I would not normally focus my weekly column on a wine I myself consider to be somewhat overpriced, but what we have here is something totally different that deserves the attention of any lover of Portuguese wine.
Winemaker Dirk Niepoort is renowned for his Douro wines, most notably the Redoma brand and premium labels such as Charme and Batuta. But over recent years he has been lending his hand to projects in the Bairrada and Dão regions, and this wine is one of the most impressive.
Joining forces with leading Dão producer Álvaro Castro, he took the 2012 harvest of an old vineyard with vines almost 100 years old set in granite soil close to the Serra de Estrela mountains.
The grapes, a mixture of predominantly Baga and Jaen with other local varieties, were harvested in peak condition and fermented in cement vats before spending 20 months in 2,500 litres used oak vats.
The resulting wine, finally released onto the market this year, is fine and delicate, similar in structure to good Burgundy. On the nose it is fresh and spicy, harmonious in the mouth with fine tannins and a depth of flavour that belies the light structure.
When I say it is overpriced, I am only comparing it to what I could get in terms of decent Burgundy, considering that this is a wine costing around €30 in the shops. But what we have here is something quite unique in terms of Portuguese wine, and from that perspective I consider it to be €30 well spent.
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]