A record was set this week: As part of a fundraiser a Niepoort Colheita from 1863 in a Lalique bottle was sold for around 100,000 Euros. A sum that makes you dizzy, right? However, if you have ever been to the Douro valley, visited a Quinta of avant-gardist Dirk van der Niepoort and saw the effort involved in Port, this price does not seem quite as abstract anymore.
I met Dirk a few years ago at a Port fair in Germany. He is, just like his wines, a very approachable guy. Nevertheless he also likes to raise new questions during a conversation. I always remain with the feeling of having to dig even deeper into the matter of Port and Douro-Doc wines.
In spring I accept the invitation and visit the newly renovated Quinta do Napoles near the city of Pinhao. The views from up here are breathtaking. Due to the clever combination of old and modern architectural elements the Quinta, which used to be an old farmhouse, is very attractive outside. And the interior continues with similar highlights of old versus new.
A special highlight for me is the owner’s semi-private wine cellar, located directly below the public tasting room. Suddenly a hatch hidden in the floor opens. I look down a tightly wrapped spiral staircase that leads to an oval room about 3 meters in diameter. A storage not only for the finest Niepoort wines. I see a lot of wines from other regions like Burgundy. The bottles are stored from floor to ceiling and all around. I also spot some beautiful German Rieslings, knowing that Dirk is a big fan …
I guess every wine fan would like to be locked in here for a while. To prevent this from happening, there is a porthole window in the floor of the tasting room. It is decorated with the Niepoort logo but you can still see through if someone was left behind in the basement.
We now enter the cool production zone one level deeper down. A special and architecturally remarkable place here is the large panoramic window with the two modern, mint coloured rocking chairs. The view of the valley seems almost fantastic from here. A bit like from another, better world. A painting made by nature.
While we wander around a team of employees is filling the 2017 vintage of the Fabelhaft White in the spacious, modern and chilly hall. Later at lunch we will be the first to try this wine. The stonewalls are rough and the humid air is filled with the typical musty cellar aromas. It all feels like being in a huge natural cave where steel platforms have been built in to give more room for storage. All in all a great scenery for the next James Bond movie.
Leaving the cool cellar we step back into the warming spring sun. The majestic balcony in front of one of the event rooms invites to take photos and linger. A wonderful view down to the gently meandering Rio Tedo – a tributary of the Douro and the vineyards that rise steeply as far as the eye can see. I just can’t get enough of it. Every breath I take brings more relaxation, more satisfaction.
The walls of the Quinta are made of the slate that defines the regions soil. When you put your hand on it you immediately notice how much heat the stones can store and thus give back. Especially the vines benefit from this during cooler nights.
After the tour we are invited to stay for lunch. The chef, a small and shy Lady, serves three basic and homemade Portuguese dishes, each of which is simply delicious. The workers from the cellar and vineyard as well as the oenologist also join in. During the meal all visitors are allowed to taste numerous Douro-Doc wines like Redoma and Batuta, finishing with some beautiful Ports. I am deeply fascinated by this generous and still very easygoing hospitality.
And after this fantastic day in May, the crazy amount of 100,000 Euro for a Colheita made in 1863 does not seem as far fetched anymore …
The Port lovers among you will understand 😉
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Artikel zu: Niepoort, Douro