N.B Please check here for current vintages of Niepoort Colheita.
We have just taken delivery of a couple of new bottlings of Niepoort Colheita Port, the 1986 and 2001 vintages. A Colheita Port is a Tawny (i.e a wood-aged, rather than bottle-aged) Port from a single vintage that has to be aged for at least 7 years in barrel.
Niepoort is considered to a bit of a specialist in Colheita Port, so it is always interesting to have a look at his new bottlings. For the uninitiated it is always a good idea to have a look at the bottling date on a Colheita Port bottle. The bottle will always say what year it is “bottled in” or emgarrafado em in Portuguese. This is important because two Colheita Ports from the same year may be bottled in different years and could have quite markedly different characteristics. For example, the new stock of Niepoort Colheita 1986 was bottled in 2012 but could equally as early as 1993 i.e. after 7 years barrel ageing. The Niepoort Colheita 2001 vintage that we have just taken delivery of was bottled in 2013. As Tawny Port ages in the barrel (it is basically slowly oxidising and interacting with the oak barrel) it becomes more light and tawny in colour and nuttier, walnut, caramel and woody notes come to the fore as more vibrant, red fruit characterics mellow out.
As you can see Dirk Niepoort often ages his Colheita Ports for a lot longer than the 7 years required but, it is very interesting to see, he has just release a bottling of 2005 Colheita, which is quite an early release by his standards. From the Niepoort website – “Niepoort Colheitas are bottled with at least 10 years of ageing in small old oak casks; but since the Colheita 2005 was showing so well in early 2013, it was decided to start bottling it earlier so as to capture the wonderful freshness and personality in the wine.”
Find the tasting notes from the Niepoort website below,
“Wonderful brick red/brown colour. Delightful vinous aroma, well integrated with dried fruits aromas. A unique flavour reminiscent of dried prunes and apricots on the palate, leading to an elegant spirity finish.”
“Tawny / brown in colour with vivacious hints of orange; on the aroma, hints of caramelized marmalade which are all very subdued and refined. The palate is a wonderful example of freshness, definition which leads through to a lengthy spirity finish.”
Two great things about serving Colheita Port are 1) the Port does not need decanting (checkout my guide to decanting Port) and 2) once opened the Port will keep quite well for a number of weeks (and even longer in the fridge), certainly much longer than a vintage Port. There is some debate around the subject of how long Tawny Ports keep having been opened but Peter Symington recommends, “aged Tawny Ports are not designed to age in bottle and therefore should not be kept in a cellar for further ageing. As they have always lived in an oxygenated atmosphere they do not deteriorate quickly when opened and can be kept for a month or so after being opened.”
Colheita Ports are best served at room temperature or slightly chilled. When chilled Tawny Ports are a lighter, refreshing drink that are great for summer drinking when one might find a Vintage Port a bit too big and rich. They can be served as an aperitif, this is very popular in France, but are also served after a meal too, which is more likely in the UK. As a food wine Niepoort Colheita is extremely versatile – Colheitas are a great dessert wine, brilliant with creme caramel or desserts with dried fruit and nuts but they are equally a good food wine pairing with foie gras, all sorts of cheeses. However, there is nothing wrong just drinking it on its own whilst complating one’s own navel!