Niepoort LBV 2016
Dark ruby in colour with a red rim, this LBV brings dark chocolate aromas to the foreground, along with fruits of the forest and a spicy character. It offers medium weight on the palate with firm structure and acidity providing superb freshness and ending in a spicy, warming finish. The wine is drinking beautifully now, with great freshness and primary fruit in evidence, but it will also benefit from further cellaring for a couple of decades.
Founded in 1842, the small Port house of Niepoort is now run by 5th generation of the family by brother and sister Dirk and Verena Niepoort. They’re one of the few small independent Port houses still in existence but are, nonetheless, a thriving concern. In addition to Port they also concentrate increasingly on the table wines of the Douro valley. It’s easy to forget that it was only a few years ago that Niepoort was only sought out by a small band of faithful followers, as stock of remarkable, artisanal wines built up in the cramped old Niepoort lodge in Rua Serpa Pinto in Vila Nova de Gaia.
These days, with a formidable international reputation which spans all styles from aged tawny to vintage, and all points in between, demand threatens to outstrip supply. Ports are all made at the old Museu de Lagares in Vale de Mendiz, which has the only circular granite lagares in the Douro.
To say that Dirk Niepoort has revolutionised wine production in the Douro Valley would only risk understatement. Since his first experimental wine in 1990, and then first commercial production of Redoma Tinto a year later, Dirk has explored terroirs and experimented relentlessly. And with all winemaking (excepting Charme, and of course Port, both at Vale de Mendiz) conducted at the almost futuristic Quinta do Napoles, a plethora of different offerings are meticulously overseen by a dynamic and energetic team.
After a considerably wet and relatively cool growing season up until July, it appeared that the harvest would be very late, however the end of July and the month of August were dry and hot in the Douro, allowing the ripening process to catch up. In Vale de Mendiz, harvesting began on 12 September. Heavy rainfall on 13 September meant that we had to halt picking but this proved most useful as it allowed the grapes to reach full ripeness over the following few weeks.Harvest resumed under fine conditions with cool nights, and the last grapes were harvested at Vale de Mendiz on 14 October. Yields were down by approximately 30% in the region, but the low yields and good weather conditions concentrated the fruit.