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The wines of Filipa Pato, Beiras, Portugal

Quinta do Ribeirinho, 3780-016 A. de Gandara, Portugal
Tel: +351 231 59 64 32 Fax: +351 231 59 68 42
E-mail: fpato@yahoo.com

Filipa Pato is one of the bright young talents of Portuguese winemaking. 33 years old, she’s short, attractive, and a little crazy, but in a nice sort of way. She also has a famous father, Luis Pato, widely acknowledged to be the leading producer in the Bairrada region. When I arrived at Quinta do Riberinho on a warm July day to meet with them both, I was also introduced to her partner, William Wouters (a restaurateur from Antwerp in Belgium who Filipa describes as ‘crazy about wine’). As I got them to pose together for a series of photographs I joked that it was a bit like being at a wedding. This prompted a burst of laughter, because in 10 days time they were due to be married there at the Quinta. The next time I met Filipa, In November 2008, she had a big bump: she was expecting a baby, ‘Francisco the new duck’, due in January 2009.

Like her father, Filipa studied chemical engineering. After finishing her chemistry degree at Coimbra University in 1999, she decided to expand her horizons and travel the world. First, she did harvest at Château Cantenac Brown in Bordeaux, and followed this experience up by spending a year working at Finca Flichman in Argentina. Next up was Australia where she worked at Leeuwin Estate in the Margaret River. ‘It was interesting to see how the new world was doing on both the Latin and Anglo-Saxon sides’, she says. Arriving back in Portugal in 2001, Filipa decided to make wines in Beiras. At this stage, the easy choice might have been to join the family winery, with a view to succeeding her father when he chose to retire. But she didn’t, and without vineyards of her own, she set about establishing her own brand, making wines from rented vineyards in both Bairrada and the neighbouring Dão region.

William, Filipa and Luis

We are both strong and difficult characters’, she reveals candidly, talking of her relationship with her father, ‘and this is one of the reasons we prefer to work separately, to avoid conflicts.’ She’s also fortunate in that good vineyard land in Bairrada and Dão, the two regions she works in, is relatively inexpensive to rent. ‘I frequently compare Burgundy to Bairrada because of the similarities in soil, the difficult red grapes (Baga and Pinot Noir), and the small vineyard parcels’, says Filipa. ‘In Burgundy children work with parents and it's very expensive to rent or buy vineyards; in Bairrada I'm lucky enough that I can start my own way.’

From rented vineyards she makes Lokal Silex (from Dão) and Lokal Calcário (from Bairrada), and Ensaios (a Dão/Douro blend). With strikingly modern labels, the Lokal wines are made in slightly more fruit-forward style than her father’s, combining richness and concentration with smooth structural elements and minerality. The names refer to the differences in soils between the Dão and Bairrada regions: because she makes both at the winery in Bairrada, she can’t label the Silex as Dão, and this is her way of making the distinction.

Filipa has also started making wines with her husband William ‘for the craziness’. Their company is named ‘Vinhos Doidos’ (which translates as ‘crazy wines’). ‘We started last year with two wines’, she reveals. ‘Bossa is a party white, and Nossa is a complex wine with our two favourite white grapes, Bical and Encruzado. Making wine was always fun for me, and for William it is fun to sell it.’

The one wine Filipa and Luis make together is the quirky FLP, which is labelled ‘Molecular Wine’. It’s a sweet wine produced by freezing the must before taking off a proportion to ferment in used casks. ‘Cryoextraction is a technique I was interested to develop to make a dessert wine, keeping the identity of the flavours, with low alcohol’, explains Filipa. Luis shows me the special tank he has designed for this cryoextraction; it’s a technique he has also been using on some of his other whites, too.

Filipa Pato FP Ensaios Arinto Bical 2007 Beiras
Very fresh, lemony and bright with lovely density and vivid, pure, bright fresh fruit. Focused and citrussy with lovely freshness. 90/100 (07/08)

Filipa Pato FP Ensaios Arinto Bical 2006 Beiras
Savoury, waxy, herby nose is quite tight. The palate is savoury and minerally with a smoky reductive edge to it and good acidity. Fresh, with a lovely mineral character. 89/100 (12/07)

Nossa 2007 Beiras
Made by William Wauters and Filipa Pato, this is a blend of Encruzado from Dão and Bical from Bairrada. Cooled juice, fermented for a long time in cask. This is smoothly textured with lovely richness of fruit. It’s structured and pure with some nutty notes and a long, subtly spicy finish. Really impressive. 90/100 (07/08)

Filipa Pato Lokal Silex 2005 Beiras
From a vineyard in Dão close to the Serra d’Estrela. Beautifully pure aromatic nose with dark cherry and blackberry fruit. Dense, vivid and spicy with great concentration. 92/100 (07/08)

Filipa Pato Lokal Silex 2005 Beiras
This is from the Dão region, but because the grapes are moved out of the region for winemaking the wine is labelled under the umbrella appellation Beiras. Very deep coloured. Fresh, vivid nose of ripe dark fruits. Blackcurranty and a bit jammy. The palate shows bold, smooth fruit with lots of intensity and chocolate and earth notes. Dense and chunky, and really appealing. 91/100 (02/07)

Filipa Pato Lokal Silex 2006 Beiras
Fresh dark cherry fruit nose with some spiciness. Pure and brooding. The palate is quite dense and spicy with good structure and some elegance. Great balance here: a lovely fresh, modern wine that stylish and alluring. 92/100 (07/08)

Filipa Pato Lokal Calcário 2005 Beiras
Lovely dark chocolatey, blackberry nose with a hint of earthiness. Quite pure and fruit forward. The palate is bright, focused and fresh with sweet dark cherry and blackberry fruit, but firm structure, too.
Delicious stuff. 92/100 (07/08)

Filipa Pato Lokal Calcário 2003 Beiras
Nicely packaged. Sweet, forward, ripe spicy nose with a roasted edge. Good concentration on the palate which is nicely structured and shows savoury, almost earthy tannins. A structured wine that should repay ageing. Very good/excellent 90/100 (02/06)

FLP Molecular Wine 2007 Bairrada
Cryoextracted and just 10% alcohol, this was first made in 2004. The grapes are pressed, the must is settled in tank and the juice is part frozen to concentrate it. It is then fermented in used casks. Aromatic, fresh and grapey with a subtle herbiness. Sweet with a high-toned character. The palate is grapey and fresh with sweet, subtly herby, spicy notes and a rounded character. 89/100 (07/08)

FLP Molecular Wine 2005 Beiras
Lovely aromatic grapey, waxy notes on the nose with some subtly resiny notes of lemon oil. The palate is tangy and citrussy with high acidity. Really fresh and vivid with lovely expressive character and intensity. 92/100 (07/08)

Older notes (April 2005):

Ensaios FP Branco 2001 Beiras 
‘Ensaios’ translates as ‘experiment’. A white wine made from Arinto and Encruzado. Very distinctive nutty nose leads to a concentrated rich palate with distinctive nutty flavours and good acidity. Interesting if a bit unusual. Very good+ 88/100

Ensaios FP Branco 2003 Beiras
Arinto and Bical. Vivid, intense and fruity with good acidity. A rich concentrated style with lots of interest, combining the freshness of the Arinto with the creaminess of the Bical. Very good+ 89/100

Ensaios FP Tinto 2001 Beiras
A blend of Baga and Touriga Nacional. Juicy, vivid intense nose is savoury and spicy. The palate is savoury and quite elegant with lovely fruit density. A lovely intense, savoury wine. Very good/excellent 90/100

Ensaios FP Tinto 2003 Beiras
Baga, Jaen and Tinta Roriz are the grapes here, and the idea is to use the juiciness of the dominant Jaen to offset the structure of the Baga and Tinta Roriz. Intense, vividly fruited nose of red fruits. The palate is juicy and bold with good concentration and nice structure. Bold. Very good/excellent 90/100

Filipa Patos Baga 2003 Beiras
This is a special wine. Firm nose with intense fruit and some chocolatey, earthy notes. Lovely concentration to the spicy, earthy palate with nice minerality underlying the rich fruit. Very ripe. I’ve never had a Baga like this before. Very good/excellent 93/100  

see also: the wines of Luis Pato

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