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A weekend in Porto... continued

I 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. Part 3, Sunday lunch is here. After lunch, John Crook and I decided to wander the streets of Porto, giving Dirk some space before we descended on him for dinner, along with Swiss winewriter Chandra Kurt. It was a nice, low key event where we enjoyed Dirk's superb cooking with an unusual but lovely selection of wines. 

Rudi Pichler Grüner Veltliner 2002 Wachau, Austria
Fresh and minerally with good acid and a subtle, peppery spicy edge. Very fresh. Very good+ 89/100

Dr Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1998 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany
Very fresh limey, piercing nose with a broad palate that displays rich fruit. The finish is quite spicy. Very appealing. Very good/excellent 92/100

Buçaco Tinto Reserva 1985 Beiras, Portugal
This famous wine (pictured right) comes from the Palace Hotel do Buçaco, and is a traditional and extremely long-lived blend of Bairrada and Dão that is only available to guests dining at the hotel restaurant. But Dirk has some. I was served this blind by John Crook, who spotted it in Dirk's cellar, and these are the notes I wrote: Distinctive, herby, rich spicy nose, savoury and quite evolved. The palate is savoury - very earthy and leathery. Good concentration. It's like a Chateauneuf du Pape with quite a bit of age. Very good/excellent 91/100

Domaine Gramenon 2001 Côtes du Rhône 
Very unusual sweet, rounded, spicy herby nose with some pronounced animal notes. The palate is ripe, rich, spicy and intense. On one level it's quite delicious, but on another it's a bit flawed. Am I making sense? Very good+ 88/100

Dado 2000 Beiras, Portugal
Dado is an unusual cross-appellation project. It's a collaboration between Dirk and Alvaro Castro of the Dão, and is a couple of barrels of Dão (old vine fruit from Quinta de Saes) wine mixed with a couple of Douro, hence Dado. Dirk was keen to replicate an old style of wine that used to be blended in this way some years ago, and 2000 is the first vintage. It is deep coloured, displaying a nose of spicy fruit with a hint of vanilla. The palate is savoury, chewy, tannic and spicy, with smooth yet firm structure. Quite tight now but lovely fruit quality. Good acidity is the key here. 2001, which I have since tasted, is quite different. Very good/excellent 92/100

Gomes Madeira Bual 1860
This was served blind. Very unusual waxy, coconutty nose with a rubbery edge. Powerful palate with lots of savoury, intense flavours, high acidity and a spicy, slightly raisined finish. Very complex with a dry finish, although it's slightly odd. 'It's a '60', says Dirk, and then he adds 'that's 1860'. Very good/excellent 92/100

The next wine is a bit of an oddity, from Dirk's birth year of 1964. Sweet, rich, spicy and soft with woody richness, it's 1964 Vino Liquoroso Rosso from Ansaldo Sciactrac, which is all I know about this sweet Italian wine. Back to the 19th century for the final wine, which was very special, and garners the joint highest rating I've given to a wine ever. Unfortunately, though, I could only decipher some of the name of the producer. Great Madeira is unique among wines in that it really does need about a century to reach its peak!

JR Tiex..... 1863 Bual Madeira
This wine was purchased in demijohn by Alex Lidell, who then bottled it. It's been in bottle for around 10 years. Lovely expressive nose with high acidity, and intense herby, waxy notes. Very clean for such an old wine. The palate is lovely and spicy, rich complex and firm, with some raisin and spice notes. High acidity and amazing length, a truly brilliant wine. Excellent 97/100

see also: weekend in Porto part 1, part 2, part 3 and Dinner with Dirk Niepoort 1 and 2.

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