Niepoort, the Portuguese producer of well-known Port wines, was founded in the mid-19th century when Franciscus Marius van de Niepoort of Holland moved to Portugal and became a Port negociant. Today the business is still run by the Niepoort family, which owns vineyards in the Douro Valley and has in recent decades acquired additional estates. Niepoort makes aged and non-aged Ports and is also now making well-received table wines. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that Niepoort’s “white wines are among the best in Portugal” and that the red wine known as Batuta “is one of Portugal’s most sought-after trophies.”
Douro is Portugal’s most prestigious appellation, thanks to the fact that the country’s famous Port wines have always come from the Douro. Douro, the appellation, is named for the Douro River which runs through northern Portugal. The region is mountainous and rocky, with very poor soil and harsh weather conditions because of proximity to the Atlantic. Nevertheless, vineyards have always existed there on terraced parcels of land surrounded by walls to protect the vines from wind. Most of the famous Port makers have quintas, or estates, in this region. In recent decades the Douro has developed a reputation for table wines as well as Ports, and today there are two sub-appellations within the Douro, one for table wines and one for Port. Numerous grapes are allowed within the Douro, but the main red grapes grown are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo.) The main white grapes are Esgana Cao, Folgosado and Verdelho. Besides the historic connection to Port wines – which were highly coveted in England and other parts of Europe as early as the 17th century – the region is also home to Portugal’s best table wines, including Barca Velha.