Dirk Niepoort – One of the World’s Great Winemakers and Innovators
The family Niepoort have been making wine in the Douro since 1842 and have always enjoyed a good reputation. In 1990, a youthful Dirk Niepoort took over the reins and has, without doubt, become one of the world’s finest and most innovative winemakers, involving himself in many diverse projects and not only in his native Portugal. It is there, nevertheless, that he has been a leading light in the wine revolution that has taken Portugal from ‘having potential’ to being internationally recognised for the quality and diversity of its production over recent decades, and he has done all this whilst continuing to produce some of the region’s finest Ports. His signature style, even in his Ports, is one of elegance and balance; there is always a natural, not a forced, feel to his wines.
Price is per case, size as indicated, inclusive of VAT, all wines offered subject to remaining available. Delivery at £10 charged for orders below £200 (or at cost outside of England). E & OE 10% Discount off 18 bottles or more.
This is such a bargain. Made from Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Sousao, Touriga Nacional, mainly young vines grown in Dirk’s Quinta de Nápoles vineyards. The wine is aged in large wooden containers made from old Port casks.
2017 Bioma – £149.70
Lifted fruit on the nose, red and black fruits, spice, earthy notes – lovely mouthfeel, rustic in a good way – natural or honest may be better words, the tannins are velvety, with good acidiy to balance. Delicious, perfect autumn wine.
The 2017 Bioma is a field blend (heavy on Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Sousão and Touriga Nacional) sourced from organic, 25+-year-old vines. Aged for 12 months in used Portuguese vats, it comes in at 13.6% alcohol. Often, I say the Vertente and Twisted Tinto are the best Douro values in the Niepoort lineup, but there is a changing of the guard and that crown has passed, at least this year, to this wine. (Don’t forget the lovely Dão wine, the Conciso Tinto, though.) It might also matter that this is a 2017, a different vintage. Adding the concentration that the Vertente could’ve used, this coats the palate well while showing a more serious backbone to support its expressive fruit. It’s pretty delicious, in fact. Despite the power, it’s easy to drink now because the tannins are rather ripe. This is beautiful. The only question now will be how it ages. It should do pretty well in theory, and I’m leaning up on this for the moment. We’ll start here and take it in stages. There were 6,290 bottles produced. Rating 91 Drink Date 2021 – 2032 Reviewed by Mark Squires Issue Date 30th Jul 2021 Source End of July 2021, The Wine Advocate
Niepoort first made Redoma in 1991 and it’s always been a very good wine with a favourable balance between quality and price. Over the years, Dirk has tweaked the blend and the wine is now more elegant than the early vintages; it’s a compelling wine, combining unique Douro character and flavours with top class winemaking.
2018 Redoma Tinto – £233.70 per 6 x 75cl
This is quite closed still, so I would open in the morning to drink at dinner if drinking now, for those with will power it will reward some cellar time. Lovely bright, clear colour, after some time open this revealed itself more – ripe red and blacks fruits, damson plum, floral – quite perfumed. Good acidity, fine tannins (quite to the fore), the fruit is lovely but it’s all a bit puppy-ish now. Terrific potential. I finished the sample bottle I had the next day with some steak, and that worked really well.
The 2018 Redoma is a field blend of typical grapes (like Tinta Amarela, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão) aged for 22 months in used 1,000-liter Portuguese vats. It comes in at just 12.5% alcohol. My pick for the best of the upper-level 2018 reds this issue, and a relative bargain besides, this easily coats the palate. Then, it shows off its power. Like its upper-level 2018 siblings, the fruit profile is not terribly expressive just now, and this is going to need a couple of years of cellaring to show its best. The upside potential seems most likely to be realized here in the group, however. Time will ultimately give us that answer, so come back around 2026. This is another of Niepoort’s 2018s that you will want to buy only if you can cellar it, at least for a few years. It looks like a beauty in the making. Rating 93+ Drink Date2023 – 2043 Reviewed by Mark Squires Issue Date 30th Jul 2021 Source End of July 2021, The Wine Advocate
2019 Redoma Branco – £143.70 per 6 x 75cl
This has always been something of a bargain although not an easy sell, fear of the unknown, perhaps. Made from Rabigato, Códega, Viosinho, Arinto and others from old vines on the right bank of the Douro River, located at an altitude between 500 and 600 metres in mica schist soils. Just 12% alcohol and sees about 20% new oak, just to soften its minerally nature. Crisp, elegant, subtle fruit, touch of saline on the finish – good balance and length. Terrific, really moreish.
The 2019 Redoma Branco is a field blend from old vines featuring Rabigato, Códega, Viosinho, Donzelinho and others, aged for six months in 20% new French oak. It comes in very dry and at just 12.2% alcohol. This is another super Redoma Branco, which is easily one of the very best values in the Niepoort lineup every year. It’s never a big and fat wine, so if that’s what you’re looking for, look away. It has wonderfully expressive fruit and a subtle concentration that is impressive, however. Plus, it has beautiful structure and persistent but controlled tension on the finish. It’s always bright, never shrill, and it handles the modest wood well. There is a slight smoked-toast nuance, but not a lot. It’s something to watch, or give this some air. This is a lot of wine for the money if you like the fresh and understated style. Niepoort always says these will age for a couple of decades. It probably will, but let’s take that in stages. His track record of saying such things and backing it up has been pretty good, though, and I have seen some nicely developed and intriguing ones. There were 60,000 bottles produced from old vines (60 to 80 years) Rating 92 Drink Date 2021 – 2036 Reviewed by Mark Squires Issue Date 30th Jul 2021 Source End of July 2021, The Wine Advocate
Batuta (Baton, as in conductor) was first released in 1999. The fruit comes from Quinta do Carril, a north-facing vineyard with more than 70 years, near Quinta de Nápoles and also from two other vineyards that are over 100 years old, planted at an altitude of 750 metres. A more complex and refined wine than Redoma.
2017 Batuta – £450 per 6 x 75cl
Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Rufete, Malvazia Preta & others – the vineyard sites vary in height and aspect so this is very much a field blend, each grape for its attributes. This is such an attractive wine, good weight, aromatic with supple fruit flavours and lovely balance.
The 2017 Batuta is a field blend from old vines aged for 20 months in 25% new French barriques. It comes in at just 13% alcohol. Not quite bottled when seen, this was the final blend and out of cask. Well. If I thought the Redoma was gloriously fresh, this one-ups it pretty easily. “Glorious” is the right word here, at least when coupled with “freshness.” Silky, fruit forward and simple enlivening, this has a lingering finish filled with lifted fruit flavor. As always, there isn’t a lot of depth, and it has an understated feel for its level. And, as tends to happen, I have a slight preference for the Redoma in the lineup. This 2017, however, is certainly a great example of a food wine that will drain fast at the table. Its freshness will preserve it as it ages, but it is surprisingly approachable right now. Rating (92 – 94) Drink Date 2020 – 2042 Reviewed by Mark Squires Issue Date 30th Aug 2019 Source Issue 244 End of August 2019, The Wine Advocate
Niepoort excel at Colheita (single vintage tawny) Ports and this 2008 is one of the finest I’ve tasted. Colheitas have some advantages over a Vintage Port: one, it needs no decanting, and two, it keeps well once opened. It is the most underrated Port category in the UK, which is a shame (particularly for the consumer, who misses out on what is possibly the best value Port that money can buy). Aged in lodge pipes (pipas, 500-550 litre, old barrels) for a minimum of seven years, Colheitas not only have to display the vintage on the bottle, but also the year the wine was bottled.
2008 Colheita – £135 per 3 x 75cl
From a truly exceptional vintage: rain during Spring and early summer led to reduced yields and moist soil, which combined with cool conditions in July and August led to a late harvest of healthy, concentrated grapes, high in acidity with immense freshness and balance.
With brick-red edges, but still quite a deep purple. Aromas of dried fruit and nuts, but somehow still very fresh and youthful. In the mouth, it simply explodes; enormous concentration combined with surprising freshness, leading to a beautiful, long and rich but clean finish. Sui generis
FIO, Mosel, Germany
What Dirk Did Next. This is a new project started with his son Daniel and his local friend Philipp Kettern in Piesport (recently, Dirk’s youngest son, Marco, became part of the team, keeping things in the family). It’s not that this part of the Mosel doesn’t have a lot of fine growers, but with Dirk comes a fresh look at things and a wealth of knowledge and experience, and interesting things are already happening.
2018 Riesling ‘Socalcos’ – £149.70
The vineyard, Leiwener Josefberg, which you probably won’t have heard of, sits just outside of Piesport, but on the less-favoured, southern side of the river with west-facing vineyards on the banks of a tributary. Unusually, the vines are planted in double rows on terraces, just like the ‘socalcos’ in Dirk’s native Douro that give the wine its name and which initially attracted him. The vineyard’s site and aspect allow it to catch both the sun and the local breezes, keeping pest and fungal problems to a minimum without the need for manual (or chemical) intervention; a handful of sheep are also used (or exploited, if you prefer) to control the grass. Typically of Dirk, everything is as much hands off as possible, and if this second vintage is anything to go by this is a project to watch.
This is an absolute eye-opener: technically, it is a ‘trocken’, given the definition, but that is open to interpretation. Most producers have tried to produce ‘trocken’ wines of minimal residual sugar, but I have rarely found them convincing. This balances residual sugar and acidity, which is obviously the intention of the regulations. The result is a wine that tastes dry but has body, but with the almost indefinable floral and fruity flavours that one associates with a Mosel. Perhaps, Mosel as it was meant to be?
From the transverse-terraced Leiwener Josefberg, the dry 2018 Riesling Socalcos offers a clear, intense, floral and stony-scented bouquet of ripe Riesling and crushed quartzite. Delicate yet intense and even juicy on the palate, this is an intense, even powerful and densely textured dry Riesling in the classic style. Lean, fresh and floral but with substance, grip and serious length. Excellent! Tasted in May 2020 Drink Date 2020 – 2036 Reviewed by Stephan Reinhardt Issue Date 13th Aug 2020 Source August 2020 Week 2, The Wine Advocate