Dirk Niepoort is in town, so yesterday we arranged to have lunch at Kitchen W8. It’s been a while since I caught up with Mr Niepoort, who is one of my top wine heroes. He brought along his new Bairrada wine, Poeirinho, and also a small bottle containing a mystery wine: it turned out to be a Madeira from 1795, which is by some distance (20 years) the oldest wine I have consumed.
As an aside, Kitchen W8 is an exceptional restaurant. It was my first time here, and the food was superb. The wine list is good but not great and could do with a bit of work. Service was spot on. It’s owned by Philip Howard, the chef and co-owner (with Nigel Platts Martin) of The Square. It has a Michelin star, but it could, I reckon, get two on yesterday’s showing.
Poeirinho Baga 2012 Bairrada, Portugal
It says 12% on the label, but this is actually 11.6% alcohol. It’s made from Dirk Niepoort’s two vineyards in the region, plus bought in grapes. The Niepoort vineyards are over 80 years old, and the youngest brought in grapes are from 100 year old vines. Half is made in lagares with an average of about 60% stems, and the other half has longer maceration with around 15% stems. The wine is aged in old barrels of 2500 litres, and 15 000 litres were made, of which only half has been bottled so far. Amazingly fresh and lively with intense, vibrant red cherry and blackberry fruit. Really focused with nice tannic structure, as you’d expect from Baga. Pure, linear and super fine, a wine that speaks of its terroirs. Dirk reckons that Bairrada has the best terroirs in Portugal. He says this wine is ‘exactly what my dream was about, except it is a lot better than I expected.’ 95/100
In this glass, an unnamed Madeira from the 1795 vintage! Amazingly intense, spicy and powerful with great acidity. Complex notes of raisins, citrus peel, some herbs, leather and earth. Profound and multidimensional, this doesn’t have any of the slightly deviant flavours that extremely old wines sometimes do. Scoring it is silly, but I’d give it 98/100. Remarkable.
Find this wine with wine-searcher.com