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Niepoort declares ‘epic’ 2017 vintage

Published:  12 April, 2019

Winemaker Dirk Niepoort has declared his 2017 vintage port, hailing it as “the best wine I’ve ever done” at a tasting for the trade at Lyle’s in London on Thursday.

With 2017 now being declared by houses along the Douro, led by Symington Family Estate earlier this week, which announced a rare back-to-back general declaration for its 2017 following its 2016 ports, Niepoort said he was confident from an early stage that the 2017 would be a great vintage.

“Even before harvesting the grapes this [vintage] looked perfect, yields were quite low, it had been hot and dry, but warm during harvest - not too hot – and it is a very balanced year,” said Niepoort.

Predicting that “this is a wine that will age forever”, Niepoort’s 2017 Vintage showed a seamless balance, concentrated with firm but very fine tannins, but with a purity and elegance throughout, backed by great acidity.

“The youngest vines are now 80 years old, and the grapes are all foot trodden in lagares, and when we first started with 2017 it looked amazing – an epic vintage,” said Niepoort.

Something of a maverick – if a highly respected one – he went on to describe his love of acidity and fresh wines, rather than the “big, jammy styles” that some rivals preferred to make, suggesting that the image of big, sweet and overly rich ports have been responsible for putting off younger generations of drinkers.

Niepoort, who is well know for his Colheita and Garrafeira wines, of which a 1987 and 1863 respectively were on tasting before the 2017 was presented, described 2016 as “big, over-ripe”, explaining why he did not declare in that year.

“The 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2015 were all incredible vintages for Niepoort but the 2017 is a culmination of experience from all those fantastic vintages,” he added.