Red wine Barrel. 13 months in French oak barrels. Winery: Niepoort. D.O. Ribeira Sacra. (Galicia) Coupage: Garnacha Tintorera, Alicante and Mencía.
Since 1848, and until now, five generations of winemakers have been managing the winery, from Franciscus Marius van der Niepoort, to the siblings Eduard Dirk and Verena Niepoort, who are currently in charge. Dirk’s first important step in the company was the purchase of his own vineyards at the end of 1988: Quinta de Nápoles and Quinta do Carril in Cima Corgo, a region that traditionally makes the best Port wines. Here, they planted 15 hectares of vineyards, and they recovered 10 hectares of 60-year-old vines. Dirk’s passion for wine and the humble respect and curiosity for the terroir of Douro, have defined Niepoort’s current spirit for the last two decades, and they are the constant inspiration of the winery. In 2007, the concluded the works of the new winery in Quinta de Nápoles, Cima Corgo, where they vinify all their Niepoort dry wines, and where they continue with the natural stomping of 40% of the grapes in presses. All the ageing warehouses are located in Serpa Pinto, Vila Nova de Gaia, in their historic winery.
Another of the important figures in the world of Porto wines are the so-called Master Blenders. And in this case, the Niepoort family is linked to the Nogueira family since its origins, when José Nogueira was the fourth member of his family to become dedicated to his art in Niepoort. After working in the company for over 50 years, his son, José Rodrigo, joined the team in September 2006. They worked together until 2011, and today it is the fifth generation of the Nogueira family in Niepoort.
History of the wineries
At the wineries of Vila Nova de Gaia they store, blend, age, and bottle, label and transport Port wine. Surrounded by many other Port wineries, the warehouse on the Serpa Pinto street is the magical space where the old Niepoort wines can be found in old barrels, casks, demijohns, bottles, etc. It was here where all the work carried out by Niepoort unfolded until March 2007. However, due to space and logistics, Niepoort’s headquarters and the main warehouse were established in Rua Cândido dos Reis, which has enabled them to grow and improve the processes.
In 1987, Niepoort bought the farm of Nápoles, which includes around 30 hectares of vineyards. It is here where they made white, red and rosé wines of Douro. A few years later, in 2003, Niepoort bought the old Lagares museum, in Vale Mendiz, and today it is the production centre for Niepoort’s Port wines. The separation into two production centres is intentional. This allows Niepoort to carry out the processes, dedicated and optimised, for the Port and Duero wines. The building in the production areas of Nápoles are set up in a reasoned way to integrate the large building into the landscape. The initial idea was to build an invisible construction. The winery is located on the top of a hill, overlooking the river and with a magnificent view of the valley. To integrate the winery into the landscape, the main part of the building is a basement. The external walls are covered with natural stone (slate), which is the traditional material of the area used for the retention walls of terraces.
The idea is, minimum materials, minimum details. The entire building —walls, floors and ceilings— are built with architectural concrete. The metallic parts are made of Corten steel. According to the wine production process, the grapes are received through the top part of the building to prevent pumping. Are the floors are connected with a lift. The building has a low-energy consumption pattern, which is necessary since the temperature of all storage compartments needs to be kept at 15ºC throughout the year. The tasting room opens onto a large patio, with a steel cantilevered terrace that has views of the old building.
However, the new Niepoort generation has led them to explore different regions to create increasingly elegant, fine wines, with good levels of acidity. This is why they have agreements with other viticulturers from Portugal, Galicia and Castilla y León. For example, in the sub-area of Basto they have 3 hectares of vineyards planted with Aversión, Azal and Arinto. In the sub-area of Sousa, they have around 1.5 hectares of Albariño and Aversión, but they are also recovering old vineyards to preserve the regional tradition of production of red wine in the region of Vinho Verde.
On another note, the importance of interpreting the varieties of soil, climate and grapes, has led them down the path to biodynamics to find balance between biodiversity and the least invasive intervention possible.
Wines from Niepoort
The winery produced around 45,000 boxes a year, between Tawnies, Colheitas, Garrafeiras, LBV and Vintages, so each family markets several harvests. They also produce a wide variety of Douro wines without fortification, and in the last few years, Niepoort is also making wines from other soils and climates. This is why they acquired two properties in the regions of Dão and Bairrada, forming the triangle that expresses the three different terroirs. They have a wide collection of white, rosé, red and some sparkling wines, from parcelled vineyards, with specific varieties and a very short production process in the bottles. However, despite the wide range of wines without fortification that the winery makes in these three areas, it is worth highlighting the so-called “Proyectos Vinos”, which is a collection of wines made in partnership with other producers such as Doda with Álvaro de Castro in the region of Dão; OmLet, made in Douro by Telmo Rodríguez; Ultreia, produced in Douro by Raúl Pérez or Ladredo de Ribera Sacra with the Guímaro family; also the Muhr van der Niepoort wines produced in Austria in collaboration with Dorli Muhr, Cape Charme and Cape Fortified produced in South Africa with Eben, among others. Of all of them, worth highlighting is the joint venture between Dirk Niepoort and some Spanish producers, both in the Portuguese Douro and in some Spanish regions.
Below is a list of the wines produced by the winery Niepoort:
Calderera Tinto is created from the collaboration between Raúl Pérez and Niepoort in the lands of El Bierzo. It is made with the local Mencía variety from different areas and soils, some vineyards planted on slate and some on sand, and a small amount of clay. On the nose, it is floral with notes of liquorice and some balsamic camphor and earthen notes. In the mouth, it is medium-bodied, with sophisticated tannins, good freshness and persistence.
Calderera Blanco is made with Godello grapes. This wine has fermented and remained in 2,000-litre foudres for 2 years, and 20% has been aged in amphorae.
Ladredo is made by Niepoort in vineyards of Ribeira Sacra with the Guímaro family. It is born from a vineyard in the sub-area of Amandi, planted after 1940 with a significant proportion of Red Grenache (30%) and Mencía, along with other minority varieties.
It ferments in 2,000-litre oak vats and ages in used barrels. On the nose, it is balsamic, with notes of aromatic herbs, black pepper, blue fruit and some notes of malt mixed with flowers. It has a medium body, with very fine tannins and a very good acidity.
Ultreia Douro is born from the collaboration between Raúl Pérez and Dirk Niepoort in the Portuguese Douro. It is made from 60-year-old vines, with the prevailing red variety Amarela. It ferments 100% with the stems, and macerates between 2 and 3 months without temperature control. This wine is aged for 12 months in used barrels.
Navazos Niepoort is born form the experience of Dirk Niepoort and Equipo Navazos in Jeréz. It is made with grapes of Palomino Fino from one of the historic albariza vineyards, specifically from the farm Pago Macharnudo Alto. It has been produced following the strictest criteria of the best production techniques of two centuries ago, with the grapes fermenting in butts with local yeasts, and then ageing for 5 months in barrels under the yeast cap.
OmLet is a Niepoort wine made by Telmo Rodríguez in Douro. This wine comes from vineyards that are over 60 years old, planted at more than 500 metres of altitude, with plantations of Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, with a good amount of Sousão and Alicante Bouschet. The ageing and the fermentation take place in 228-litre French oak barrels for 22 months. It has notes of wild fruit, some notes of leather and spices, well integrated with its mineral character. In the mouth, it is quite concentrated, deep, with very silky and delicate tannins. It has a strong, complex structure, with a rich and long aftertaste. This wine has ageing potential, which will benefit from its stay in the bottle.
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