A bit of the pre-Douro: Niepoort – Diálogo Tinto 2015
Today I find myself freshly arrived in the Douro Valley, apparently slipping in on the end of a mini heatwave. The last time I came here, I ended up driving through rampant forest fires. This time was far less adventurous, taking the train that meanders its way partly amongst the vines of Minho and partly along this most mighty and crucial of Portuguese rivers.
The reasons to make this trip are numerous, but what tilted the balance was receiving an invitation to the first edition of “Primeira Prova“; a tasting of the new wines from 26 wineries in the Douro as well as Porto DOPs. As I understand, this event has taken place previously in other forms and was based down in Lisboa. This is the first year that they’ve bundled it up under this name and with scheduled “silent tastings” that allow those participating to taste through over 150 wines during three days. That fact that it’s not blind is made up for by the fact you’re doing it in the region (in the village of Peso da Régua) and with the winemakers in attendance to talk to with once you’ve finished tasting. While I always insist on blind tasting if there’s the option, this is a reasonable trade off.
In all honestly, if you want to taste the most Portuguese wines in terms of sheer volume, you’d probably be better off going up to London for one of the various tastings that takes place via the “Wines of Portugal” trade body. But, for those still in love with the romantic side of wine and that much-overused word, “terroir”, a large, drafty space in Central London pales in comparison to actually being in the Douro Valley.
To get into the mood, I rummaged through the cellar, looking for what still remained from previous Portuguese wines and came across this somewhat forgotten bottle from Niepoort in their young, “Diálogo” range.
I feel I must have picked this up two or more years ago but it continues to show quite well despite the fact it’s meant to be an easy-drinking wine. For me it’s the epitome of what wines from Douro can be with little effort: crisp, bright acidity, but still with plenty of depth, fruit, and complexity. That 15% of the wine aged in oak for 12 months can win over most anyway but doesn’t wonk up the profile for those who aren’t into chewing tannins. “Crowd pleaser”? Most definitely and the fact that it’s made from all local varieties (we’ll just run with Tinta Roriz being “local” despite it actually being Spain’s Tempranillo) and for less than 10€, you can’t really go wrong.
As a side note, it was lovely to see such bountiful, fresh acidity to the wine given that the 2015s on the Mediterranean side of things were far less bouncy. Go go, Atlantic orientation!
Niepoort - Diálogo Tinto 2015
Dark cherry and ripe strawberry compote, desiccated boysenberry, wealth of dried herbs, rosemary, anise. Crisp red fruits on the palate, super fresh, high acidity, with a medium plus finish.
Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tempranillo, Tinta Amarela · 13% · 9EUR