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Niepoort Charme 2015

Niepoort Charme 2015

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"The 2015 Charme is a field blend, particularly Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, aged for 15 months in used French barriques. It comes in at 13.6% alcohol. This is Niepoort's occasionally quixotic tribute to Burgundy. This is a good vintage for it, though. Elegant and bright, with fine flavor and texture, this is bursting with flavor. There are fresh raspberries everywhere, the tension on the finish easily lifting the fruit. It finishes with another wave of flavor, exuberant in its youth. This is, as always, understated in some ways, too, showing fine mid-palate finesse. This is probably my favorite vintage of this brand in awhile. It may be entitled to an uptick if it develops well. It may do better in terms of aging than suggested, as Niepoort hopes, but let's take that in stages. In the meanwhile, it should be approachable young, but give it a couple of years if you can. Drink: 2018-2035. 93+ points

Part of this new issue is assessing the new 2016 Branco vintage. In terms of whites, Niepoort said he was not sure which he preferred, leaning to the 2016s, but he preferred 2015 in both reds and ports. (Granting that everyone's terroir is different and different picking decisions may color views, too, I lean to the 2015s overall.) Although many of these were not yet bottled, it looks to me like 2015 is one of Niepoort's best vintages in Tintos. The Ports weren't too shabby, either—those are separately reviewed this issue. They are among the stars of the vintage.

This issue also includes wines from many of Niepoort's terroirs—he is rapidly spreading through Portugal and popping up everywhere. To my mind, his Bairrada project just might be the best segment of his table wines these days (separately listed as Quinta de Baixo), assuming you like that low-alcohol, tannic and crisp style (nothing fat and sweet there). Increasingly, incidentally, Niepoort is releasing the wines a year later and holding them a bit longer in tank or bottle to make the wines more age-worthy and a little more austere, essentially calming the fruit."

Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (232)