'The 2017 Vintage Port is epic and a triumph, the best I've witnessed in all my years at Niepoort' - Dirk Niepoort
Concentrated and intense, wonderfully balanced, seductive, persistent, 2017 Niepoort is astonishing. 'Sorry if I get emotional about this wine,' said Dirk as we tasted last week. Niepoort ports are characterised by their balance, and this is a supreme example of a wine in which powerful tannins and substantial alcohol are made to seem entirely effortless by freshness and lift. The very floral aromatics are entirely typical of the house style. Dirk is convinced his 2017 is the best port he has ever made, the best Niepoort, possibly, since his grandfather's generation and the 1945.
Even Dirk admits that it's more about fine-tuning than a complete overhaul. But there's no question about it; everything was in place for a perfect vintage in 2017. The fruit all comes from vineyards that are at least 80 years old. The long, hot growing season brought ripeness and kept the vineyards disease-free, but cool nights kept the vines refreshed. Yields were down, but they brought in an almost perfect crop. They took out all the fruit that was only 'very good'. And then there is the wealth of human experience at the house. It's not just that Dirk represents the fifth generation of port producers here. The position of Master Blender has also become de facto hereditary, passing through 5 generations of the Noguiera family. Small wonder that Niepoort takes the long view.
Port is of course a traditional christening gift - properly stored, a top quality vintage port can last a human lifetime. Dirk presented his 2017 to us alongside the 1970 and the 1942, both still singing. He reckons the 2017 will have an early youthful flourish for its first 5 years of life till roughly 2022, go into a slumber for the next decade, then spring back to life and in all likelihood outlive anyone old enough to be reading this email. /NT