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Posted by portugalpress on September 27, 2018

This is – please correct me if I am wrong – Portugal’s most expensive Pinot Noir with a rather hefty price tag of €39.95 (Apolónia), which is enough money to buy a fairly decent bottle of Burgundy.

I have tried this Pinot from the Niepoort winery in the Douro Valley a few times over the years and have always been of the opinion that, whilst excellent, it is overpriced. But with the Apolónia wine fair still on and the price of this wine reduced by 25%, I decided to give it another go.

First of all, I will have to say that it was enjoyed down to the last drop with some nice veal chops cooked on the barbecue last weekend. It would be difficult to find a better match.

The wine is not made by Dirk Niepoort himself, but rather by a guest winemaker, Jean Pierre Guyon, from Burgundy. Dirk reciprocated by making his own Pinot Noir at Jean Pierre’s winery, Domain Guyon, over in France, but that’s another story.

But French winemaker or not, what we have here is a Pinot Noir that reminds me more of the style made in California, with intense upfront fruit and much more body than we would associate with a Pinot from Burgundy. The Frenchman has clearly let the terroir of the Douro do the talking.

The wine is light to medium bodied with rich red fruits on the nose and well-integrated oak, with subtle notes of tobacco and leather, silky smooth tannins and a very long, fresh finish. All in all, a very elegant wine and a top-quality Pinot in the New World style.

But is it the best Pinot in Portugal? This would depend upon the style of Pinot preferred and, with my own preference being for the lighter style, my favourite Portuguese Pinot, irrespective of price, is Quinta do Rol from the Lisbon region. They still have the 2009 at Apolónia, usually costing €29.92 but now at €19.95 with 30% discount. Another favourite, and the lightest and most Burgundian in style of any of them is Casal Sta Maria, from the Tejo region, usually costing €23.95 and now €17.95 with 25% discount. The Apolónia wine fair ends on September 30.

By Patrick Stuart