weekend in Porto... continued
recently spent a weekend in Porto with Douro winemaker Dirk Niepoort.
A number of us were gathered to celebrate his 40th
, and for most
of us the wines we had over these three days represented the best part
of a year's worth of drinking experiences all crammed into a weekend.
I took notes on almost everything, and I'm reproducing them here for
the sake of the record.
Part 1, Friday can
be found here, and part 2, Saturday here.
On Sunday (March 14 2004) we had the morning to recover and then met
for lunch at the restaurant À
mesa com Bacchus, which is near the waterfront not far from the
Carlton Oporto. Before lunch we started with some Niepoort
Niepoort Riesling 2003 Douro, Portugal
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.
Pinot Noir in the Douro? Yes, as well as
Riesling, Dirk’s been making some Pinot Noir. This time its from his
own vines. He planted a hectare of Pinot Noir vines on a north-facing
vineyard next to his Quinta do Carril at 300 m. The vines are planted
at a high density of 12 000 per hectare, and in 2003 he made 1 barrel
of Pinot Noir and 1.5 barrels of a Pinot Noir–Rufete blend. The
yields were a miserly 3 hl/hectare.
Niepoort Pinot Noir 2003 Douro
Dirk says this is Australian style, and almost a bit jammy on its
own. Quite bright herby, spicy nose showing lovely dark fruits. The
palate displays lots of concentration and a rich, savoury tannic
structure. It’s deep coloured and intense – very bold. Very
Niepoort Pinot Noir/Rufete 2003 Douro
Pinot Noir coming in at 19 degrees of potential alcohol was
blended in the lagar with Rufete at 11 degrees alcohol. This wine has
a rich, ripe, elegant nose with intense perfumed berry fruit and some
chocolatey richness. Wonderfully rich, elegant palate with smooth
fine-grained tannins. This is sensationally good. Excellent 96/100
Niepoort, Pinot Noir 2003 Douro
This third Pinot is a blend of the two above. It has a lovely
intense perfumed nose with bright berry, cherry and raspberry fruit.
Elegant with a savoury intensity. The palate is elegant and dense with
taut wound fruit. Bold but elegant. Excellent 95/100
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
(of Quinta do Infantado, left) and Luis Antunes (right), with
the restaurant proprietor in the middle and Dorli Muhr's
(Dirk's wife) head in the foreground.
Quinta de la Rosa Branco 2001 Douro
Served blind. Distinctive nutty waxy nose leads to a firm palate
with high acidity and nice minerality. A firm savoury white with lots
of personality. Very good+ 88/100
Niepoort Charme 2002 Douro
Deep coloured. Roasted edge to the nose with lots of taut berry
fruit and some vanilla. The palate is concentrated and spicy with some
roasted notes, a fair bit of elegance and firm tannins. Youthful but
with wonderful structure and lovely acidity. Very fine. Excellent
Valdunes 2000 Ribera del Duero
Tasted blind. Very sweet ripe blackcurrant fruit nose with some
nice spiciness and a hint of lifted minerality. Seamless. The palate
shows some evolution, but still displays lots of ripe fruit with an
elegant earthy, leathery edge. Very savoury with an earthy finish.
Very good/excellent 93/100
Encostas do Tua Reserva 2000 Douro
Tasted blind. Taut herby, leathery nose. The palate is dense and
savoury with high acidity and firm cherry spicy fruit. Herbiness here
too. Very good+ 88/100
Quinta do Infantado Vintage 1999 Douro
Very rich herby, leathery fruit with some real complexity. Taut
and quite savoury on the palate with some lovely herby character.
Tasty stuff. Very good/excellent 92/100
lunch, John Crook and I decided to wander the streets of Porto, giving
Dirk some space before we descended on him for dinner. It's a lovely
city to stroll through and the time flew by.
also: weekend in Porto part 1, part
2 and Dinner with Dirk Niepoort 1
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