If you're into pet nats and funky new wave wines, these two new wines from Portugal will rock your wine world. Both are new in from Niepoort, a highly respected port producer whose winemaker Dirk Niepoort is now turning his winemaking talents to still wines without fortification.
Two new wines from Portugal
The enticingly named Drink Me Cool Branco and Drink Me Cool red are both made from indigenous Portugueuse grape varieties.
The white is a funky new take on the vinho verde theme, blending five varieties, Azal, Arinto, Avesso, Trajadura and Loureiro, into one super tasty 'pet nat'. This abbreviation stands for petillant natural and refers to wine's lightly sparkling style which owes its flavours and fizz to being fermented in the bottle with a little residual grape sugar for fermentation. It is not disgorged so it remains cloudy, due to the yeast lees (decomposing yeast cells, following fermentation in the bottle).
Winemaker Dirk van Niepoort is a descendant of and head winemaker for the well known port house, Niepoort.
Drink Me Cool White
2020 Niepoort Drink Me Nat Cool Vinho Branco RRP $28.99
While this wine fits the bill of being a 'pet nat' (petillant natural - lightly sparkling), this one comes to us at relatively low pressure with just a smidgeon of residual sugar to create a light fizz and modest alcohol of 11.5% ABV. The wine has not been disgorged so some lees remain in the bottle.
The grapes in Drink Me Vinho Branco are grown in two areas of Vinho Verde, Amarante and Lousada. The vine average 25 to 30 years old and grow at between 100 to 150 metres above sea level on granite soils. All are picked by hand and fermented using wild yeasts.
This wine is bottled with no sulphur.
Serve it as is or shake it all up for a tasty, leesy complex version of vinho verde with attitude.
Drink Me Cool red
2020 Niepoort Drink Me Nat Cool Vermelho Bairrada RRP $28.99
This lively Portuguese red is a light, fruity, juicy, floral and fresh expression of the robust Baga grape variety. It's soft and easy drinking, even when lightly chilled, which suits this wine down to the ground. Portuguese winemaker Dirk Niepoort loves the native Portuguese red Baga grape, describing it as "Like Nebbiolo in Piedmont or Pinot Noir in Burgundy: it needs the right plot and proper handling in the winery. Baga and Bairrada (the region) are the best combination of Portuguese red.”
Hand picked Baga grapes were grown on 40 to 100 years old vines and fermented with wild yeasts, including a portion of carbonic maceration for softness. The entire ferment was in stainless steel tanks.
This wine was bottled with no sulphur.