Delaforce: Portuguese reds should be competing with top Bordeaux

Portugal’s dry red wines are now of such high quality that they should now be competing with top Bordeaux, according to Niepoort winemaker Nick Delaforce.

Nick Delaforce of Niepoort believes Portugal’s reds have come of age

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to Porto, Delaforce said: “A decade ago Portugal’s dry reds were the new kid on the block but they’ve come a long way since then.

“We make and sell twice as much dry wine as we do Port and there are plenty of dry reds that command higher prices than Port.

“The dry reds sell very well in Portugal. The next challenge is to jump the fence in the UK and put Portuguese dry wines on the map. The best are good enough quality now to be competing with top Bordeaux and Burgundy.”

Delaforce believes Portugal has a trump card in its bounty of native grape varieties and old vine vineyards.

“Winemakers in the US and Australia would give anything to have the same spectacular diversity of grape varieties that we have in Portugal and I see great potential in them as a chance for us to show the world how we’re unique.

Among the native grapes Delaforce believes could do well as solo acts are Tinto Cão, which means ‘red dog’, Bastardo, known as Trousseau in France, and red fleshed grape Sousão.

However, he believes blends make for “more complete” wines than single varietal expressions, particularly when made from old vine vineyards.

His and owner Dirk Niepoort’s approach to dry winemaking in Portugal is to show a more elegant side to the reds, with Niepoort taking inspiration from Burgundy and Piedmont.

“It’s the easiest thing to make high sugar, alcoholic reds in the Douro – we want to show that the reds can be something else, and are going more towards acid, elegance and vivaciousness. Balance, freshness and drinkability are key for us,” Delaforce told db.

He believes Portugal’s dry reds are “slowly but surely” gaining global recognition and can now be found on many top restaurant wine lists around the world.

“Dry Portuguese wines have come a long way and are very serious now – the challenge is to get the message out and let people know that these wines exist.

“People are always looking for new things and we can fill a gap with something different and original,” he said.

Niepoort’s dry reds sell for high prices – Charme (pictured right), Dirk’s take on Burgundy, costs £50 a bottle, Robustus, a reinvention of the first wine he ever produced, costs £70, and Turris, a single vineyard red made from 130-year-old vines, costs £120.

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