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By introducing another premium Vintage Port to the Niepoort Portfolio, Bioma “Vinha Velha” provides us with the opportunity to create, or re-create, a style of Vintage Port which not only respects the terroir, but also harks back to a golden age of Port. At the heart of the concept of Bioma “Vinha Velha”, is a very special vineyard (Vinha da Pisca) in a very peculiar part of the Douro.
For many years, this vineyard has provided the backbone of Niepoort Vintage Ports, but since 2005, we have been able to study the qualities of this vineyard in greater detail, managing it in an organic way, and furthermore, identifying better, part of the remarkable wines made here for setting aside, as Bioma in 2011, 2009, 2008 and Pisca in 2007.
Bioma “Vinha Velha” is a single vineyard Vintage Port, rather than a single Quinta. The “Vinha Velha” refers to the extraordinary age of the vines at Vinha da Pisca, mostly exceeding 80 years old. The intention is to offer, in very small quantity a style of Vintage Port which is more akin to the very best English-bottled Vintage Ports of 1970 and before. The exceptional fruit quality from the ancient vines of the Pisca Vineyard appears to express its sense of place quite wonderfully when we apply the ‘logic’ of older times.
At our Port winemaking facility, in Vale de Mendiz, the grapes for Bioma are trodden entirely by foot with 100% stems. After fortification with fine brandy, the Port is left to settle over the winter. Springtime sees the wine transferred to our winery at Quinta de Nápoles and racked into pipes (the classic 550 litre lodge pipe). For the classic Niepoort Vintage, and most other Vintage Port, the wines are transferred to Vila Nova de Gaia, and aged in large vats. Using pipas instead of large vats was inspired in the “old days” when England shipped wines in pipes. Furthermore we bottle Bioma “Vinha Velha” in the third year after the harvest, rather than the second. This results that we offer Bioma one year later than the classic Vintage Port.
In 2008, the Douro was blessed with rather cooler conditions, and later harvest, which were excellent conditions for the concept of Bioma “Vinha Velha”. The finished wine is super-bright, with fantastically expressive fruit, and a strong base of minerality.