The emperor’s new clothes

“Nat Cool Drink Me” is the latest brand to be launched by Portugal’s veritable superstar winemaker Dirk Niepoort. Now, before I explain why I am referring to the emperor’s new clothes, I should state that I am a great fan of Niepoort’s wines. He has done more than most to promote Portuguese wine and is considered by many to be its greatest ambassador. What’s more, he undoubtedly produces some of the best wines made in this country.

But Dirk Niepoort is known for his sometimes offbeat and quirky projects as much as he is known for the stellar wines produced under his main labels.

Just recently I heaped praise in this column on his new Clarete, one of the most interesting new wines I have tried this year, and when I saw these funky new labels newly-arrived at Apolónia last week, I did not hesitate to pick up a bottle of the red and white, both priced at €12.95 for the unusual format one-litre bottle.

So far so good, but there is next-to-no information on the label as to what is inside these bottles, save for a fun set of rules stating why this is such a cool wine. And much is cool about the concept behind it.

Nat Cool stands for ‘naturally cool’ and what he is referring to is that these are wines of minimal extraction and intervention with low alcohol levels, still all good. And I was sold on the concept, especially once I did a little digging and discovered that the red is made in Bairrada from my personal favourite grape variety Baga and that the white is in fact a vinho verde made from mixed grapes from different selected growers in the Vinho Verde region.

This is a fun project which has, at its core, a desire to produce light and easy-drinking wines. This has been achieved, but my issue with these wines is the price. Even when considering we are getting a one-litre bottle, a price of close to €13 is far too high in my book for a fun, easy-drinking wine.

So hence my reference to the emperor’s new clothes, for such is the popularity of Dirk Niepoort amongst those who love Portuguese that most will happily pay the price. 

patrick.stuart@open-media.net