Port is one of the great fortified wines of the world. Even though it’s not particularly fashionable at the moment, many wine drinkers keep a special place in their heart – and their drinks cabinets – for Port. On top of the usual Vintage and LBV Ports there are lots of new styles being created such as Bottle-matured LBV and Rosé Port.
Then we have “dry” Douro reds which are dark, tannic and powerful – though full of fruit. In some ways they really are dry Ports, made from the same grapes, full-bodied and occasionally surpassing 15%. The quality of Douro table wines has improved significantly over the past decade or two (as has most Portuguese wine) so they are generally well-received.
….and now for something completely different…
Niepoort Clos de Crappe Douro 2013 (12.5%, RRP €23)
So first you notice the name – pretty amusing in my opinion, especially when you realise it sounds quite like “a load of crap“, but then I have quite a childish sense of humour. At least it stands out!
Then you notice the verses on the label – what the actual heck is this? You can just about make out one of them on the photo above, here’s another:
A modern old style wine.
A wine full of character, some mistakes.
Technically a disaster.
But a wine full of passion and expression.
A wild , intense nose full of reduction.
A palate “the incredible lightness of being”.
Fine, elegant and very long.
“What the hell is Clos de Crappe?”
How novel! It really seems as though Niepoort were having a lot of fun with this wine and its packaging – and I think more producers should take note.
When reading the label you might also notice the alcohol – only 12.5%, which is a far cry from the typical big Douro reds. Before popping the cork, you already know that the contents are going to be something different.
Then finally the wine itself. In the glass it’s much lighter than most Portuguese reds, and really brings the funk on the nose (regular readers may have noticed that I love funky wines). Smoke and “struck-match” reductive notes add to the intrigue.
Then to taste, red fruit is in abundance, with fresh acidity and a light mouthfeel. This wine drops large Burgundian hints, though of course the local grapes (Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Sousão, Alicante de Bouschet, Rufete and others) are different.
Tasted blind, I would never place this wine in the Douro. Even though I had poured it out of the bottle myself, I had some doubts! It’s a wonderful wine…but the sting in the tail is that production is very small, and only a few cases allocated to Ireland. Seek it out before it all goes!
Many thanks to Ben and Barbara from WineMason who parted with one of their precious bottles.