Producer Q & A: Filipe Teixeira of Herdade do Sobroso, Alentejo, Portugal

Updated: Sep 12

"One of my wife and I’s favorite restaurants in Evora is called Taberna Tipica Quarta Feira. Opened and successfully operated by Ze Dias for almost thirty years, his signature style was to serve you what he wanted - no menu and no choices, including wine. He was wildly successful. In 2018, as Ze slowly transitioned away from the day to day running of the restaurant, his son Joao, Johnny as we like to call him, was gifted the restaurant. One of Johnny’s very first changes to the restaurant was to increase the wine selection. He was friends with Filipe of Herdade do Sobroso, so among an expansion of around 5 new family owned wineries, Sobroso was added to the wine list.

I think the first wine of Filipe’s we tried was the Cellar Selection rose. What a wine. Everything Filipe did, particularly his mid tier and higher end wines, felt different from the other wines coming out of the Alentejo. I find the Sobroso wines to have a depth many of the wines in this price category don’t possess. We eventually began a partnership and Tinto is now the only US retailer of Sobroso wines."

- Founder of Tinto Wines & Importer of Herdade do Sobroso, Peter Brinkman

Appellation: DOC Alentejo

Producers in appellation: 200 plus

Your total production in bottles: 500,000

Number of different wines you produce: 13

Do you use natural cork closures (y/n): Yes

Are you organic/biodynamic practicing: We practice sustainable farming and winemaking.

Your yield per hectare: 8000 kg

Q: How did you end up at the winery?

Sobroso is a family owned farm and winery belonging to my wife’s family. My wife, Sofia, and I are responsible for managing the properties – the vineyard, the wine production, the hotel, the forests, and the agriculture. It is a big property with 1600 hectares (3950 acres).

Q: What is your role?

I am the Production Manager and Winemaker. I am also responsible for managing the forest. We have already planted 600,000 cork trees just over the past 15 years.

Q: Everyone talks about terroir. What makes yours unique?

Herdade do Sobroso sits on the banks of the Guadiana River Valley, the 3rd largest in Portugal. The soil where our vineyard grows is extraordinarily complex, varying from clay to schist to sand and rolled pebbles.

The soil is the result of the last de-icing age that occurred 100,000 years ago. Although inland and 90km away from the coast, the weather is influenced by the predominant winds coming from the ocean during summertime, which brings us some humidity and cool nights.

All this that comes together for the specific terroir of Vidigueira has made it famous for white wines, and in recent years, for fresh and elegant red wines.

"Alentejo is the place for foodies. You have all sorts of black pig pork sausages and chorizos, sheep and goat cheeses everywhere, and some of the best olives and olive oils you can find. The meat here is mainly pork and lamb and you also get a wide variety of fresh fish from the Atlantic coast and, of course, cod fish. Alentejo is also home of “migas” and “açordas”, very typical dishes you will only find here."

Q: What do you do to keep your wines and land healthy?

Herdade do Sobroso is a pioneer in Sustainable Farming in Alentejo. Sobroso is one of the founding members, together with the DOC Alentejo Certification Commission, of the Alentejo Wines Sustainability Program (PSVA). More, the program has moved into the winery and is now on its 3rd step towards Social Sustainability. PSVA is now working to gain international recognition and certification. Concerning soil fertilization, I am only using sheep and cow manure and minimum pesticides.

Q: How many different grape varieties do you work with?

I am working with a wide range of varieties, both Portuguese and International. Our focus is on indigenous Portuguese varieties and blends. The international varieties we bring in act as the salt and pepper to fine the blends.

Our red varieties are: Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet.

Our white varieties are actually all Portuguese: Antão Vaz and Perrum (local varieties from our sub-region Vidigueira), Arinto, Verdelho and Alvarinho.

Q: If you use non indigenous grapes, what is the reason?

I use non indigenous grapes that are well adapted to the climate, that add something positive to the portfolio and are different from traditional local varieties. They can be used to improve blends or to create wines of a distinctive character.

Q: What is the most difficult part of the wine business?

The most difficult is of course selling the wine. Fortunately, we are working with professional partners that embrace Sobroso’s spirit and are able to deliver it to our costumers worldwide.

Q: What are your goals for the winery?

My intention is to strengthen our portfolio and to focus on constant improvement of our wines. I am also studying the possibility of making some sparkling wine soon. My intention is to have Sobroso listed as a must have in the Alentejo wine scene for the generations to come.

Q: What impact is climate change having?

Being in one of the most southern regions in Europe we are experiencing warmer and drier summer periods. This is a challenge for summer is the ripening season of the grapes and extreme weather conditions may affect their quality.

Q: Tell us something about your region or area (history, music, art, etc).

Alentejo accounts for one third of Portugal. Being so big you can imagine it is also diverse. Sobroso is right in the middle, in Vidigueira. Being inland we have warm and dry summers and cold winters. It does not rain a lot and when it does it is mainly during Autumn and Spring. It is Europe’s sunniest spot. Even in winter the days are bright and mainly sunny. It is a great place for wine tourism all year round.

Winemaking in the region dates to the Roman Empire era. Today it is still possible to visit a well preserved ancient Roman farm nearby – S. Cucufate.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the food of your region.

Alentejo is the place for foodies. You have all sorts of black pig pork sausages and chorizos, sheep and goat cheeses everywhere, and some of the best olives and olive oils you can find. The meat here is mainly pork and lamb and you also get a wide variety of fresh fish from the Atlantic coast and, of course, cod fish. Alentejo is also home of “migas” and “açordas”, very typical dishes you will only find here.

Q: What is your favorite local restaurant?

My favorite local Restaurant is “Quarta-feira” that literally means “Wednesday”. It is the best food experience one can get around in Alentejo. Top quality food and wine, friendly and welcoming people, and you do not choose what you will have, they choose for you according to what they are serving that day. You can relax with your eyes closed 😊

Q: What is their specialty?

Pork Neck is their specialty. This is slowly cooked for 6 hours… it is the best.

Q: What do you eat at home with your wine?

I try to vary between meat and fish every other meal. Pork (free range from our farm), codfish, “açordas” (typical local dish) … This way I get to drink different wines everyday 😊

Q: What do you do for fun?

Travel, I really like to travel. I believe it is the best thing you can do with your free time, to explore and get to know different countries and cultures. When I am not traveling, I am planning the next one.

Q: What about your next vacation?

Africa, again. I love Africa, so I am planning my next trip to Tanzania.



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