Quinta de Baixo Goncalves Faria Bairrada 2015


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“The 2015 Tinto Gonçalves Faria is a Baga sourced from 70-year-old vines and aged for 20 months in old 2,500-liter fuders. It comes in at 11.5% alcohol. This is simply gorgeous. It is elegant, with fine mid-palate finesse, vivid flavors and a bright, crisp feel typical of Baga. There is nothing jammy here, just precision, finesse and focus. When I first saw this, I was told the SRP was only $35 (implying that it might be available on the street for even less), at which point I was getting seriously excited, given its quality/price ratio, small production level and the potential for further improvement in the cellar. Even now, it’s still worth a fair bit of excitement just for the quality—if you like elegance and acidity, of course. The ripe tannins make this very approachable now, but it should age beautifully. The way this comes together makes it seem very Burgundian, even a bit Pinot Noir-ish in a cool climate way. Its texture is pure velvet and it finishes filled with unusual flavor for Baga. This is a classic 2015. You can probably dive in fairly young—unlike some of the powerhouses here—but it will age very well, too. There were just 3,365 bottles produced. Drink: 2019-2045. 95 points

This is Dirk Niepoort’s Bairrada property, and these wines may well be my favorites of all of his table wines these days. Check out the scores. I have waffled a bit, admittedly, with the use of some “+” signs because young, powerful Baga is often hard to read when very young and at a very early stage. The power and acidity always suggests a long life ahead and the potential for improvement. It is fair to say that they pretty much were all brilliant, with significant potential for improvement in the cellar. They will grow old with you, including the whites.

Speaking of aging, I have indicated on some notes a couple that are accessible fairly young, like the Lagar. When you get to the powerhouses, though, even if I suggest you MIGHT be able to dive in around 2022, you should know that big Bagas (like the Alagoa and Poeirinho) really require cellar time. For many such wines—we’ll see where we are—they will likely show better around ten years from vintage date. Then, check in again. I’ve come across some 2001s of late that were just right around age 15. So, those are wines for people with cellars. It is also fair to say that 2015 is a very fine vintage for them—and for Niepoort in general. Over the next couple of decades or more, they will be firing on all burners.

Finally, have your expectations in order. These are not big, fleshy wines with lots of sweetness and sex appeal. They are crisp and elegant, with a cool-climate demeanor. Don’t drink them too warm.”

Mark Squires, Wine Advocate (232)