In my mind, the Niepoort Nat’Cool Branco is a Ferris Bueller of wines: Sunglasses on with a care-free attitude, skipping class for more cultural endeavors. It’s the rebel child of Dirk van der Niepoort—Bairrada-based producer known for elegant Portuguese wines and stellar ports. For the Nat’Cool label, he brought together a pack of his Portuguese winemaking friends to make groovy, low-SO2, low-alcohol wines. (So groovy, in fact, Niepoort offers a curated DJ set to go along with them).
Keep an eye on this project. Started in 2017, Niepoort keeps releasing limited-edition experimental projects from different producers. Douro’s Luis Pedro Candido (of Quinto do Carolina) rolled out a Beaujolais-style Touriga Nacional, while chef-turned-winemaker Vitor Claro rolled out a saucy Vinho Verde from the 2017 vintage. Luis Faisca in Dao crafted an SO2-free white wine. The recent 2018 Voyeur aged a field blend of local grapes in amphora for a gorgeous bouquet of violet, clay, and orange.
The Niepoort Nat’Cool Branco takes traditional Vinho Verde and turns it on its head: cloudy, pithy, and bottled with sugar and lees and refermented with malolactic fermentation in the bottle. When you crack it open, you get that tongue-tingling effervescence perfect for a sunny day.
Processes are in true natural style—grapes are hand-picked, with a focus on highlighting local terroir. But it’s one of the brightest wines I’ve had in a while: fresh, vibrant, citrusy and slightly sparkling with a saline finish. Chuggable, uncomplicated, and the perfect oh-summer-please-don’t-go wine. Did I mention it comes in a liter bottle?