Niepoort Robustus 2013


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“The 2013 Robustus is a field blend with unusual vinification (as always for this brand). It was aged for 45 months in old, 2,000-liter wooden vats and comes in at just 12.7% alcohol. This may be Niepoort’s blockbuster this issue, but in Niepoort’s style, that mostly means freshness, acidity and tannins, not big, sweet fruit and jammy ripeness. Intense and focused, this very precise Robustus is a powerhouse with a crisp, steely edge and intensity of everything. This is a Robustus that seems to be on its way to spectacular. When this is released (October 2017), it is going to need some patience. It should hold several decades thereafter. There will be no rush. This was not bottled when seen, but it was a tank sample, out of barrel and the final blend. Drink: 2020-2048. 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)