Epic wine/port tasting with Dirk Niepoort and friends

I have been looking forward to this evening for several weeks, and haven’t slept properly for the last few days. Did it fulfill my expectations? Yes, absolutely.

What can be said about what happened? I was welcomed into the house of one of the world’s single greatest private collectors of Port wines, a friend of my dad’s. We went through dozens of bottles, among them 1990 d’Yquem and several Bordeaux. We opened thousands of euros in Port: two 1863 single harvest Tawny’s - Niepoort and Taylor’s - plus a bucketload of 1955s, a 1948 Niepoort Garrafeira and a 1940s Jura fortified wine of whose existence I was unaware of (Dirk’s gift to the table). This might be a day as usual among the life of many Berserkers, but I am a 27 year old whose wine passion is not at all proportionate to my limited funds. I am blessed - by my friendships, by my luck - and I have neither the capability nor the competence to provide adequate tasting notes for everything I’ve tried. I can only say that the greatest white of the evening was the 1999 Buçaco (hooray, Portugal!), easily surpassing its most famous Bordeaux colleagues. But my non-fortified wine of the evening was the Yquem. Such richness, nuance and delicacy. Jesus Christ.

I am blessed. I know you are too, perhaps far more than I am, but I am overflowing with joy and it feels silly not to share it. Thank God for wine, and life in general. Sometimes it goes well, despite our endless sins and flaws. And sometimes you end up sitting next to Dirk Niepoort, who is one of the funniest men in our little Iberian rectangle.



Very nice Tomas!
How did the two 1863’s show? I’ve had the Taylors (when it was still owned by Wiese&Krohn in their lodge) a couple of times. Never had the Niepoort.

Eric, to my untrained palate they were both extraordinary yet hard to distinguish. The Scion Taylor’s was of a similar profile. None of those wines were noticeably sweet anymore: other, endlessly complex and austere notes had taken over. Very hard to describe, but it was everything from old mahogany to Douro earthiness. The 1955 vintages from Taylor’s and Niepoort were strikingly different, the Niepoort being far more elegant and youthful. We also had a 1948 Niepoort Garrafeira which no one thought was older than 1980s.

Tomas, I hate you and your post and was better off not reading it or seeing the photographic evidence of your amazing experience. [swearing.gif]

Oh sorry, that was the deep jealousy speaking. [wow.gif] This must have been absolutely amazing! Who cares if you’re just 27, that’s an amazing experience for any wine lover at any age to have. I don’t know if I should be happy for you that you got to have it and have so many more years of wine experiences ahead of you or geniuinely sorry in that it will probably be unmatched and you have peaked far, far too early.

Tran, I think the most important part of the evening was how I learned to humanize these impossibly expensive bottles. Are they extraordinary? Yes, pretty mind blowing. But nevertheless, does it make sense for a single bottle to be worth this much money? We had a terrific Caves de São João 1990 red which was far cheaper than anything else on the table at dinner, and if this had been a blind tasting I might not have guessed it. I didn’t understand the price tag on a lot of those whites, either.

As far as peaking or not goes, I can only hope to continue to be surrounded by such generous people throughout my life… Because there is no way I will ever be able to invest like this.

That’s really great Tomas. I’m sure it was a helluva evening. Dirk is a great guy and I’m sure it was a great experience to taste the wines with him.

I’ve had both of those ports. The Scion is an unknown vintage that the family had records for back to 1855, but there wasn’t any information in those records to state the actual vintage. Many have surmised that it was the 1851 vintage, which was excellent. My guess is that it could be 1847, which was a stronger vintage than the 1851. Either way, it’s an interesting wine that actually tastes more like a Malmsey Madeira due to the level of acid. I guess the acid could come from the fact that the wine spent 150 years in the wood.

Was the Niepoort 1863 you referred to the “VV” port? If so, that’s a really interesting wine as well that also has a similar profile to the Scion with the amount of acid. Dirk told me that it was a blend consisting of about 50% of the 1863 vintage along with other wines that are about 100 years old. I think his grandfather actually blended it, if my memory serves me.

Thanks for sharing your evening’s experience!

The 1863 and the Scion are two different wines. The 1863 came from the purchase of Weise&Krohn a few years ago. They had 2 .5 pipes of the 1863! They also had single pipes of an 1892 and 1892 white. These were in the W&K lodge in Gaia. They had the foresight to register these wines with the Port Wine Institute when the PWI was founded, thus they are allowed to show the vintage on the label. The Scion supposedly came from a couple of pipes on the Douro which were refreshed with a younger wine. This was an unregistered wine, hence the fantasy name and no date. The Niepoort VV is another blend, but I believe the majority of the wine is indeed from 1863.

Quite true on all accounts. I only mentioned the Scion because Tomas referred to it, so I thought that’s what he had.

I’ve never had the 1863 Taylor’s. :frowning:

I have had the Scion a couple of times, and it was certainly one of the great wine experiences of my life. I agree it is a not very Port like, although I had the 40 year old Taylor tawny, which showed a little of the character, although the quality differential was huge. I did not get the Malmsey taste, nor did I find it having the degree of volatility (it did show a little) which I find quite off putting in some ancient Madeiras.

Very nice Tomas. I drank the 1863 with Dirk a few years back. Great guy. He has not take that vest off in 25 years. :slight_smile:

Come for the Wine analysis; stay for the Vest analysis…

1990 Yquem. “Jesus Christ. (And a brief collection of adjectives).” That’s a very accurate note, Tomas :wink:.

Thanks for sharing such a joyful moment! Wine at its best is just incredible.

HI John. We had both the VV and the 1863s from Niepoort and Taylor’s, as they were all owned by the very generous gentleman who hosted us. The 1863 from Niepoort being, as you and others mentioned, the foundation for the VV. Part of me wishes I had had this experience twenty years from now, because I had some difficulty distinguishing these wines from each other. The VV was more balanced, though, probably thanks to the newer vintages in the mix.

The port tasting was 1948 Niepoort Garrafeira, 1955 Taylor’s and Niepoort’s, Taylor’s Scion, Niepoort VV and the two 1863s. I found the last four to be very very similar in their overall profile. The 1955 were radically different, though, and Dirk actually preferred the Taylor’s (“this %@#€ is so austere, so alcoholic, yet so perfect…”)

My impression upon tasting these old ports was that they were no longer sweet wines, even if technically the sugar was all there. The acidities, as you mention, were striking in the way they underlined the complexity. Some old wines simply taste like vinegar, even when the nose is interesting. These, on the other hand, felt as if they were at their peak - a sort of muscled old age, mixture of strength and wisdom.

I’ve never seen him wear anything else. It says ‘Niepoort’ on the right hand side of the vest, though… Dirk knows how to market himself, and it’s no wonder he’s the best known Portuguese wine producer abroad (with a little help from his first wife). I think there is some artificiality around his public persona. Miguel Louro, from Quinta do Mouro in Alentejo, strikes me as a more genuine eccentric.

Although I don’t drink ports very often if ever, it is truly heart warming to read about this experience. I love to see others getting to enjoy wines and great times with friends. That’s what this passion is all about (for me at least). Thank you for sharing this awesome experience.

When wood aged Ports become that old, they do start tasting similar. Minor differences in flavor. The main differences are acid/sugar balance, texture of the mouthfeel, length, weight.

Miguel Louro, from Quinta do Mouro in Alentejo, strikes me as a more genuine eccentric.

Alvaro Crasto in Dao is a pretty interesting guy as well. He hates meeting the public however.

I’ve never interacted with him, although I love his work. The Goliardos guys are making really nice (and inexpensive) wines with him at Saes and Pellada.