Niepoort, featuring Redoma
latest of the series of Dirk Niepoort dinners was held at Bentley’s
Oyster Bar and Grill, in Swallow Street near Piccadilly. The focus was
on Redoma, the mainstay of the Niepoort portfolio of table wines, made
since 1991, joined by Batuta with the 1999 vintage and more recently
Charme and Vertente. ‘Redoma is an important wine for Niepoort’,
says Dirk. ‘It is the backbone of the Niepoort range, and also the
most individualistic wine’. While Batuta tilts its hat at fine
Bordeaux and Charme pays homage to Burgundy, Redoma, in its wildness,
is unashamedly Douro.
began with the Rosé 2005, a tank sample of the final blend. ‘You
can see from the colour that this is an unusual rosé’, says Dirk.
Fermentation is in new french oak (conditioning the barrels, no
doubt), with free run juice from lagares. As well as saignée,
there’s some 40% of grapes picked early dedicated to the rosé, and
a bit of skin contact.
Redoma Rosé 2005
pink/purple colour. Spicy, woody nose is quite powerful, but there’s
freshness here. Elegant high acid palate showing some new oak
structural elements. Bold stuff, rich and spicy. Lots of interest
here. This is a great food wine. Very good+ 89/100
up, the Redoma Branco Reserva in two vintages. This is, for me, one of
Dirk’s most profound wines, year in, year out. It’s made from old
vine vineyards at elevations from 400 to 800 metres. 1993 was the
first year for his white Douro wine, and it was potentially a bad one.
There was lots of rain which resulted in dilution. Dirk asked the
grower he’d contracted to pick everything separately by variety, but
the grapes arrived all in one big container. But since then he’s
never done anything separately, and has worked mostly with old vines,
making a Reserva for the first time in 1995. Since then he’s shifted
the style more to elegance and lightness. The objective is to work
with vineyards as high as possible, and most of the wine is now
sourced from three vineyards over 100 years old with 12–15
varieties, mainly Rabigato. The wine is barrel fermented, but there is
no malolactic fermentation, important for retaining freshness.
Redoma Branco Reserva 2004
stuff: rich, bold, toasty and herby with a lovely minerally freshness
to the palate. There’s great concentration here and lots of
complexity, made in the style of a serious white Burgundy with well
integrated oak. A brilliant wine that should evolve well. Very
Redoma Branco Reserva 2005 (cask sample)
open primary nose. The palate is very primary with tight, fresh
minerally fruit. Nice minerality here, and good acidity. There’s a
sort of spicy edge to the fruit and this wine is in a fresh, elegant
style. Lots of potential. Very good/excellent 91–93/100
we moved to Redoma reds, beginning with Dirk’s very first red wine.
Robustus is an important wine in the history of Douro reds, simply
because it is Dirk Niepoort’s first foray into winemaking, and
because he is now perhaps the best known and influential advocate and
maker of Douro table wines.
1990 was an experiment made with grapes from Quinta do Carril, which
was planted in 1925. Carril has a mixture of many varieties,
predominantly Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela, and is
now the source of Batuta. Significantly, it is north facing. ‘It’s
the first time I made wines from Carril’, says Dirk. ‘Over the
years I had come to the conclusion that south-facing vineyards were
best for Port, but for making great red wine you need more even
ripening. In north-facing vineyards you don’t have direct sun so you
don’t have burnt characters or heaviness’. He adds that because of
more even ripening, in the Douro with its hot summers north-facing
vineyards often result in wines with more alcohol because in the
south-facing spots maturity stops.
I started making wine I had a dream of making an elegant wine’, he
reveals. ‘But Robustus 1990 was a monster: overextracted, dark,
strange—too much’. Indeed, there seems to be a parallel here with
Australia’s most famous table wine, Grange. When Max Schubert first
made the wine in 1951, in an era where fortified wine was dominant, it
was derided—to the extent that he had to take the project
underground. Dirk’s first wine met with a poor reception from his
father, who thought so badly of it that he sold the majority of it off
while Dirk was in Australia in 1991. Of the initial five pipes, just
one was left, which made a production of 630 bottles and 45 magnums.
reveals how he served the Robustus to Michael Broadbent, who described
it as the Latour of Portugal. Dirk’s father, Rolf, responded saying
that it was disgusting and smelled of new wood. Dirk countered by
saying that it was never in new wood. Michael says, ‘Rolf, it’s
really good’. Rolf says, ‘It smells of shit’. Then they opened
some 1945s and the evening went well from there.
Dirk was convinced of the potential of the wine. ‘This is a wine
region with 2000 years of tradition, but 1950 years of bad
winemaking’, he says. ‘For the last 200 years the wine side has
been mistreated because Port has been the focus. From 1990–2000
wines developed quite slowly, but from 2001 onwards there has been a
dramatic change: we are living through a revolution’.
Robustus, Dirk says ‘I am very proud of it’, and says that despite
the mistakes he made, he thinks it is amazing how good it tastes.
dark colour. Exotic, spicy, medicinal nose is complex with some dark
chocolate notes and nice full red and black fruits. The palate is
dense and spicy with lovely acidity. It’s quite bold and full, and
surprisingly youthfull still, with crunchy, dusty, spicy tannic
structure. Rustic, but in a nice way: a delicious wine drinking well.
Very good/excellent 92/100
carried on the Redoma theme by tasting three vintages: the 1999, 2001
and 2004. These show the continuing evolution of style of Redoma,
which first really hit its stride in 1999, but then continued,
reaching perhaps what is the peak with 2001 and 2004. 1999 was an
important vintage, because this is when Niepoort decided to major on
table wines, and hired a winemaker and bought new barrels. He
describes 1999 as a monster wine: big, alcoholic and impressive. He
thinks 2001 is the best: this is where Redoma should be. ‘Redoma
should show the wildness of the Douro: harshness, edges, not most
polished’, says Dirk, ‘but I don’t want it to be jammy’.
slightly meaty dark fruits nose with nice smoothness and spiciness.
The palate is open, meaty and spicy with smooth sweet dark fruits and
a hint of olive. Nice spicy tannic bite. It’s made in quite a modern
style but has attractive sleek darkly fruited expression. Very
spicy, chocolatey fruit nose countered by lovely fresh spiciness. The
palate is bold and dense but fresh at the same time, with good acid
and a nice tight spiciness. A really lovely expressive wine with great
potential. Very good/excellent 93/100
pure, chocolatey, sweet dark fruits nose. The palate is smooth with
sweet dark fruits and also an earthy, spicy complexity. Nice freshness
combines well with richness. A really nice presice wine. Very
evening finished with some ports: the impressive Junior Tinto and
Senior Tawny, which are inexpensive but quite serious: required
drinking if you want to get a good idea of the two rather different
sides of Port. Then it was on to the rather serious LBV 2001, which is
lovely, finishing with the expressive Colheita 1994. Another
remarkable evening, and great fun to boot.
Wines tasted 06/06
these wines with wine-searcher.com
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