Navazos Niepoort This an interesting wine. Now there’s a understatement. This is a joint venture between Dirk Niepoort, of Douro wine and Port fame, and the Spanish company Equipo Navazos who are a top end Sherry negociant buying and selling barrels of Sherry. It is said that this wine is a good representation of how wine was made in the Jerez region two centuries or more ago.
See all Niepoort Wines available at FarehamWine Cellar here.
Navazos Niepoort Vino Blanco is made from 100% Palomino grapes (the main Sherry grape) harevested from the chalky Albariza vineyards that the Spanish Sherry region of Jerez de La Frontera is famous for. After gentle pressing of the grapes, followed by fermentation with wild yeast in old (40 years old) 600L American oak casks (called “bota”) is racked back into the same cask for ageing. Here it aged for 7 months on fine less under a veil (more commonly known as Flor) or layer of yeast. The casks are only filled to 5/6 of their capacity so that these yeast develop. There is no malolactic fermentation. So basically this could be thought of as a non-fortified Sherry that does not go through the Solera process! As it is not fortified the wine is bottled at 12.5% abv compared with the 15 to 22% abv that one usually associated with Sherries.
Navazos Niepoort Tasting Notes (2011 Vintage, tasted 07/13)
The 2011 Navazos Niepoort has a good, clear, pale, golden straw colour. The nose is very floral / blossomy with green apple aromas, however there is also a definite Sherry nose of rancio, flor and yeasty notes. There are also some honey and slightly oxidative notes that one might expect of a wine made in this style. The palate is fresh, light and clean. It is very round with more apple flavours but, again, there is a pungent, Sherry-like tang (similar in characteristics to a Fino or Manzanilla). A very bizarre, yet extremely interesting wine!
When would you serve it? I would say that I would use this in exactly the same way as a dry Sherry, as an aperitif before a meal or tapas or perhaps with other dishes where a Sherry might be too over-powering. This would be great with shellfish and particularly prawn dishes.
Niepoort is constantly experimenting with his Projectos range but I believe this wine is one of only two Spanish wines Dirk has put his name to, the other being a 100% Mencia called Ladreda from Ribera Sacra made in 2008 and 2009. Navazos Niepoort has been made in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Even then Dirk seems to be hedging his bets – I notice he uses the Portuguese term for bottled, “emgarrafado”, instead of the Spanish term. Does that make this label illegal? I wonder. I hope he perseveres with this one – it is certainly different.