2020, the Year of the Rabbit

door William Wouters & Filipa Pato, 30 januari 2021

Naar goede gewoonte sturen William en Filipa ons een nieuwsjaarsbrief met een verslag van het voorbije oogstjaar en een toewijzing van de allocaties voor dit jaar.

Lees hieronder de brief of reserveer al uw flessen van de nieuwe wijnen die er aan komen. Van de Tola Bical zullen we 480 van de 1269 flessen beschikbaar hebben voor België.

Dear Kris and Bert,


Hope to find you in good health. All the best for 2021!  We hope we can meet this year and share a good moment with lots of bottles 😘 As usual we are sending our annual report and the allocation.

2020 The Rabbit Year - TOLA
After a normal winter and a late spring, the weather in Bairrada was quite wet in May and June, then in July it became warm without real heat. August was moderately warm and in September good conditions returned again, which continued through the end of the month. It was a rather early harvest, everything was inside before 18 of September.

All these conditions indicated a “classic” harvest, our sparkling wines went very smoothly with excellent quality grapes. The whites are showing well now after the fermentations, excellent overall quality.

For the Baga vineyards everything looked really great, a decent crop of excellent quality until we arrived at our “old vines”. Three days before the intended harvest date we passed to confirm for ourselves and the team and it looked wonderful, nice tight bunches, good acidity and almost at the perfect ripeness that we’re looking for. Enormous was our disappointment when we arrived with the team to harvest when we saw our old vineyards without grapes…

We never ever had this before, we had an attack of rabbits, they really cleaned out almost all the grapes from the soil till ca 30 cm high… Our neighbors working in a conventional way didn’t have any damage… we on the other hand… unbelievable. These rabbits are really connoisseurs😩. For us 2020 is not only the year of the pandemic but also the year of the rabbit… When you work accordingly to biodynamic principles, you attract automatically more wild animals as they look for food… Now we realize very well that harvest time all grass is gone (the heat) and these animals keep looking for food… so obviously they eat these delicious Baga grapes. We need to find a natural way to provide water to these wild animals. Very often we see foxes, squirrels, hare, wild pig and … wild rabbits. Birdlife is rich: wild duck, woodcocks, falcons, hawks, buzzards, the other day we even saw and an eagle…

This is why we will not be able to produce “Nossa” Baga Vinhas Velhas nor Post Querc..s Baga in 2020. On the other hand, we will have great “Missão” in 2020 and we are making “Territorio Vivo” from what we could harvest from the remained crop on our old vines and other Baga vineyards we recently took over. 2020 will be a great vintage for whites and reds, but it will be grafted in our minds forever… 

There’s some great news too! We finally have our Demeter certification. This makes us officially the first grower in Bairrada to be both Ecocert and Demeter certified. We’re extremely happy to achieve this goal for which we worked very hard the last couple of years. You know the time and work we dedicate to the work in the vineyards. The challenge was really not easy, producing in a biodynamic way in a strong Atlantic climate with the eternal pressure of mildiou and oidium. But hey, what’s life without challenges…

To be even more dynamic, and to create more biodiversity, we started to plant local trees (Gallega olive trees) and bushes (typical strawberry trees “Medronho”) around the vineyards to protect (from herbicides and pesticides from some of the neighbors), this way we create a natural fence and attract even more insects -mainly bees. In the future we intend to produce a limited edition of our own olive oil and perhaps even honey…

The new plantations were done with our own massal selection, mainly from the “Missão” vineyard.

We already started some years ago, but now we invested in a steady project of sheep management in our vineyards during the winter months. This in a tight collaboration with a local shepherd. It gives us some great advantages: sheep are amazing weed controllers and at the same time they aerate and prepare the soils for natural fertilisation.

Speaking about sheep and Dandelion… we have a new wine we want to introduce to you: “Tola”.
We could only make 1269 bottles (sorry about the “69”… this just happens to be like this 😘).

Hereby more information  about our “TOLA” wine. 
The "Tola" is situated on a very mild slope with a great southern exposure, the soil is deep, with limestone from Jurassic inferior. Some of the Bical vines are over 60 years old. At a certain period in history, this vineyard has been considered a heirloom treasure for its incomparable quality. The “Tola” name is in honour of a crazy lady in the early 19th century, she owned the vineyard and had an extremely eccentric character.

The plantation density seems wild, but this is only in order to extract all possible nuances from the terroir. Yields are low to limit the production on the vines. We surrounded the vineyard with a fence and during wintertime sheep are there to eat the grass, enrich the soil and create more biodiversity of native plants. This vineyard is our source of Dandelion for our infusions.

This “Tola” vineyard was one of the first vineyards we bought and converted to Biodynamic practice. Since 2019 it is certified bio by Ecocert and in 2020 certified Biodynamic by Demeter.

The harvest is hand-picked in small crates to preserve the integrity of the Bical. The grapes are then gently pressed to respect the fruit. Only indigenous yeasts are used. The pressed juice goes directly in our traditional pipas to be fermented. Maturing lasts about 12 months on fine lees without batonnage and blended in a tank for more 4 months. Throughout the aging process, our absolute priority is given to the true expression of terroir and character of the vintage. There was no fining and the wine is unfiltered.

“Tola” is a precise wine and reveals the typical limestone character of Bairrada. It has a a bright pale yellow color. On the nose the wine opens out deeply, intense and elegant aromas come to the fore: floral notes of white flowers, peach blossom, pear, honey, grilled almonds, even exotic woods at times. On the palate the texture is silky and dominated by a harmonious roundness which never imparts any heaviness. The aftertaste is exceptionally persistent with smoked hints and enhances the finesse of the whole with a lingering acidity. This is a mineral wine suited for refined gastronomy.

This wine should age very well over more than 15 years, serve it at 10-12° in elegant glasses, when young better aerate in a decanter. At the table it will match heavenly with refined sweetbread or poultry in a creamy sauce, all noble white fish in sauces, scallops, langoustine, lobster and oven glazed oysters. Dry goat cheeses with a full flavored character or semi-hard raw milk cheeses will accompany this wine fabulously.

Furthermore we intend to organize a big party for the 20th harvest (Filipa’s first harvest as a single producer was in 2001). The idea is to do this party at the end of October in 2021, after the fermentations of the wines. We will start an intimate campaign to launch this special anniversary year… more details will follow.

May each challenge you face in the upcoming year be met with a spirit of optimism, courage, and hope. Wishing you a wonderful New Year and from our point of view, a year without rabbits in September…


Lots of love from Bairrada,


Filipa & William