelin starred chefs from all over the world came to Mugasa for their Leitoa. Again here simplicity is the rule… but that’s what we like right?

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The main reason to visit Barraida are their Baga wines. But more about that in my next blogpost!!