weekend in Porto
recently spent a weekend in Porto with Douro winemaker Dirk Niepoort.
A number of us were gathered to celebrate his 40th
, and for most
of us the wines we had over these three days represented the best part
of a year's worth of drinking experiences all crammed into a weekend.
I took notes on almost everything, and I'm reproducing them here for
the sake of the record. In this first part, I've written up the wines
tasted on the first day. (Part 2, Saturday, is here;
part 3, Sunday lunch is here; and
part 4, Sunday evening is here).
We began with
lunch on Friday 12th March, at a wonderful fish restaurant hidden away
near the dock area. With our sea bass, shrimps and barnacles, the five
gathered so far had two wines - a gentle start.
Kirchenstück Riesling Trocken 2001 Pfalz, Germany
Markus Schneider, the winemaker was with us. Quite full and rich
with nice spicy, rounded character, ripe fruit and a hint of residual
sugar (3.2 g/l). Tasty stuff with good concentration in quite a rich
style. Very good/excellent 91/100
Leroy Puligny Montrachet Les Folatières 1997 Burgundy
One of the most profound and fullest flavoured white Burgundies
I’ve had in a long time. Sensational. Deep yellow–gold colour.
Broad nose with lovely crisp lemony notes at one end and intense,
broad nutty toastiness at the other with just a hint of cabbagey
complexity. The toasty palate shows great concentration and
complexity. Excellent 96/100
before dinner at Dirk's house, a small tasting down in his cellar.
Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2001 Pauillac, Bordeaux
Quite a classic Claret nose with some restrained dark fruits
backed up with chalky, green cedary notes. The palate is firm, tight
and structured with firm tannins. Youthful and tight. Very
Batuta 2001 Douro
Perfumed chocolatey, spicy nose with some roasted notes and taut
dark fruits. There’s a lovely tight, rounded spicy structure to the
palate which has more of that roasted edge and a spicy finish. Dense,
taut and concentrated this is a young wine with a lot of potential.
Refreshingly this is only 12.8% alcohol. Very good/excellent 94/100
Batuta 2000 Douro
Tight herby nose is a little shy. The palate is dense, taut, spicy
and herby with great concentration of fruit and a firm structure,
together with vibrant acidity. It’s got great structure but
presently it is at a bit of an awkward stage in its development. Very
Batuta 1999 Douro
A little shy on the nose initially, this opens out to show ripe
red and black fruits with a savoury spicy edge. The palate shows
chewy, spicy fruit with great structure and super balance. Lots of
personality here. Good acidity underlying the vivid fruit. Very
great potential for development for all three Batuta's, although the
2000 is for me a little behind the other two in terms of absolute
we turned to some elderly Germans. The first, a 1959 Riesling
Spatelese from Gillot in the Rheinhessen hadn’t made it to the
party, and tasted of a blend of Oloroso sherry and Madeira. The others
all had some interest.
Mauer Eltviller Sonnenberg Riesling Auslese 1964 Rheingau
Spicy, enticing rounded nose with bright grapefruit and lime,
together with a sweet fudgy caramel character in the background.
There’s some petrol here, too. The palate has lovely lively acidity
and a rich texture. Drinking well now with a nice spicy finish. Quite
a bit of botrytis. Very good/excellent 92/100
Grover Engelberg Riesling 1947 Mosel Saar Ruwer
Yellow–gold colour. Waxy, limey nose is gently spicy. The palate
is lively with good acid and an interesting waxy character. The high
acidity has kept this very fresh. Very good/excellent 90/100
Trautwein Muller Thurgau Niersteiner Fritzenhölle 1969 Rheinhessen
Orange gold colour. Striking, rather weird nose of sweet herbs and
caramel with waxy undertones. Unusual herby, waxy palate. Odd but
interesting. Very good 83/100
Faust Riesling Piesporter Günterslay 1964 Mosel Saar Ruwer
Bright limey nose is fresh. High acid palate is youthful tasting,
but while this is enjoyable it’s a little simpler than you’d
expect from a 40 year old wine. Very good+ 88/100
was a splendid multicourse array with some 20 invitees, including
merchants, winemakers, wine writers and an American couple who
happened to be passing through.
de Feitoria Três Bagos Sauvignon Blanc 2003 Tras os Montes
Intense grassy, grapefruit and gooseberry nose leads to a palate
showing crisp, fresh fruit. Very lively and modern, this is a good
wine but it could have come from anywhere. Tasted again two days later
there’s a lovely herbiness emerging – bear in mind that this wine
had only been bottled a couple of weeks before. So perhaps I was being
a little hard on this. Very good+ 88/100
Montrachet 1995 (magnum)
From the world’s most famous white wine vineyard and a serious
producer, expectations were high for this. It showed very well, but
perhaps a few more years age are required for it to perform to its
potential. It displays a tight nose is refined with nutty, lemony
notes. The palate is elegant with taut, nutty character and complex
herb and mineral notes. Rounded, concentrated and minerally this is a
precious wine. Very good/excellent 94/100
Vigna Larigi Barbera 1990
Lovely spicy, chewy red with high acidity and a tarry edge to the
fruit. Striking herby, full flavoured style with an appealing
earthiness. Very good/excellent 90/100
Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Tradition 2001 Langenlois, Austria
I was very impressed by this GV, made in a traditional style that
aims to replicate the way the wine would have been made 100 years ago.
Fresh, crisp grassy nose leads to a fascinating palate that is rich
textured with amazing rich white pepper character and a rich texture.
Striking stuff and quite lovely. Very good/excellent 93/100
Antoine Dépagneux Volnay 1959
Old Burgundy can be variable, but this one, from a Rhône
negociant, is showing beautifully. Mature herby, spicy, earthy nose
with complex leathery notes. The palate shows lovely elegant, spicy
fruit with some earthiness. Amazingly youthful and with real life to
it. Very good/excellent 92/100
Domaine de la
Romanée Conti Echezeaux 2000
Initially this was tasted blind and I was blown away by it. At
first sniff I was led to the Rhône, but it quickly became clear that
it was a serious Burgundy. Lovely perfumed nose is fresh and intense
with some spiciness, a hint of animal character and vivid aromas of
red fruits. The palate has a lovely spicy structure. Very elegant with
a wonderful freshness to the vibrant fruit. Breathtaking effort
that’s drinking very well now. Excellent 96/100
Haut Brion 1998 Graves Pessac Leognan, Bordeaux
Tasted blind. Lovely spicy, structured wine in Bordeaux style.
Ripe but very structured showing powerful yet smooth tannins. A
concentrated, nicely structured wine with impeccable balance.
Impressive stuff. Very good/excellent 94/100
pudding we nipped over the the atmospheric Niepoort
lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia, where a group of Norweigans were waiting
for us. Don't ask me what the connection was, but they were friendly
and polite, and we were treated to a remarkable array of Ports.
First we started
off with Niepoort Vintage 1983, which was nice with lovely complexity.
Then we moved on to a 1964 Garrafeira, which was spicy and complex
with great appeal. A 30 Year Old Tawny bottled in 2004 was mellow and
spicy with lively acidity and a lovely spicy finish. I then started
taking proper notes again when the 1948 Garrafeira came out.
Garrafeira (bottled 1952, decanted in 1973)
Intense, smooth, spicy and deep with wonderfully intense, well
balanced spicy fruit. Rich and full with lovely rich fruity, spicy
complexity and good acidity. Great balance to this special wine.
The oldest port at Niepoort. This is wood matured and has spent
all its life in cask. It’s a very dark colour and has an amazing
intense, spicy, woody nose. The palate is explosively concentrated
with massively rich, intense spicy flavours and high acidity. Just a
sip fills the mouth and it has a long very spicy aftertaste. There are
none of the off notes often found with very old wines. Quite an odd
experience tasting something so old. Excellent 98/100
Now for something new. This is a very deep vivid purple colour. It
has a lovely, assertive, overtly fruity nose with a liquoricey edge.
The palate shows lovely fresh fruit and good tannic structure. Very
tannin, not terribly sweet and quite ‘winey’ with all that intense
fruit. I like this a lot. Very good/excellent 92/100
Bottled in 1935. This is remarkable. Very deep coloured, it is
intensely spicy with soft, slightly herby fruit. Rounded, rich and
spicy on the palate, this doesn’t taste at all tired despite its
age. It’s drinking beautifully. Excellent 96/100
Part 2, Saturday,
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