Footloose In The Douro – 8. Lunch With Dirk Niepoort


 

Quinta de Nápoles – Dirk Niepoort’s new winery on Rio Tedo outside Pinhao produces  his magnificent unfortified Douro wines. We went to Nápoles to taste them with Dirk over lunch

 

As we came off the N222 at the mouth of the Tedo River, we could see the massive, dark concrete mass of the winery on top of the hill. We drove through terraced vineyards towards Santo Adrião, parked near Dirk’s first small winery and walked to the old house which now functions as the office.  Gabriela Santos came out to meet us.

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The new winery

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The Douro and Tedo Rivers near the turn off to Santo Adrião

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The old winery

From the top of the winery where the grapes are unloaded and gravity fed in to tanks on the floor below, the view of the vine clad valley was magnificent. Gabriela led us to the state-of-the-art winery, and conducted a barrel tasting with quiet efficiency. We gazed in amazement at the mother of all spiral cellars, orderly and discreetly illuminated.

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In the long, open-sided dining room, the table was already set. We drank an off dry Moscatel on the balcony overlooking the valley and sat down to lunch. Dirk’s family and visiting friends joined us.

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We talked about old times. “Gabriela could not recognise me in the photograph you sent her” Dirk said. Not surprising – it was taken twenty two years ago! Gabriella who sat across from us showed the photograph to Dirk’s mother and she looked quizzically at me. “What do you folks drink most now” Dirk asked me. When I said Pinot Noir, he beamed, said “I thought so,” got up and walked over to the cellar. He came back with bottle of wine, opened it and poured me a glass. The hand written label said Pinot Noir 2013. “But it is not permitted up here!” I said. Dirk shook his head and smiled mischievously. He had planted one hectare of Pinot Noir on top of Quinta do Naples in 1999. The fruit is fermented in open vats and aged in wood for twelve months. It is a pleasing wine with red fruit and silky tannins and I sipped it with admiration.

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We ate soup, salads and excellent roast kid and rice. We talked so much and drank so much – Dirk kept on fetching more bottles including a magnum of 2005 Redoma Tinto, I felt uncomfortable taking paper and pencil out to take notes. Fruit was eaten and Port poured. It was relaxed and easy afternoon and was a privilege to be there with a bunch of such wonderful people.

QUINTA DE NÁPOLES: Têdo, 5110-543 Santo Adrião, Tel: +351 254 855 436

MILES AWAY, Mafalda Nicolau de Almeida  /  Email: mafalda@milesaway.pt  /  Cell Phone: +351 93 874 95 28
Address: Av. Dr. Artur Máximo Saraiva de Aguilar n.º 8 2.º Esq. 5150-540 Vila Nova de Foz Côa  http://www.milesaway.pt

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