Douro wine revolution
Part 3: In Porto
As well as a multicourse menu prepared expertly by
Dirk, we tasted 11 wines, all served blind. Most of these came from
Dirkís own cellar, although others of us also made the odd
contribution. It was an interesting, enjoyable evening, and Ray and I
didnít get back to the hotel we were staying at until the early
|On arriving in Porto, I headed out to the suburb of Freixo,
to Dirk Niepoortís parentsí apartment (his own house is currently
being renovated Ė a rather grand and long-term project by the sound
of things). Itís a pleasant part of town, and the spacious
third-floor apartment had views of the Douro. Dirk had gathered an
interesting crowd of wine people: the guest list included Jorge
Moriera (winemaker at Real Compania Velha), TomŠs Roquette (Quinta do
Crasto), Ray Isle (US wine journalist) and Fernando Melo (Portuguese
The view over the Douro from
Porto old town
Dirk in full flow
||Wine 1 Deep gold colour.
This has an amazing, very unusual complex nose of sweet lime cordial,
with some floral elements. The palate is very soft and lush with rich
texture and quite low acidity. Initially comes across as quite sweet.
A really interesting wine, Iím completely unsure as to its identity:
my guess is an old Mosel Riesling Auslese. Very good/excellent. Itís
actually Paul Blanck GewŁrztraminer Furstentum 1983 Reserve
Wine 2 Deep yellow/gold
colour. Quite a rich oatmealy, butterscotch-edged nose with a spicy
character. Very rich palate with a nutty, full texture. Quite mature,
this is quite a complex white Burgundy, but thatís as close as I can
get. Very good+ Itís Comtes Lafon Mersault GenevriŤres 1er Cru
|Wine 3 Yellow/gold colour.
Rich, toasty nose with some oak evident. Quite a tight minerally
palate with good acid and a toasty, lemony edge. Nice minerality here
and good concentration, but not quite all together. Very good+ Itís Olivier
Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles 1993, Burgundy
This is a lovely
old Pinot Noir. Quite tight, spicy leathery/earthy nose. The palate
has lovely balance, good acidity and sweet herby characters along with
firm, dry tannins. Quite evolved. Very good/excellent. Itís Leroy
Savigny Les Beaune ĎLes SerpentiŤresí 1979, Burgundy
Inside the Niepoort Lodge
Wine 5 Deep coloured.
Intriguing spicy, earthy, slightly meaty nose with rich, sweet
medicinal elements. The palate is quite wild, initially showing quite
a severe medicinal nature with lots of tannic structure. In the glass
it opens out to show rich spicy, balsamic complexity. Quite brilliant,
in a robust sort of way. Excellent. Itís Scarpa Barbaresco ĎI
tetti di Nieveí 1978, Piedmont, Italy
Wine 6 [A slightly more
humble offering, this is one of the wines I brought along, so for me
it wasnít blind. The same applies to wine number 7] Deep coloured.
Really rich forward nose of green olives and meaty berry fruits.
Palate is rich, full and very savoury. Firm tannins.
Very good/excellent. Itís Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage
1998, Northern RhŰne, France
Wine 7 Lovely focused
nose of spice, herbs and just a touch of animal-like character. Warm
and spicy. The concentrated palate is leathery and spicy with plenty
of firm tannin. Youthful. Lovely stuff with a bright future ahead of
it. Archetypal Bandol. Excellent. Itís Domaine Grosí Norť
Bandol 1998, Provence, France
Wine 8 Deep coloured.
Really attractive nose of rich, herby cherry fruit with a liquoricey
edge. The palate is rich and quite modern with a bit of spicy wood and
nice acidity. An interesting, forward interpretation of Pinot Noir.
Very good+ Itís Chelalem Pinot Noir ĎRioní Reserve 1999,
Wine 9 Quite mature, with
a leathery, herby nose. Beginning to dry out a bit on the palate.
Mature, leathery, savoury and tight: showing some age. Itís Quinta
do Mouro 1996, Alentejo
10 Not served blind, this is Jorge Moreiraís own wine, Poeira.
Itís the inaugural vintage, 2001, and it comes from a 4 ha vineyard
at his property Terrafeita de Cima in the Douro. Itís a cask sample;
altogether some 10 000 bottles will be produced. Deep coloured, this
is a lovely rich, spicy wine with good concentration. It shows a good
deal of elegance with its herby complexity and firm, spicy tannins.
Wine 11 By this time my
note-taking capacity was falling off. We finished with 1990 Quinta do
Vesuvio port. All I noted was that this was quite well structured
still. What do you expect?
||The following morning Ray and I met Dirk for breakfast and
then, after watching Brazil play Turkey in the world cup, we headed
over to the Niepoort lodge at Vila Nova de Gaia. Itís a remarkable
place, reeking of history and full of atmosphere. Lots of old barrels
and cobwebs, but fascinating. We didnít taste much here, and after a
quick nose around there was time to grab a quick lunch (barnacles and
shrimps in a seafood bar) before Dirk put me on the train for the
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