The Proust Q&A: Dirk Niepoort

Born in 1964 to a distinguished family of Dutch Port shippers, with his wild mop of curly hair and huge personality, Dirk Niepoort is the face of the “New Douro” and has done much to modernise and promote the Portuguese wine region. His first release was four barrels of Robustus in 1990, following up with table wine Redoma a year later. He has since gone on to push the boundaries of Portuguese viticulture in his aim to produce Portugal’s best table wine. The self-trained winemaker lives in Vila Nova de Gaia with his wife and three children.

Dirk

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The simple things in life usually make me happy.

What is your greatest fear? 

Family problems.

Who do you most admire?

There are many people I admire. Apart from my father and our blenders Jose and Zeze, people like Wilhelm Haag, Angelo Gaia, Steve Jobs and many more.

What is your greatest extravagance?

A tasting of the “best” wine of each year from 1900 to 1999 in Finland.

What is your current state of mind? 

Dazed and confused.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? 

Individuality, tenderness and understanding me a little bit.

What words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Freshness” and “mineral”. 

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

Apart from my children and my wife a thing called Niepoort. 

When and where were you happiest?

At Niepoort many times and when travelling in my camper van.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To be able to draw.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My patience and stubborness helped me get somewhere.

Where would you most like to live?

Right where I am in Porto.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My patience and being able to think 20 years ahead.

Who are your favorite writers?

Milan Kundera.

Who is your hero of fiction?

I don’t like fiction.

What is it that you most dislike?

People having a nasty side to them, which is very often related to greed and jealousy.

What is your motto?

Less is more.

Who would be your ideal dinner party guests and what three wines would you serve?

It would be with three friends. I won’t reveal their names because they’re not famous but I love sharing wine with each of them and the three together would be wonderful. I’d also like to have my wife and two sons Marco and Daniel around the table and my daughter Anna who is too young to drink.

As there are so many people I’d be allowed more wines, so would kick things off with a magnum of Bollinger 1964, moving on to Leflaive Bienvenue Batard Montrachet 1985. As we ease into the evening, I’d pour Hermitage La Chapelle 1961, followed by Château Margaux from 1900, which I haven’t tried yet.

To try and top that, I’d then go for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1966, followed by a magnum of Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux 1978. Towards the end of the evening the Port would have to come out in the form of Taylor’s 1924 and Niepoort Colheita 1908. I think that would just about do us.

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