Luis Pato

Before I continue talking about the rest of our Portugal trip I do want to say a few words about Luis PatoLuis Pato is the 4th generation of wine making  Pato family, who took over the family business from his father around the 1980’s. Luis Pato is a true legend in Portugal as he has had a very big impact  on Barraida wines (or Beiras wines as he prefers calling them) or maybe even wines from all over  Portugal… I think an addition of the words modernizer and innovator might be at its place here, as that is what he was/is for Portuguese wines. One of the biggest breaks with tradition was the changing from chestnut barrels to French oak and the usage of modern techniques like working with stainless steel vats. This innovation is a big step forward to be able to control the temperatures at which you want to do the fermentation and therefore also have a better control of the quality of your finished-product.

The words you are looking for are “cool” or “Wow, I didn’t know that “ 🙂 no just kidding, I know this might seem like a minor change, but I can guaranty you it wasn’t! I love talking to people  like Luis Pato who have passion for what they do!  The signs of knowing if people are doing their job with passion is for example the sparkle in their eyes when they are talking about it and when they are able to transmit this sparkle to you.. Also their drive on always wanting to make something new, to learn and experiment and trying to do “better” than the last time…

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FYI the reason Luis is holding a duck, is because Pato means duck in Portuguese 🙂

At one side Luis broke with tradition by using new ‘more modern’ ways of making wine, but on the other hand he did embrace the “tradition” of only using only local and sometimes even forgotten grape varieties. A big surprise at that time was Luis putting a big focus on the “Baga” grape that until than had a reputation of producing harsh red wines that are not drinkable at young age and therefore need to age to mellow and lighten their flavors. This was before our dear friend Luis came along (for some reason I hearing the Superman tune in my head right now 😉 ). Luis Pato showed everybody Baga deserved more respect! I FYI Baga has similarities with the Italian Nebbiolo grape, and it can even approach the elegance of riper Pinot Noir vintages. To make long story shorter, it all went well and now thanks to Luis Pato (who influenced lots of winemakers on  to also start doing this, now known as Baga friends) Baga wines are now know over the whole world and finally gets the recognition it always deserved! I had one sip of the 2001 Vinhas Velhas and was sold 🙂 (all the wines that followed just confirmed my first thought and feeling)








What I think is the biggest reward for somebody like Luis, is the recognition and the fact that winemakers from other regions in Portugal started to ask Luis’ help on improving their wine making and in that way also contributing in showing the world that Portugal is not just that country right next to Spain! Something I do hope to be part of one day is to one of Luis Pato’s famous signature lunches, where famous national and international chefs try to find the perfect dishes to serve with the Pato wines… 😉


Luis Pato’s future  is also being covert, as not only Filipa, but also his other 2 daughters Luisa (who is also doing a very good job in making very nice olive oil) and Maria João help a hand in the wine making. And who knows maybe Fernao or Kiko (Filipa’s children)will be covering the 6th generation  and get bitten by the same wine loving bugs as his all their ancestors… I do hope so! Luis did already make a wine to celebrate the birth of his grandson Ferñao 🙂


Find the whole Luis Pato wine assortment of wines on the following link

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 😉


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 🙂 )


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!!

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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

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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!!

Roadtripping though Portugal

It that time of year again… everybody starts packing their bags and starts traveling. My fiancée and I prefer traveling outside of the busy travel periods July and August which usually results in us coming back when others are ready for leaving. This year it finally seemed like the perfect time to travel to Portugal, a trip I’ve already wanted to make for years… what pulled the trigger to travel to Portugal was my fiancee’s enthusiasm after her surf trip last year to Portugal (her blogpost). Portugal is a destination that gets underestimated, most people travel to Spain but for some reason never seem to make it across the Portuguese border… so with all my coming blogposts I’ll try to convince all those people to travel those few extra miles as it is really worth it!!

The thing that I feared the most was the language barrier, I speak Italian, French, Spanish and I do understand a bit of Portuguese… but talking it is a different story. So I was very curious on how the Portuguese people’s language skills would be?! A very big surprise I must say!!! That some would speak English I expected, but the amount of people speaking a very good level of French was definitely unexpected for me… also to see that most movies or tv-series weren’t dubbed, but subtitled (big step ahead in comparison to Spain or Italy and even France) . So I was very convinced that Portugal would have many more surprises for us during this trip…

One thing I was sure of when I started planning our Portugal trip (around December/January) is that I wanted to see the ‘real’ Portugal and not only the Algarve beaches (how beautiful they might be). A good combination of city tripping and time at the beach was the ideal scenario… I think I managed it well (or at least I didn’t hear my fiancée complain 😉 ). We started our trip in Lisboa, continued towards Curia where besides visiting the vineyard from friends we were able to have some beach time (Costa Nova) and we stayed at one most beautiful hotels ever!! We continued  to Portugal’s “Bordeaux” region, aka the Douro valley which is one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen!!! (Visiting vineyards was just mandatory… no choice) We eventually finished our trip in Porto which was much bigger than I had imagined it to be… and how else by visiting a Porto winemaker (some things you just can’t get around…)

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Please stay tuned for my stories about how Portugal got a special place in my heart and became one of my favorite countries to travel to..