Niepoort Charme 2021


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“I was blown away by the elegance and subtleness of the 2021 Charme, I wine I know quite well and have followed from the first vintage (I think even a non-commercial release in the beginning). It’s a red wine produced in Vale Mendiz where they make the Port, a mixture of vineyards from the village. It had a very short maceration of the full clusters in lagar, was pressed to barrels where it finished fermenting and was put through malolactic, was kept in barrel for nine months and then was transferred to the cellar in Quinta de Napoles. It has a very elegant and perfumed style, with no oak whatsoever. It’s floral, with notes of red berries and herbs and a medium-bodied palate with refined, elegant tannins and a long and supple finish with a spicy twist (from the barrels? some 15% to 20% new). This wine has been changing through the years, and this has to be the most elegant version of it, following the path of the 2018. It has a moderate 13% alcohol with a pH of 3.56 and 5.7 grams of acidity. 9,700 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2023. Superb! Drink: 2023-2033. 98 points

Where to start? I’ve known Dirk Niepoort for over 25 years, and I’ve followed his wines over the years. He doesn’t stop. He has grown his company like crazy. The still wines are on a new level since 2018 (they are always evolving, and they mention 2013 and 2021 as other years of change) with the arrival of winemaker Luis Pedro Cândido da Silva and the next generation of the Niepoort family, especially their son, Daniel, who joined the team in 2020. They not only produce wine in Douro but, nowadays, in most regions in Portugal—Dão, Alentejo, Vinho Verde, Bairrada…

The style is elegant, but they want the wines to age in bottle, so for them it’s all about balance. Some vineyards and wines have been certified organic since 2008. All of the vineyards they own are certified organic, but some of the grapes they buy are not. Daniel Niepoort, who’s a lot more focused on the vineyards now, told me organic is very important for him but that growers are also important and they want to keep the relationship with the growers and be a role model for them to show them that organic is possible, convincing them by being an example.

In 2022, they only got 202 liters of rain (a little less than in 2003!), but the vines adapted to the low water and yields were better than expected. They got some rain during harvest and some fungus. It was one of the most dramatic vintages in viticulture, and some plants died. But 2022 was great for Port. As for 2021, it was a great year for dry wines (but not great for Port), and there was enough water reserve in the soils. They consider it a perfect agricultural year with good yields; it has a mild spring and summer, so a longer cycle and perfect ripening of the grapes. It could be a little like 2018, 2008 and 2001—cooler years with higher acidity. 2020 was warm and dry, so the grapes were healthier. But it was the COVID-19 vintage, and that created some problems in the vineyards; everything was weird that year. As for 2023, even if still too early, the year was also great in Douro, for Luis Pedro the finest he’s seen there.”

Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (04/24)