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Winegrower of the Year: Dirk van der Niepoort


TV moderator Barbara Schöneberger presents Dirk van der Niepoort with his prize from German culinary magazine Der Feinschmecker. The Portuguese winemaker was honoured as Winegrower of the Year at the Wine Awards gala presentation.

Dirk van der Niepoort @ Timelapse Media

‘Dirk van der 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 in spite of this he figures as the most innovative and most successful grower in Portugal’s Douro River Valley.’

This is how the jury from German gourmet magazine Der Feinschmecker accounted for their choice of the Portuguese winemaker as Winzer des Jahres.

Self-taught winegrower
As a matter of fact, 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 case! – was known for producing grapes for Port wines, has developed in to a highly respected appellation for impressive red wines and mineral-driven white wines. Niepoort has played an extremely important role in this process. When he vinified his first red wine in 1987, he was laughed-at and criticised – but since then, he has become widely imitated. From year to year, his wines became finer and more elegant, exhibiting greater presence and composure. Even today, Niepoort’s wines stand out in every Douro tasting for their great finesse and elegance.
And it may even have worked to Niepoort’s advantage, that he had no classical training as a winemaker. He approaches the region’s wines with the eyes and the palate of a wine taster with extensive international experience. He seeks to recognise the special characteristics of each terroir, looking to perceive the distinctive nature of a region as articulated in its wines. His guiding principle is, wherever he goes, that the wine should be elegant, refreshing and stimulating. Even in the hot and dry Douro Valley, he is successful at vinifying wines that are marvellously lively and elegant.

An honour for Portugal as well
Dirk van der Niepoort: ‘It is always lovely receive another award… But I am especially glad about this one, because the quality of the competition – and that of the entire event – is really quite remarkable. I feel honoured, to be able to take this trophy back to Portugal with me. It is also 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 as well, he and Dorli Muhr work together operating an extremely successful 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 winners of the Wine Awards From left: Collection of the year: Sabine Mosbacher-Düringer, Pfalz. Wine-gourmet of the year: Harold Faltermeyer. Wine-legend: Ernst Loosen. Newcomer of the year: Piero Incisa della Rocchetta, Stehend: Lifetime achievement award: Manfred Tement. Moderator Barbara Schöneberger. Award of Honour: Jens Priewe. Winemaker of the year: Dirk van der Niepoort @ Der Feinschmecker

About Niepoort
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.

Quinta de Nápoles im Douro Tal @ Rita Burmester

Vinhos da Mesa
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. In the German-language sphere, the wine is called Fabelhaft (Fabulous), and is outfitted with a label in the style of Wilhelm Busch. 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!

If you have questions, or would like photographs in print-ready resolution, please contact Andrea Schultes, Wine&Partners: or T: +43 1 369 79 900

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