What really excites me about wine is its dynamic nature – its mutability according to variety, site, vintage, winemaking technique and age among other factors. How do so many winemakers resist the lure of working with other varieties, sites or regions?
Most definitely not to be counted amongst their number is fifth generation Port producer Dirk Niepoort of Niepoort, who set the tone when he strayed from the path of Port and started also to make Niepoort’s first table wines in the nineties. The core range, Batuta, Charme, Redoma and Vertente, are focused around native grapes from the Douro’s aged mixed varietal vineyards.
Since then, in cahoots with right hand man Luis Seabra, Niepoort has well and truly extended his range through Niepoort Projectos. Single varietal Vinho Regional (Trás-os-Montes/Duriense) wines from the Douro include a Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Bastardo. Douro red blends Omlet and Ultreia are made in conjunction with Spain’s Telmo Rodriguez and Raúl Peréz respectively. And Niepoort himself makes wine abroad in Spain (Navazos-Niepoort from Jerez and Niepoort Ladredo from Ribeira Sacra) and in Austria (Muhr-van der Niepoort from Carnuntum).
As you might expect, the wines are as exciting as they are accomplished, especially Niepoort Ladredo, one of my January Wines of the Month, indeed a highlight of last year’s tasting calendar. Click here for my Portugal Regional Report page where you’ll find my cumulative notes on two Niepoort Projectos tastings presented by Dirk Niepoort last October (25th) and November (6th).