The Niepoort Vintage Porto 2019 was officially announced on Dirk Niepoort’s birthday, in conjunction with an online tasting where Dirk, Daniel Niepoort (now Head Winemaker), Nick Delaforce (Head Portmaker) presented the new Vintage Port wine alongside the Vintage 2000.
This comparison, and to other Vintage Port releases since, revealed some fantastic insights about Dirk’s philosophy and what he looks for in great Vintage Port. We only have space for a few snippets here, but we’re sure the attending journalists will have plenty to say in due course!
There were discussions about the 2019 vintage as a whole, including how some rain just before harvest, following the warm summer, was helpful to allow the grapes to reach perfect maturity. Picking times are also a hot topic for Niepoort, as they are generally earlier than those of other Port houses.
Dirk believes that phenolic/flavour ripeness can be achieved without the accumulation of too much sugar and, therefore, potential alcohol and jammy fruit flavours. This also means slightly higher natural acidities, and so fresher wines. Dirk’s anecdote from a time chatting to Robert Mondavi seems to underpin his view on the inherent balance of a port wine, in particular the relationship between actual sugar levels and perceived sweetness, whereby "all great sweet wines should taste sweet, making them indulgent, but finish dry, so as not to be too heavy and leave you wanting more”, according to Mr Mondavi.