Niepoort Batuta 2015
“The 2015 Batuta is a field blend from old vines, with lots of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Rufete and others, aged in 20% new French barriques for 20 months. It comes in at just 12.5% alcohol. This may be my favorite Batuta in a long time. Now, this is always an elegantly crafted wine, always understated (often, to a fault). This year, though, it has a particularly nice combination of freshness, grip and ripe tannins that make it very appealing. Then, it adds that gorgeous intensity of fruit flavor that this vintage produced, perfectly supported and defined by the acidity that slams the fruit into the palate. There is also very respectable weight (relative to this usually understated bottling and the elegant vintage). It then finishes tight and grabs the palate. Overall, this deserves some props and plenty of them. It should age beautifully. It is also a vintage that is approachable young, but it will certainly be better in 2020 or so, assuming you can keep your hands off of it. It is very tasty now, if a bit tight. We’ll see what the future brings, but I have to lean up on this beauty right now. This was not bottled when seen, but it was a tank sample, out of barrel and the final blend. Drink: 2018-2045. 94-96 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)