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Monday, 19 September 2011

Dislike to Like – Niepoort Ruby Port

To date I have only reviewed Australian ports. However my next port, 'Niepoort Ruby' is from Portugal – Ports Origin.


Niepoort is located in the center of Vila Nova de Gaia. The vineyard has been divided into two locations for Harvest. Quinta de Nápoles where they produced the still wines and Vale de mendiz where they produce the port wines.

Quinta de Napoles was purchased by Niepoort in 1987. The Quinta includes nearly 30ha of vineyard. The vines are at an altitude of 180-250m and the age varies between 18 and more than 70 years. Located at the left margin of the Têdo river, this is where Niepoort makes their red, white and rosé wines. The former museum in Vale Mendiz was purchased by Niepoort in 2003 and converted to a vinification center for the Niepoort port wines.

Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as Port or Porto. Elsewhere, the situation is more complicated: wines labelled "Port" may come from anywhere in the world, while the names "Dão", "Oporto", "Porto", and "Vinho do Porto" have been recognised as foreign, non-generic names for wines originating in Portugal.

What is Ruby Port?
Ruby Port is classified as the entry level for port, however this does not necessarily mean it is the cheap off cuts. Ruby port is made from a select few grapes which give the Ruby Port its red colour. These grapes include Toriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cao, Tinto Barrocca and Toriga Francesca. It is aged in bulk for 2 to 3 years using a blend of grapes from varying vintages and is bottled 'young'.
After fermentation, it is stored to prevent the oxidisation process from occurring and to preserve its rich red colour. Often the wine will be blended to match the style of the brand to which it will be sold. The wine is fined and cold filtered before bottling and does not generally improve with age. For this reason it is best to consume immediately.

The Niepoort Ruby Port wine originates from low yielding old vineyards in the Cima Corgo Region of the Douro Valley. The grapes are predominantly trodden in Lagares, prior to ageing in large wooden vats at their lodges in Gaia and bottled with an average age of 3 years.

The PORT Experience
of Niepoort Ruby

Produced: Niepoort (Vinhos) S.A.
Region: Douro
Soil Type: Schist
Vines: Cima Corgo
Average Vine Age: Over 30 years
Cast Varieties: Touriga Nacional,Touriga Franca,Tinto Cão,Tinta Francisca,Tinta Amarela, Sousão, Tinta Roriz and others
Vines per Ha: 4000 - 6000
Way of Harvest: Hand picked
Fermentation: Lagares/Foot Treading
Ageing: Large old oak casks
Residual Sugar: 102,3 g/ L
Baumé: 3,6
PH: 3,66
Total Acidity: 4,13 g/L Tartaric Acid
Size: 750ml bottle
Alcohol/volume: 20%
Closure: Cork
Retails Currently: $32.99AUD

I was very excited to have been given this Port and could barely wait to open it and explore the flavours within. Coming from a design background, I had often admired the dark bottle contrasting against the soft scripted logo and only hoped that one day soon I would get the opportunity to try this port... And I did.

However I must confess, I was not impressed with this Port to begin with. In fact I disliked it so much that I cringed at the thought of drinking it. This may have been due to the fact I lack the tasting experience of a variety of Ports especially quality ones or it may have been something else entirely. I found it had lacked the sweetness that was contained in most of the ports I previously tasted and that it was quite overpowering on the palette. It resembled more of a young wine than Port – Well what I had identified the flavours of a Port to be. I know that sounds ridiculous, but in the end it basically boiled down to the fact that I was expecting something different. I continued to persist on drinking the Port as unpleasurable as it was for me, waste not want not I always say, only to soon discover I had come to embrace the flavour.

How did this happen? I had sat down and commenced telling my father how this port was too intense for my Palette, poured him (and myself of course) two-fingers worth into a glass and we began to sample the port. To my surprise I found the Port drinkable, bearable and quite nice. Curious as to how my opinion could change so dramatically overnight, I soon came to realise that the coffee I had just consumed altered the flavour to a more pleasant and enjoyable one. From this day on with or without coffee I had experienced the flavours in a whole new light. Amazingly enough, all that was required was a mind change and the flavours having been altered by the coffee did just that.

The Niepoort Ruby is Dark Red in colour with light aromas of spice and dark fruits. The flavours are rich in cherries and blackberries and is quite smooth like a wine. The finish follows through smoothly from the front of the palette to sit at the back for a brief period of time.

What I got out of this tasting experience is that if you find you do not like something once, twice or even more try and try again. Do not stick to the same routine or foods, try and experiment a little. Cheese, chocolate and coffee are just some foods and flavours that can help neutralise or enhance flavours.

The worst that can happen is that you still dislike the flavour, the best that can happen as it was for me here, is that you will enjoy and embrace in the new found flavours you've just experienced.

So please – Join me next time, as we share in "The PORT Experience"
Na zdrowie!

Two Fingers

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