Harvest Report 2015 - The wines are expected to be fine, elegant and with great longevity.
The old museum at Vale de Mendiz was purchased by Niepoort in 2003 and converted into a winery exclusively for port. The separation into two winemaking centres is intentional, as it allows dedicated and optimized processes for ports and Douro wines.
The QUINTA DE NÁPOLES estate has about 30 hectares of vineyards. The vines are located at an altitude of 180-250 m and their age ranges from eighteen to seventy years and over. The Quinta de Nápoles estate is located on the left bank of the River Têdo, and it is there that Niepoort produces its red, white and rosé wines. A new winery was built in 2007. It is an underground "cathedral" devoted to wine, and integrated into the terraces.
With the QUINTA DE BAIXO acquisition, in December 2012, Dirk Niepoort decided to revolutionize and convert all the project into Biodynamics. To help him with this process, a partnership was established with Andrew and Kati Lorand. They started living at Quinta de Baixo, assuming the great challenge of changing mentalities and procedures.
Quinta de Nápoles
The weather conditions of the viticultural year 2015 were very favourable, with sun, heat and low humidity, allowing a homogeneous vegetative growth.
The winter, with rain from March, has replaced a large part of water reserves in the soil. In early spring average temperatures were high and some rain completed the water replacement, allowing a balanced sprouting. After flowering in May, the veraison began in July, rather homogeneous, about two weeks earlier than in the previous year.
One of the particular features of this viticultural year was the vineyard ability to remain hydrated during ripening. In late August, early September, the basal leaves still remained green and moist, with hydrated berries and a thick, firm skin. The balance of musts, the softness of tannins, and the intense colour concentration indicate that this is an exceptional year for Doc Douro Wines.
Vale de Mendiz
Harvest started early in V. Mendiz on 28th August after a very hot July and August, the first grapes harvested were for Charme and for port wine in the V. Mendiz area from cooler north facing vineyards. The hotter classic port vineyards were exhibiting a certain heat stress, but with the onset of cooler nights maturity advanced in the first few weeks of September under fine conditions and the wines exhibit hard tannins and a lot of colour. Yesterday however there was an intense rain shower so we stopped picking, hopefully within a few days the weather will clear up and fine tune the remaining grapes so as to complete the harvest. At this point our top vineyards have already been harvested but we have only harvested 40% of the vineyards — time will tell — but the year shows a lot of promise so far!
Quinta de Baixo
The winter 2014-15 was mild and with little rainfall, however during spring, in April and May, the rainfall was high, which led to a careful and rigorous intervention in the vineyard.
High temperatures in the following months allowed a balanced ripening.
The ripening control in early August confirmed that 2015 would be a precocious year. The harvest began on 25 August, a week earlier than the previous year and ended on 14 September, demonstrating an increase in production of close to 20%.
This year it is foreseen the continuity of wines with a balanced profile, great freshness and low alcohol content.
The winter 2014-15 was mild and with little rainfall. From early spring to mid-summer, the weather conditions with low humidity and a lot of sun gave rise to some stress in the vineyard, which eventually has stood up well to a very dry year in Dão.
In early August the ripening control showed that 2015 would be a precocious year. The harvest began on 31 August, a week earlier than the previous year.
The harvest ended on 15 September, demonstrating an increase in production of close to 40%.
The wines presented a perfect acidity, with degrees between 11,5 and 12,5, so the wines are expected to be fine, elegant and with great longevity.
Harvest Report 2014
At Quinta de Nápoles, 2014 was a winegrowing year with less quantity but higher quality.
The decrease in production, which represents 20% when compared to the previous year, was not only on account of plant health reasons, but also due to “desavinho” – the natural selection that both physiologically as with certain weather conditions, affects negatively the transformation of flowers into fruits. The whole picture indicated we would have an early year due to the large amount of water accumulated during winter and spring. The maturation phase occurred early and allowed the beginning of the harvest on August 19 with Pinot Noir, followed by Bastardo. On September 7, fell 8mm of water that were beneficial for some ripening in the vineyards located in less fresh places. September, as already forecasted, was the wettest month in 80 years. Thus, at Quinta de Nápoles, we harvested most of the parcels over a period of good weather, between 7 and 21 September.
2014 will undoubtedly be a great year for white wines, with freshness, minerality and an unusual precision. The red wines are very balanced, with great freshness and a clean and fleeting fruit. Despite being early to say so, we believe it is a year of exceptional quality, with wines that will show the cooler character Douro can give.
Vale de Mendiz
The weather during the agricultural year of 2014 will certainly be remembered for its instability, especially in the latter stages and during the Vintage itself. If it had rained at the end of August, followed by a dry September with average temperatures - then some surely fabulous ports would have emerged; however this was not the case, but I believe with the lower yields in 2014 and less potential alcohol, some very fresh and acid driven wines (in the Niepoort style) with good colour have been made at Vale de Mendiz, before the rain started in the middle of the Vintage. Harvest at Vale de Mendiz started early, on 1st September principally with grapes from vineyards in Vale de Mendiz which supply the base of wines for Charme aswell as some superb elegantly structured ports. The first Lagar from the Pisca vineyard was harvested on 12th September with very good colour evident in the Lagar and great finesse after fortification. Ports from the old vineyards at Sibio and Bragão are also impressive and not affected by the rain. The last grapes were harvested on 2nd October, so with a small harvest quite an early finish.
Overall, some superb wines have been made and very much in the Niepoort style and the early start certainly paid off with the majority of the wines not being affected by the rain, it will be interesting to see how the wines close up over the next few months.
Quinta de Baixo
The Winter in Bairrada was rigorous, long and with a fairly high rainfall, as had already happened in 2013. An almost non-existent Spring and a very mild Summer, with temperatures around 30°C, hinder disease control and maturation.
In the vineyard, the control of ripening began in mid-August, as is the tradition, by tasting the berries and checking the health aspect of the grapes.
The white wines harvest began the 28th August in excellent weather conditions. The days were mild and relatively humid. On the 10th September, with the appearance of heavy rainfall, the harvest was interrupted until the 16th, the date when began the picking of the red grapes. Due to the rainfall, the harvest ended up having to be accelerated to prevent the rot got settled. The harvest ended on September 23, in a very difficult year, but with an excellent acidity and alcohol levels between 11.5 and 12.5, which contributes to fine and elegant wines, with an excellent ageing potential.
2014 was the first harvest year of Niepoort in Dão.
The two-hundred year old Quinta da Lomba, situated between two mountain ranges in Gouveia, was acquired by Niepoort earlier this year. With some effort and dedication, the winery was rebuilt and the vineyard was restructured. At the end of the growing season, the grapes were in an excellent status of health and maturation.
Unlike other regions, it didn’t rain a lot in Dão and there were weeks of hot weather with dry nights and sunny mornings, excellent conditions for the start of the harvest, that began with the white wines on 10 September, followed by the harvest of the red wines on 22 September. The harvest was short, held in ideal weather conditions and ended September 27.