wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)


Dirk van der Niepoort and his remarkable wines 
a retrospective of the work of Portugal's most famous winemaker

Website: www.niepoort-vinhos.com  

I first met Portuguese winemaker Dirk Niepoort in 2002, at one of what was to become a series of annual Dirk Niepoort dinners for UK trade and press. At that first meeting, I asked him what his winemaking philosophy was. ‘I like wines with extremes,’ he explained. ‘As rich and tannic as possible, but they have to have harmony.’ It’s a typical Niepoort answer. After meeting him on many occasions subsequently, I regard him as one of the sharpest, most provocative and most thoughtful of all winemakers: always willing to experiment, and with a strong sense of direction that comes from being a student of the world’s great wines.

Dirk was born in March 1964 to a family who owned a small Port shipping business, the van der Niepoorts. After a spell away studying, working in a wine shop and making wine, Dirk returned to the family firm in 1987, and was determined to do something different. With fruit from two newly purchased Quintas—Napoles (in 1987) and Carril (in 1988)—he decided to try making table wine.

His first foray into winemaking, Robustus, was an important wine in the history of Douro reds, simply because it was Dirk’s first. Robustus 1990 was an experiment made with grapes from Quinta do Carril, an old vineyard planted in 1925. Carril has a mixture of many varieties, predominantly Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela, and is now the source of Batuta. Significantly, it is north facing. ‘It’s the first time I made wines from Carril,’ says Dirk. ‘Over the years I had come to the conclusion that south-facing vineyards were best for Port, but for making great red wine you need more even ripening. In north-facing vineyards you don’t have direct sun so you don’t have burnt characters or heaviness.’ He adds that because of more even ripening, in the Douro with its hot summers north-facing vineyards often result in wines with more alcohol because in the south-facing spots maturity is stopped at the hottest times. 

Dirk in the Niepoort lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia

‘When I started making wine I had a dream of making an elegant wine,’ he reveals. ‘But Robustus 1990 was a monster: overextracted, dark, strange—too much.’ Indeed, there seems to be a parallel here with Australia’s most famous table wine, Grange. When Max Schubert first made the wine in 1951, in an era where fortified wine was dominant, it was derided—to the extent that he had to take the project underground. Dirk’s first wine met with a poor reception from his father, who thought so badly of it that he sold the majority of it off while Dirk was in Australia in 1991. Of the initial five pipes, just one was left, which made a production of 630 bottles and 45 magnums.

Dirk reveals how he served the Robustus to Michael Broadbent, who described it as the Latour of Portugal. Dirk’s father, Rolf, responded saying that it was disgusting and smelled of new wood. Dirk countered by saying that it was never in new wood. Michael says, ‘Rolf, it’s really good.’ Rolf says, ‘It smells of shit.’ Then they opened some 1945s and the evening went well from there.

However, Dirk was convinced of the potential of the wine. ‘This is a wine region with 2000 years of tradition, but 1950 years of bad winemaking,’ he says. ‘For the last 200 years the wine side has been mistreated because Port has been the focus. From 1990–2000 wines developed quite slowly, but from 2001 onwards there has been a dramatic change: we are living through a revolution.’

Of Robustus, Dirk says ‘I am very proud of it,’ and says that despite the mistakes he made, he thinks it is amazing how good it tastes.

Niepoort Robustus 1990
Very dark colour. Exotic, spicy, medicinal nose is complex with some dark chocolate notes and nice full red and black fruits. The palate is dense and spicy with lovely acidity. It’s quite bold and full, and surprisingly youthfull still, with crunchy, dusty, spicy tannic structure. Rustic, but in a nice way: a delicious wine drinking well. Very good/excellent 92/100 (05/06)


The next stage in the Niepoort revolution was Redoma, which was the first commercially released Niepoort table wine, with the 1991 vintage (which, when tasted in May 2006, was still going strong). This became Dirk’s main wine, and he made it throughout the 1990s, shifting in style a little as he tried to find the right direction, and adding a white partner in 1993. In the late 1990s, Dirk took the step of hiring a winemaker to assist him. He chose Jorge Serodio Borges, who was the brother of Margarida Serodio Borges of Quinta do Fojo (who Dirk once dated). Dirk says that he had been looking for someone to work with him for five years, until he found Jorge. He was looking for someone ‘technically better and different,’ but at the same time someone who would understand him.

With the 1999 vintage, Jorge’s first, Dirk decided that he had finally hit a style that he was happy with. This was also the debut vintage for Dirk’s new high-end wine, Batuta (more on this later). He describes 1999 Redoma as a monster wine: big, alcoholic and impressive. He thinks 2001 is the best: this is where Redoma should be. ‘Redoma should show the wildness of the Douro: harshness, edges, not most polished,’ says Dirk, ‘but I don’t want it to be jammy.’

However, after a few years the relationship between Dirk and Jorge deteriorated, and Jorge ended up leaving in 2003. Dirk hired his current winemaker, Luis Seabra, as a replacement.  

Niepoort Redoma 2008
Fresh, focused dark cherry fruit with lovely structure and good acidity. Shows finesse. Taut with a slightly roast coffee edge from the oak. Lovely structure and potential for development. 92/100 (10/10)

Niepoort Redoma 2007 (from magnum)
Taut and savoury with some spiciness. Quite refined and youthful with wildness but also finesse. Fresh with good acidity and dark cherry and berry fruits, with lovely structure. Finely wrought and precise. 93/100 (03/11) 

Niepoort Redoma 2007
Very fresh and elegant with cherries and plums. Lovely freshness and good structure. Fantastically fresh with good structure and nice savouriness. Great potential 93/100 (03/10)

Niepoort Redoma 2006
Sweet, pure, ripe blackcurrant and blackberry fruit nose is quite forward. The palate has a really ripe, supple, fruity character with some nice spicy structure underneath, as well as good acidity. A fruity version of Redoma, but still balanced. 92/100 (11/08)

Niepoort Redoma 2006
Focused, fresh, spicy nose with red berry and black fruits, as well as a bit of sweet cherry. The palate shows sweet, smooth, elegant fruit with lovely focus and some firm tannic structure underneath it. 93/100 (06/08)

Niepoort Redoma 2005
Bright, focused nose is spicy, fresh and intense with lovely focus. The palate is bold and full with lovely fresh spicy fruit, grippy tannins and good acidity. Great depth here, and lovely purity, as well as some wildness. 94/100 (05/07)

Niepoort Redoma 2004
Rich, pure, chocolatey, sweet dark fruits nose. The palate is smooth with sweet dark fruits and also an earthy, spicy complexity. Nice freshness combines well with richness. A really nice presice wine. Very good/excellent 93/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Redoma 2004
This is the wine that sums up the Douro for me. Lovely bright, spicy definition to the nose which shows brilliant red and black fruits. The palate has great acidity and lots of structure. It’s similar in style to the 2001, just a bit finer and a little better. Less wild, too—but everything is here. Very good/excellent 94/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Redoma 2002
A good effort from a difficult year. Smooth, savoury, ripe nose is quite elegant. The palate is structured and subtly earthy, with nice tannins. Very good/excellent 92/100 (02/06)

Niepoort Redoma 2001
Dark, spicy, chocolatey fruit nose countered by lovely fresh spiciness. The palate is bold and dense but fresh at the same time, with good acid and a nice tight spiciness. A really lovely expressive wine with great potential. Very good/excellent 93/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Redoma 2001
‘It’s not supposed to be the best wine in the world’, says Dirk, ‘but rather it should be the best expression of the Douro without pretending to be the finest. It has great personality with some tannins and acidity that can be a bit striking.’ This is showing really well now. It’s tight and firm but has a lovely freshness. The dominant feature is bright red fruits with a spicy, almost Italian character and hints of chocolatey richness. The palate is bright and fresh with serious tannic structure and good acidity – a fantastic wine with a long life ahead of it. Very good/excellent 94/100 (05/05)

Niepoort Redoma 2000
70 year old vines and miserly yields of 15 hl/ha result in a classy red wine that will reward patience. Classy nose of chocolatey, herby, spicy berry fruit is clean, modern and correct, and less wild than previous vintages. Well integrated new oak. Good concentration on the rich spicy palate with firm tannins and good acidity. 93/100 (04/03)

Niepoort Redoma 1999
Sweet, slightly meaty dark fruits nose with nice smoothness and spiciness. The palate is open, meaty and spicy with smooth sweet dark fruits and a hint of olive. Nice spicy tannic bite. It’s made in quite a modern style but has attractive sleek darkly fruited expression. Very good/excellent 92/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Redoma 1997
Very deep red/purple colour. Intense nose shows rich herby blackcurrant and plum fruit with just a touch of new oak. The palate is concentrated, chewy and herby with rich fruit and some tannic structure. There’s also an attractive medicinal edge. Quite classy stuff. Very good/excellent. (05/02)

Niepoort Redoma 1996
Fourth release of this wine. A blend of Tinta Amarela, Touriga Francesca and Tinta Roriz. Some of the wine is aged in barriques. Red/black colour, this is concentrated stuff. Firm, complex, earthy and mineral notes combine with a strong structure and great complexity. Lovely stuff. (05/00)

Niepoort Redoma 1994
This Douro red from Niepoort is made from Tinta Amarela, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Roriz vines with an average age of 55 years. It was bottled unfiltered in July 1997. An opaque purple black, this has a powerful nose of cherries and olives, with some garrigue-like herbal notes, some chocolate and some coffee. On the palate it is concentrated, with firm, dry tannins. This is a massive wine! Huge and savoury, dark and brooding, with bitter cherries and herbs coming to the fore, the oak it has seen is virtually undetectable. Imagine a bone dry, young port. Sensational stuff, distinctly Portuguese, and one of the most memorable wines I have had in recent months. (10/99)

Niepoort Redoma 1991 
The first Redoma. Smooth, dark fruits nose is quite refined with a subtle, spicy minerality. The palate is smooth and nicely fruity with a bit of minerality and good tannins. Really quite elegant and balanced: a lovely wine ageing well and now drinking superbly. 93/100 (05/06)


With Batuta, Dirk once said to me that his aim is to make a ‘monster' wine, but at the same time one that it extremely elegant. Rather enigmatically he says, ‘I like wines that are a bit in excess, but always tasting the opposite of what they are.’  Batuta comes from Quinta do Carril, and if Charme is Niepoort’s Burgundy-style wine, then this is his tilt at Bordeaux. No Batuta was made in 2002 or 2006.  

Niepoort Batuta 2008
Lovely pure raspberry, black cherry and mineral nose. The palate is bold and dense with lovely structure and purity. Bold, dense dark fruits here with great freshness and a bit of meatiness. Finesse and length, too. 96/100 (10/10)

Niepoort Batuta 2008
Fresh and intense with nice definition and raspberry and black cherry fruit. Fine acidity. Mineralic, spicy structure. With great definition, this is a serious wine that is still very primary. 95/100 (02/11)

Niepoort Batuta 2007 (from magnum)
Tight with some spicy oak notes, and fine black cherry and blackberry fruit. Concentrated, fine, mineral and taut on the palate with good acidity and fine tannins. Still tannic and youthful with some oak imprint, but this has great potential for development. 95/100 (03/11)

Niepoort Batuta 2007
Sweet, focused, pure berry and cherry fruit nose. The palate is pure and elegant with a sappy note and amazing fruit focus. Pure and unadorned with firm yet refined structure. Not size, but beauty. 95/100 (10/09)

Niepoort Batuta 2006 (barrel sample - in the end, no Batuta was released in 2006)
Vivid, spicy, chocolatey dark fruits nose. The palate is firm and structured yet still elegant with lovely presence and potential. 95/100 (10/07)

Niepoort Batuta 2005
Quite elegant, fresh and vivid with an intense red fruits nose. The palate is smooth and intense with red and black fruits. Nice precision and freshness. There’s lots of elegant fruit here with some grippy but sophisticated tannins. Serious stuff with a long future ahead of it. 96/100 (05/07)

Niepoort Batuta 2004
Lovely full, fresh nose showing sweet dark chocolatey, spicy notes. Great definition. The palate is concentrated with rich, sweet fruit, but under this the structure is huge. A powerful yet elegant, intense yet refined wine that is simply thrilling. A fresh, tight style with lots of potential. Excellent 96/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Batuta 2003
‘This is a wine I like a lot, even though I am not the greatest fan of 2003,’ says Dirk. Batuta spends 30–45 days on skins, but not to achieve bigger tannins, but rather finer tannins. ‘It is a big wine, but it is elegant and quite light’. Dirk adds as an aside that if a wine is not so ripe, then it needs longer in oak to get the balance right. This wines shows a rich, ripe perfumed nose of great precision. Some rich, slightly chocolatey oak is currently showing. Dense, concentrated palate with some supple, spicy fruit that is still absurdly primary. Fine and elegant, a serious young wine of great potential. 93–96/100 (this was a sample of the final blend before bottling) (05/05)

Niepoort Batuta 2001
Very dark intense, spicy chocolatey nose. Very fine, with complex spicy red and black fruits, although it isn’t fruit dominated. The palate is concentrated, chewy and dense with very firm but fine texture, and some wood in the background. Great acidity. This is a remarkable wine with a long future ahead of it. I wouldn’t open it for a decade. Excellent 95/100 (11/04)

Niepoort Batuta 2001 Douro
Perfumed chocolatey, spicy nose with some roasted notes and taut dark fruits. There’s a lovely tight, rounded spicy structure to the palate which has more of that roasted edge and a spicy finish. Dense, taut and concentrated this is a young wine with a lot of potential. Refreshingly this is only 12.8% alcohol. Two days later we retried what was left in the bottle: it was still dense and tight, but the roasted character has diminished, which brings the focused fruit more to the fore. Very good/excellent 94/100 (03/04)

Niepoort Batuta 2000 Douro
Tight herby nose is a little shy. The palate is dense, taut, spicy and herby with great concentration of fruit and a firm structure, together with vibrant acidity. It’s got great structure but presently it is at a bit of an awkward stage in its development. It's a more polite, less extreme wine than the other two. Very good/excellent 91/100 (03/04)

Niepoort Batuta 1999 Douro
A little shy on the nose initially, this opens out to show ripe red and black fruits with a savoury spicy edge. The palate shows chewy, spicy fruit with great structure and super balance. Lots of personality here. Good acidity underlying the vivid fruit. Some of the initial impact that this wine had a couple of years ago has gone, and it's yet to take on the secondary complexity that comes with age. Patience will be required. Very good/excellent 93/100  (03/04)

Quinta do Carril 


In contrast to Batuta, with Charme Dirk’s aim is ‘finesse, finesse, finesse.’ Charme is an unusual wine in several respects. The grapes are foot trodden in lagares (large, shallow stone troughs) with the stems, which you’d think would result in a harsh, tannic wine. But Dirk’s view is that foot-treading with stems can actually produce elegant wines, and he cites Domaine de la Romanée Conti as his precedent. ‘It’s very difficult to make wine with stems,’ he says. ‘If they are too green, they result in aggressive, unbalanced wines with off flavours.’ Timing the pressing correctly is also important. ‘In 2001 we missed pressing of one lagar by five hours. It won’t be a Charme.’ Interestingly, Dirk alludes to the fact that his inspiration for Charme comes from Grand Cru red Burgundy. Burgundy-like wines from the Douro? The other unusual thing about the inaugural 2000 Charme is that it received Pingus-like 200% new oak treatment (malolactic fermentation in new barrels followed by racking to more new barrels). Dirk say that this is not an experiment he will repeat, although the result is not as oaky as you’d think it might be. 

‘It’s the most complicated wine to make on earth,’ he explains. ‘Everything has to be perfect.’ Dirk admits that although ‘it’s a pain in the ass to make, the result is quite nice.’

Charme 2002 is a fascinating wine. It’s made from low yielding vines picked a little early, with 100% stem contact. ‘I want it to be light, concentrated and long,’ says Dirk. This shows ripe chocolatey edged fruity on the nose—ripe and full. Black fruits dominate with tarry richness and some new oak. There’s great elegance and finesse, with a rich spicy finish.

‘It’s different from anything else we do,’ says Dirk. ‘It is based on having as much finesse, elegance and complexity as possible from the Douro, which is quite warm.’ Of the 2005, he describes it as ‘my cup of tea.’ ‘I wanted to pick earlier, and in 2005 we picked two weeks earlier than analysis suggested.’ The main varieties are Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, and it is from 80 year old vineyards, yielding at 10–15 hl/ha. ‘It is the best wine we have done,’ he said (this was in 2007).  

Niepoort Charme 2008
Pale-ish colour. Expressive, open cherryish nose with lovely purity and a mineral edge. The palate has a warm texture with pure fruit. Silky and intense with red cherries and berries. Pure and seductive. 95/100 (10/10)

Niepoort Charme 2007
Fine and fresh with red cherry and spice notes on the nose. The palate has a lovely taut, spicy savouriness, with fine-grained tannins and good structure. Pure and dense but really fine. 95/100 (03/11)

Niepoort Charme 2006
Nicely elegant, fresh, pure sweet cherry and berry fruit nose. The palate is smooth and super-elegant with lovely freshness and purity. Nice acidity, too. Pretty serious stuff with real purity, although I notice that others have given this some low scores: I disagree. 94/100 (11/08)

Niepoort Charme 2006
Perfumed, elegant nose with aromatic cherry fruit and some chocolatey, spicy, oaky notes. The palate is bright and elegant with lovely sweet fruit and nice spiciness. Currently some oak showing, but this is well set for an interesting evolution. 93/100 (06/08)

Niepoort Charme 2005
Smooth, spicy, warm, elegant nose is expressive and pure. The palate is warm with some chocolatey richness and a bit of spice. Great concentration, but really elegant with it. Amazing. 96/100 (10/07)

Niepoort Charme 2005
Rich, smooth and stylish with real elegance to it. A rich style, but with some stemmy, spicy freshness on the nose. Great concentration and freshness, with just a hint of spicy greenness, allied with the smooth, rich red fruits on the palate. 95/100 (05/07)

Niepoort Charme 2004 
Smooth, elegant, perfumed, slightly chocolatey nose. The palate is soft, smooth and quite elegant. There’s some concentration here, but also great smoothness and elegance. One for the future: I reckon this will evolve really nicely. 94/100 (02/07)

Niepoort Charme 2004
Smooth, sweet, open elegant nose with hints of chocolate and vanilla. The palate is soft and concentrated with refined tannins and nice spiciness to the structure. However, the tannins hide well behind the fruit. Is it a hint of new wood showing, or the influence of the stems? A serious wine with a great future ahead of it, and one which may well outperform Batuta in the future, although the styles are quite different. 95/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Charme 2002
Quite deep coloured, the nose shows sweet aromatic, spicy-edged red berry and cherry fruit. Smooth and aromatic. The palate is dense an firm with some nice tannic structure and a core of tight spiciness. There’s some elegance here, but also some structure, with a subtle, integrated greenness. Stylish and intense with lovely purity, and beginning to evolve nicely—if I had some I’d keep it for a while before opening. 93/100 (11/08)

Niepoort Charme 2002
‘2002 was a bad year in the Douro, but for Charme it was pretty much perfect,’ says Dirk. ‘Three quarters were picked before the rain and a quarter was picked after.’ There was some dilution of the must in the rained-on portion, and they were kept separate. But in the journey to Napoles the barrels were mixed up, although this took a while to work out because the diluted portion tasted so good. Lovely rich, soft elegant nose with a chocolatey edge to it. The smooth palate is ripe and sweet edged with a lovely elegance and some warmth. Nice spicy finish: this is serious stuff. 93/100 (05/05)

Dirk discussing his wines at one of his legendary dinners 

Redoma Rosé

‘A lot of people think they don’t like Rosé’, says Dirk, ‘but this is because most Rosés are treated as garbage.’ Many are made with a bit of residual sugar to hide the mistakes. Dirk first tried to do Rosé in 1996, and in 1999 he decided to step up the quantity a bit. Initially it was made with saignée (vat bleeding) of the best reds, but the result proved a little heavy. In 2000 Dirk changed things round a bit. Into the blend went some Tinta Amarela that he’d picked early to get good acidity and lower alcohol, and a portion of the whole blend was barrel fermented. The results since have been impressive: this is a gastronomic wine that seems to age well.

Niepoort Redoma Rosé 2001
This is about as serious as Rosé gets. 25% is fermented in new wood, some in old wood and the rest in stainless steel. Dirk says that the wood helps to keep it alive in the ageing process, and thinks that this may age for a few years. It’s a deep pink/red colour. Savoury, fresh nose with some herby, strawberry fruit. The palate is savoury and fresh with herb-tinged taut fruit. Still tasting youthful with no sign of the wood. Very good+ 89/100 (05/04)

Niepoort Redoma Rosé 1999, Douro
Very small quantities of this, the inaugural vintage of the Redoma Rosé, were made. It's an unusual wine: a wonderful orange/red colour, it has a spicy, herby nose with a rather wild edge to it. On the palate it's a little bit spritzy and very spicy, with high acidity and a bit of tannin underneath. A full flavoured Rosé, good with food, but a little odd. The 2000 incarnation is a bit more mainstream, and a better wine in my opinion. Very good (05/01)

Redoma Branco and Branco Reserva

‘In the beginning I didn’t believe that the Douro had good terroir for white wines,’ recalls Dirk. ‘But eventually we found a 70 year old vineyard 400 metres high up where the grower was prepared to pick the three white varieties separately.’ This was in 1993 and it was potentially a bad vintage: there was lots of rain which resulted in dilution. Dirk asked the grower he’d contracted to pick everything separately by variety, but the grapes arrived all in one big container. But since then he’s never done anything separately, and has worked mostly with old vines, making a Reserva for the first time in 1995.

The altitude is important in the Douro for whites: at 400 m it is considerably cooler than the hot temperatures at river level. All Dirk’s whites are made from vineyards with 400–800 m elevation. Dirk has decided that he doesn’t like Malvasia Fina for table wines, and that Rabigato is one of his favourites—this forms the base of his whites. The Redoma Branco Reserva is usually made from three vineyards with a vine age of greater than 100 years. One of these vineyards has granitic soils. ‘I feel it is important: it shows the minerality of the schist in the blend a lot more,’ says Dirk. The whites are fermented and aged in barrels for 12 months with no racking. Yields in these old vineyards range from 5–25 hl/ha, which are very low. Malolactic is avoided to preserve the all important acidity. Since the inaugural vintage he’s shifted the style more to elegance and lightness.

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2009
Beautifully aromatic and precise on the nose: toast, nuts, minerals. The palate is fresh, nutty and precise with pear, peach, citrus and some minerality. Broad, long, expressive. 94/100 (10/10)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2009
Lovely expressive nose is ripe but fresh. The palate has nice, rich, bold pear fruit with some subtle nuttiness. Nicely rich yet still fresh. 90/100 (10/10)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2008
Lovely taut, mineral, grapefruit pith freshness to the nose. Intense and aromatic. The palate has depth and texture with some toasty richness. 93/100 (10/09)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2008
Very fine and persistent with minerality and fruit purity. Fresh, balanced and expressive. 91/100 (10/09)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2007
Subtly toasty nose with sweetness to the fruit. The palate is bright, dense and fruit with lovely focus and a subtle nutty vanilla edge. Really delicious with lots of potential for development. 93/100 (11/08)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2007
Very refined fresh mineralic nose is taut and rather intense. The palate is thick-textured yet fresh with lovely intensity of sweet fruit and well integrated oak. Great power, yet still elegant. 93/100 (06/08)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2007
Lovely focused nose showing bright, slightly nutty fruit with well integrated toasty oak. Bold palate is fresh and minerally with lovely dense fruit, some rich spicy oak and fresh acidity. Delicious. 92/100 (06/08)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2006
Lovely nose: fresh and elegant with a wonderful aromatic depth. The palate has a delicious texture: broad but with lovely freshness and subtle oak influence. Thrilling. 93/100 (10/07)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2006
Beautifully fresh zippy, minerally, lemony nose. The palate is quite rich and full with lovely nutty fruit and a rich texture. Fresh and light but concentrated at the same time. 92/100 (10/07)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2006
Lovely rich, pure fruit here with lemon notes and some subtle herbiness. Quite fresh with subtle oak influence and rounded texture. 91/100 (05/07)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2005
Smooth and intense with a creamy, toasty vanilla edge to the nose. The palate has concentration and depth with lovely freshness and minerality. Very sophisticated. 93/100 (05/07)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2005
Bright lemony nose is aromatic and precise with some toastiness. Waxy, weighty, lively palate is taut and complex with good acidity. It’s really alive. 92/100 (02/07)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2005 (cask sample)
Fresh, open primary nose. The palate is very primary with tight, fresh minerally fruit. Nice minerality here, and good acidity. There’s a sort of spicy edge to the fruit and this wine is in a fresh, elegant style. Lots of potential. Very good/excellent 91–93/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2004
Fantastic stuff: rich, bold, toasty and herby with a lovely minerally freshness to the palate. There’s great concentration here and lots of complexity, made in the style of a serious white Burgundy with well integrated oak. A brilliant wine that should evolve well. Very good/excellent 94/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2004
Made from three old vineyards at altitude. Predominantly Rabigato, but with some Viozinho, Donzelinho, Dodega and Arinto, as well as others, too. Really nice perfumed nose is rich, full, fruity and lemony with complex waxy notes. Really lovely densely textured palate is fruity and smooth with a nice herbiness and long, spicy, mineralic finish. Very good/excellent 94/100 (05/06)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2003
Rich, toasty nose is quite intense and very full, with a bit of minerality. The palate is rich textured and full with lots of fruit and good intensity. Nutty, minerally finish: potentially fantastic. Very good/excellent 92/100 (11/04)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 2003
Complex, elegant, intense nose is rich, toasty, smooth and very fine. The palate is smooth and concentrated  with a creamy, mineralic edge. Fantastic effort. Very good/excellent 94/100 (11/04)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2002
2002 is considered to be a bad year in the Douro, but some growers really did pick certain vineyards before the rains that plagued this harvest. That’s the case for this wine, which comes from 60–120-year old vineyards at high altitude. The wine is barrel-fermented and aged in barrique for 12 months. There’s a little bit of wood on the nose with lovely minerality: fresh and appealing with a slightly smoky, spicy edge. The palate is intense, savoury, minerally and spicy with good acidity. Very fresh and potentially long lived: I’d guess that this will be brilliant in a decade’s time. It’s already hard to resist. 93/100 (05/04)

Niepoort Redoma Branco 2001 Douro
Served blind, this was a ringer for a serious young white Burgundy. Very open rich toasty nose with savoury, bready, toasty intensity. The palate is concentrated with lemony fruit and well judged oak. Powerful with good acidity and minerality. Very good/excellent 92/100 (03/04)

Niepoort Redoma Branco Reserva 1997
Made from the Rabigato grape fermented in new French oak barrels. A richly textured white with an intense, nutty flavours. Very good. (05/00)

Old Garrafeiras in the Niepoort cellars


Vertente is positioned below the other reds, fashioned mainly from young vineyards and bought-in grapes. It’s sees a shorter time in wood and only 20% is aged in new barrels. Made from 15–60 year old vineyards, with quite a lot of Touriga Nacional and not as much Tinta Amarela as Dirk’s other wines. In making Vertente, Dirk wanted to make a wine with Douro character but which is approachable a bit earlier, and is fruitier and cheaper than the others. He wants to make a wine that is more consumer friendly than Redoma with a bit more fruit. ‘Still, I don’t want to make a commercial easy drinking wine.’ He hopes that with five years of age it will behave like a nice Claret.  

Niepoort Vertente 2008
Bright, fruity, vibrant, with nice cherry and berry fruit, as well as some spiciness. Hints of oak, with good acidity. Pure, classic style. 89/100 (10/10)

Niepoort Vertente 2007
Very lively, bright, sappy, berryish nose with freshness and purity of fruit. Lovely wine. 90/100 (10/09)

Niepoort Vertente 2006
Fresh, spicy, vivid nose with a bit of chocolatey richness. The palate is fresh with a spicy richness under the focused, smooth, ripe berryish fruit. A digestible, sweetly fruited red. 89/100 (06/08)

Niepoort Vertente 2005
Lovely pure bright cherryish fruit. The palate is vibrantly fruity and quite classy with fresh, bright fruit, a hint of vanilla sweetness and lovely spicy structure. Pure and fruit driven. 90/100 (05/07)

Niepoort Vertente 2005
Fresh withhigh acidity and focused pure fruit backed up by some spicy warmth and firm tannins. It’s a savoury, understated style. Quite fresh. 91/100 (10/07)

Niepoort Vertente 2004
Lovely bright fresh red fruits here with good acidity. A nice wine showing good concentration and freshness. Very good+ 89/100  (05/06)

Niepoort Vertente 2001
Nice savoury berry and cherry fruit with a hint of green herbiness. The palate shows vibrant berry fruits with great depth, some structure and an appealing savoury character. Lovely balance to the fruit and nice spicy finish: a delicious wine that could probably do with a few more years. Very good+ 89/100



A relatively new addition to the Niepoort stable, first made in 2004. Dirk says his objective is ‘to make Riesling without Riesling.’ It is made from old vine Codega, with the grapes being pressed immediately so there’s no maceration with the skins. No yeasts were added, so Dirk’s winemaker Luis Seabra got nervous with the 2004, because after over a week the must still hadn’t started fermenting. They added 5 litres of already-fermenting Redoma, and still things didn’t start going. In the end they added 15 litres, and fermentation began. In the end it took three months to complete. ‘Oxidising musts in white wine can be good,’ explains Dirk, ‘and can give complexity.’ The wine was removed from gross lees just before fermentation stopped, and before bottling it was filtered because there hadn’t been any malolactic. ‘The whole process has something to do with patience and nerve,’ he says. It’s the only white Niepoort wine that isn’t fermented in wood, and comes from a 100 year old vineyard at 600 metres. Low temperature fermentation.    

Niepoort Tiara 2009
Very aromatic and sweetly fruited with pure pear and apple fruit. The palate has nice breadth and lovely pure fruit. Expressive and quite rich. Lovely. 91/100 (10/10)

Niepoort Tiara 2008
Lovely fresh, bright, focused white with some minerality and a hint of nuttiness. Lovely. 90/100 (10/09)

Niepoort Tiara 2007
Fresh and aromatic with a crisp, slightly creamy edge to the nose, and some minerality. The palate has some breadth to it, but overall it is fresh fruity and bright with an attractive minerally finish. 89/100 (06/08)

Niepoort Tiara 2006
Lemony fresh nose. The palate is rich and fat with lovely texture, but also minerally freshness. A little sweetness here? Stylish wine. 90/100 (05/07)

Niepoort Tiara 2004
This has a fresh, crisp limey nose that is quite savoury. It’s a bit like a cross between a Riesling and a Vinho Verde. The palate is crisp and savoury, with good acidity. Fresh minerality and lots of focus and precision. 92/100 (05/05)



The name of Dirk’s first ever wine, this has been reborn, beginning with the 2004 vintage (released in late 2008). It’s the most expensive Niepoort table wine, and should age brilliantly.  

Niepoort Robsutus 2004
This is really coming together, with sweet, pure mineral and spice notes on the nose as well as black cherry fruit. The sweetly fruited palate shows huge concentration with mineral, earth and spice complexity and amazing tannic structure integrated brilliantly with the dense fruit. It's really putting on weight. 97/100 (10/09)

Niepoort Robustus 2004
A new release, named after the very first ever Niepoort table wine, an experiment dating back to 1990. This spent 18 months in barrel, then went to old wood. The 2005 has gone straight to old wood. Tight aromatic, spicy berry fruit nose. The palate is beautifully structured, dense and tight with a spicy edge to the fruit. A fresh, tannic wine with high acidity. Serious effort for the long haul, and I’d expect to rate this even higher in a few years’ time. 93/100 (11/08)

‘Drink Me’

An entry-level Niepoort wine made in larger volumes from brought–in grapes. It goes by different names in different European markets, and the distinctive feature is the clever label design, which features a different cartoon for each market.

Niepoort 'Drink Me' 2008
Fresh, bright, pure aromatic nose with nice cherry and berry fruit. The palate is fresh and cherryish with lovely pure fruit and a nice grippy finish. 90/100

Niepoort 'Drink Me' 2006 
Dark, spicy and a bit earthy with some cherry and blackberry fruit on the nose. The palate is savoury and dense with attractive earthy, spicy notes, as well as good acidity. Fresh and quite complex, with lots of personality (perhaps a hint of Brettanomyces, too, but it works well in the context of this wine, which is delicious). 89/100 (£10 Noble Green Wines, Fareham Wine Cellar, and other independents) 03/09


Website: www.niepoort-projectos.com

Niepoort ‘Projectos’ are small experimental projects, released in limited quantities. They are really interesting, verging on the slightly crazy—for example, Pinot Noir in the Douro?

Two Rieslings were released from the 2007 vintage, both made from the same 20 year old vineyard at 800 metres elevation. The first is dry, the second off-dry.

Niepoort Projectos Riesling 2007 Vinho Regional Duriense
Very fresh, bright and limey/citrussy on the nose. The palate is nicely dense and dry with lovely mineral citrus pith flavours. Tightwound, dense and fresh. 90/100 (11/08)

Niepoort Projectos Riesling ‘Dócil’ 2007 Vinho Regional Duriense
This is 8% alcohol with 50 g/litre residual sugar. Very fresh, appley citrus nose with some sweet notes. Lovely weight on the palate: pure and primary with sweet melon/citrus notes and a rich texture. Off dry, with lovely acidity. 91/100 (11/08)

Niepoort Projectos Pinot Noir 2006 Vinho Regional Duriense
A nine-year old vineyard planted at 12 000 vines/hectare, on a 300 m high north-facing plot. Harvested 26 August and fermented in wooden vats with 30% stems and the rest entire berries, with 70 days skin contact and malolactic in barrel. Sweet and super-elegant with lovely soft but forward cherry fruit, helped by some spicy structure. Light and expressive with subtle earthiness. Really interesting wine. 91/100 (11/08)

Niepoort Riesling 2003
Riesling in the Douro? You’d better believe it. Dirk bought these grapes from Cockburns, who planted an experimental vineyard some 15 years ago at 800 m altitude (high up where it’s cooler). This has lovely fresh definition on the nose with some CO2 evident. The palate shows high acid, minerality and lovely weight and texture – it’s got some rich sweetness, but it isn’t too big. (03/04)

Niepoort Voyeur 2006
This is a special edition wine for an art project (not one of the Projectos). It’s old vine fruit, foot-trodden with stems and aged in old barrels. Super-elegant style with aromatic berry and cherry fruit with a lifted spiciness. The palate is smooth and elegant with a delicate earthy, spicy ‘terroir’ quality under the fruit. Light, delicate and delicious. 94/100 (11/08)  


This is a joint project with Alvaro Castro of the Dão, and it's a half Douro, half Dão wine. This is written up separately, here

Wines tasted in month/year indicated  
Find these wines with

Back to top