Dirk van der Niepoort, the Portuguese winemaker has been honoured as winegrower of the year at the Wine Awards gala presentation by German culinary magazine Der Feinschmecker.
Over the past two decades, Dirk van der Niepoort has been the motivating force behind the quality revolution in the Douro. The region, which in the best cases, was producing grapes for Port wine has developed into a highly respected appellation for impressive red wines and mineral-driven white wines.
Niepoort has played an extremely important role in the process. When he vinified his first red wine in 1987, he was laughed at and even criticised but he has now been widely imitated. From year to year, his wines improve and become finer and more elegant.
The winemaker had no classical training as a winemaker. He approached the region’s wines with the eyes and the palate of a wine taster with extensive international experience. His philosophy is to recognise the specific characteristics of each terroir.
Niepoort is a personality on the international wine scene whose wines have for years consistently figured among the elite, and who enjoys a reputation as a grower which reaches far beyond the borders of his native land. he never had any formal training as a winemaker and never studied oenology at university but still figures as the most innovative and most successful grower in Portugal’s Douro River Valley said the jury of German gourmet magazine Der Feinschmecker.
He said it was an honour for him to be able to take this trophy back to Portugal. “It offers solid confirmation of the extent to which the Douro Valley has worked its way to the top of the world of wine in recent years.’
Dirk van der Niepoort loves wine – and there is most likely no other grower in the world who produces so many various wines with so many widely diverse ideas behind them as he does. In recent years, Dirk has expanded his activities beyond the Douro Valley and is now also making wine in Dão, in Bairrada and in Vinho Verde. In Austria he is partner at an estate in the winegrowing region Carnuntum (Muhr-van der Niepoort), while on the Mosel in Germany he is pursuing a project in collaboration with Philipp Kettern and his son Daniel (Fio).
The family, of Dutch origins, has made their home in Portugal since 1842. Dirk is now the fifth generation managing the family business – which for the first four generations concentrated exclusively on making Port. It was back in the 1980s that Dirk van der Niepoort began to conduct his first experiments with red wine; this ultimately led him to acquire the then-dilapidated Quinta de Nápoles in 1987, and one year later the adjacent Quinta do Carril. Since 2007, all wines are vinified in the landmark cellar designed by architect Andreas Burghardt.
The most famous wines from Niepoort are Redoma (the first red vintage was produced in 1991, while the first white was vinified in 1997), Batuta (first vintage 1999) and Vertente. These were later followed by the legendary Charme and the white Coche. He has enjoyed worldwide success with his basic Douro red, which is named differently according to the export market. Niepoort wanted to ease the ‘fear of the unfamiliar’ that the consumer potentially felt concerning the Portuguese nomenclature. The rousing success of this project, which continues unabated to this day, was a huge surprise even for Dirk himself.
Dirk van der Niepoort is a founding member of the Portuguese winegrower’s group ‘Douro Boys’ (Quinta do Vallado, Quinta do Crasto, Niepoort, Quinta Vale D. Maria, Quinta do Vale Meão), constantly underway worldwide since 2003, striving to make the Douro Valley and its distinctive wines better known. These growers are not just tops in the Douro, but figure among the best and most famous winemakers in all of Portugal! www.douroboys.com