The next night it was back to Matosinhos, the Port area of Porto, where the seafood restaurants are congregated. We went to Esplanada Marisqueira, a rather grand establishment, with Vitor Bento, Teresa Bento, Alfonso Bento, Dirk Niepoort and Nina Gruntkowski (Dirk’s wife, who also runs a tea company).
The food here is excellent. We started with shrimp, followed up with amazing sea urchins, and also had some beautiful sea bass – simply prepared with nothing added. The wines were quite something, too.
Soalheiro Alvarinho Primeras Vinhas 2017 Vinho Verde, Portugal
Soalheiro rarely disappoint. Very fresh and linear with lovely pure citrus fruit. Some hints of nectarine and pear, too. Bright with good precision and delicacy, this is lovely. 94/100
The second wine, served blind, was an unnamed white Bairrada from 1995 made by Dirk Niepoort at Quinta das Bageiras. This is old and lemony with real delicacy. Fine minerals with some citrus, and a touch of honey. Concentrated and refined with some warmth. 95/100
Viña Tondonia 6 Año Branco, Rioja
This isn’t labelled with a vintage but it is from 1968. It’s a truly remarkable wine at age 50. Golden colour. Such harmony here: aromas of nuts and honey with some subtle spiciness. Really fine and mineral on the palate with textured lemony fruit. Harmonious and profound. 97/100
Testalongo El Bandito Cortez 2016 Swartland, South Africa
Great to be able to bring the Swartland to Porto, and Craig Hawkins has worked with Dirk before on the Carnuntum project in Austria. Very delicate and fine with citrus, herb and pear notes. Some nice pear skin notes with a hint of green tea. Fine and expressive. 93/100
Niepoort Colheita 1997 Douro, Portugal
Smooth, sweet and finely spiced with some raisin, spice and treacle notes. Fine, expressive and harmonious. 94/100