Port is one of the categories of wine that seems to bewilder a lot of folks who are curious, but not particularly familiar with it. The various designations have names such as Tawny, Late Bottled, Ruby and Vintage Port to name a few. It would much more than one post to get into the variations so I’ll focus on one for today, Vintage Port. One of the things that add to the mystique of Vintage Port is that there are quite a few years without one. For a Vintage Port to exist a Port House needs to feel the quality is sufficient and declare it to be a vintage year. Beyond that, barrel and bottle aging minimums and maximums are part of the equation in what makes up a Vintage port. Today I’ll look at one that is soon to be released from Niepoort. The 2007 Niepoort Vintage Port will be released in October of 2009. Niepoort is located in the Douro region of Portugal. Varietals used in the blend of this port are Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Cão, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarela, Sausão, Touriga Nacional and more. The vines the fruit came from have an average age between 60 and 100 years old. Aging was accomplished over a two year period in large old vats. The suggested retail price for this wine upon release will be $75.
A couple of months back I had a chance to taste wine with the Douro Boys. Dirk Niepoort is one of the Douro Boys and I found him to be to be an incredibly engaging speaker. That said I believe he's an even better winemaker. So with that in mind I was eager to taste his new Vintage Port to see how it stacked up to the previous ones I’d had the opportunity to try.
Plum and cherry notes in the nose of this Port are joined by copious spice characteristics, notably plum pudding, as well as fruitcake spice. From the very first sip continued cherry flavors are dominant. Both red and black cherry notes resonate throughout the palate of this wine along with cassis and blackberry. Midway through dark chocolate flavors kick in and carry through the finish which is significant in length, persistence and structure.
This Port is terrific now but it needs time to reach its full potential as the classic it’s destined to slowly evolve into. The 2007 Niepoort Vintage Port is an absolutely tremendous wine at the earliest stages of its life-cycle. If you’re going to drink it soon, and by soon I mean over the next 20 years or so, I strongly recommend and advocate decanting this wine for 3 or four hours. By all means check on it every hour or so to see how it’s developing, but patience will be rewarded. If you have the time and the patience this wine will improve and age gracefully over the long haul. This release is a blockbuster in terms of quality and age worthiness. Here’s hoping Dirk Niepoort keeps on releasing wines of this magnitude for a long time to come.