After yesterday’s teaser,
I owe you the truth.
Dirk van der Niepoort had paid me a visit the first year I settled in Corneilla but I had not been able to show him any bottle, of course. He tasted all the wines direct from the tank and found them “robust” at the time, probably lacking elegance as compared to his standards.
He again called on us early in December last year, tasted a large selection of our bottled wines and had a go at all the tank samples I could show him. We also went for a little bit of tourism on the seaside, his 21 year old son, Daniel, taking a glimpse at the Mediterranean for the very first time.
The next day, I found a message on my mobile – which I seldom use – telling me he had some ideas about what was going on here and “Could we talk about it, please ?”. You bet we did.
Basically, Dirk liked the wines he tasted here but, knowing me well and considering me a man of strong opinions, thought there could be an alternative approach to my very solid vineyard-specific cuvée’s. He is, among other things, a very astute blender in the first place. His own father was arguably the best blender in the trade himself.
So, he made me an offer for collaboration: he would ship a very good container (which type is still under consideration, two classical Portuguese pipas or one Fuder of outstanding German origin) made of the best oak but already much used : we don’t want any vanilla or eucalyptus gimmick. We would then age a blended red wine for one year, in order to obtain a for sure still solid wine, but graced with a distinctive “Niepoort’s touch”. By this is meant a wine keeping all the purity of our slatey soils (similar to Cima Corgo) but more civilised and rendered finer still. You can imagine I at once agreed with enthusiasm.
The whole process is ongoing now : it will be a “Vin de France”, vintage 2013. We have started sorting out the individual wines we want for the blend. Some of the Clots d’en Couloms grenache will be part of it – a vineyard planted in 1995 in Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet (in the Maury district), which produces every year the grapes full of fresh fruitiness responsible for my fortified wines. But obviously, my friend insisted on resorting to our subtle old carignan (1922) as well, the one which eventually becomes the refined Cuvée La Loute, to insure additional elegance and finesse.
So, for the time being, I’m modifying the inside of an old concrete tank I use as storage room - the front pannel of which had been broken to pieces and taken away - in order to accomodate the vat(s). It is located at the coolest place of the cellar, far away from all the rest of the wine-making facilities and storage, and with an easy access to it.
I cannot wait to start filling the vat
and I will keep you up-to-date
of the future developments.
Thank you Dirk for this exciting adventure !
*: In Vino Veritas has been Niepoort’s motto since 1842 and is also the title of the
Belgian magazine I have been part of for 10 years