Bairrada is a tiny little coastal region in Portugal, roughly equidistant from Lisbon and Porto. It is lined with limestone and clay soils similar to Burgundy, and an Atlantic climate similar to Bordeaux, and it has been quietly sending out a trickle of some of the most exciting wines in Europe. Dirk Niepoort, undoubtedly the most important winemaker in the country, has called it Portugal’s greatest terroir. The red wines, made with the grape Baga, are particularly enchanting, with a structure similar to Nebbiolo: taught tannins, abundant acidity, and a concentrated mid palate. The aromas can range from meaty and feral like a great Cornas, to brambly and cigar flecked like a top flight Bordeaux, to beautifully floral and infused with the sauvage complexity of a great Gevrey Chambertin. The white wines, based on the Bical grape, are intensely mineral and textured, somewhere between great Chardonnay and Assyrtiko.
Filipa Pato is winemaking royalty in Bairrada. She is the daughter of Luis Pato, the first producer to make wine under the Bairrada DOC designation and a source of perennial ambition and inspiration for the region. Her style, however, is quite a departure from her father and the region at large which tends towards deliciously savory wines with a rustic flair. Filipa focuses on the sheer elegance of Baga, making wines more akin to Burgundy in their balance between gentler tannins and purity of fruit yet intense concentration of perfume.
With her Burgundian sensibility, outstanding winemaking, and access to some of the region’s greatest vineyards, Filipa has gone from the daughter of the most famous winemaker in the region to an absolute rockstar in her own right. Across the board, her wines have a great sense of definition and balance, yet also with a fantastic mid palate density that elevates both their sense of deliciousness and their potential age worthiness. The value here, especially on the Calcario wines, is second to none, representing a cross section of great Burgundy, Rhone, and Piedmont at close to ¼ of the price of an equivalent bottle. The Nossa Missao, from ancient, own rooted vines, is one of the Grand Crus of Portugal, a truly world class wine that stands up to the very best of Europe.