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2016-07-14 10:29:00
My relation with Niepoort
My relation with Niepoort and some thoughts about it and around it
2016-07-05 10:29:00
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My relation with Niepoort

My relation with Niepoort



a)    Intro

Niepoort is for me an Institution, rather than a company or a brand.

I was as young as 6, and I already knew all the cornerstones of the then main warehouse in Serpa Pinto: The Cathedral; because I went there with my grandfather on Saturdays. He reserved is Saturday’s to work quietly on blending and took me with him several times. I normally accompanied him around and I was presented in the end with a miniature of a port wine bottle (I still has the collection intact minus one example of Niepoort VV which I gave as a gift to Dirk Niepoort 2 years ago).

For many years Niepoort meant wine to me. And the Niepoort’s way of doing wasn’t one way, but The Way. And still is…

b)    Niepoort as… A Launch Machine

A major component of Niepoort’s success should be the tenet of informing consumers, not selling to them. Instead of being in a "selling mode," Niepoort should focus on educating consumers on what a Wine is, why it exists and how it can improve their happiness and lives. In fact, we should differentiate the two, saying marketing is not the same as selling. This idea of teaching rather than selling speaks to Niepoort’s mantra of making the best possible products, which in turn will sell themselves. The products are sold because they are good and not because they are imposed to the consumers.

That’s One first remark: Make the Best possible products, which in turn will sell themselves.

c)    Niepoort as… A Concept

Niepoort does not consider any single wine to be his best work, but instead points to an idea that customers still value high-quality craftsmanship. That Niepoort has seen such huge success with its wines, which are by no means cheap, proves that many consumers still put value in quality over savings. 

We're surrounded by anonymous, poorly made wines. It's tempting to think it's because the people who drink them don't care — just like the people who make them. But what Niepoort have shown is that people do care. 

Consumers who buy Niepoort wines don't simply like a Charme or Batuta or Redoma or even a Fabelhaft because it looks nice or are told to Taste nice, but because they care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made.

Niepoort make and sell a very, very large number of (hopefully) nice, well-made wines. Niepoort’s success is a victory for purity, integrity — for giving a damn.

The product you have in your hand, or smell with your nose, or Taste is more personal than the product you have over your table or wear. The struggle to make something as difficult and demanding as a wine is so intimately personal is what first attracted Niepoort at the beginning of the XX century with Dirk Niepoort grandfather and my grandfather José Nogueira, accompanied by great grandfather until 1970. People have an incredibly personal relationship with what Niepoort make.

That’s a Second Remark: Niepoort special attention to detail on the craftsmanship of its wines delivering to consumers what Niepoort think they want

I can’t resist to share a famous quote from my grandfather José Nogueira: “We (master blenders) make the wine we like, and hope the people who will Taste it, like it as we like.”

d)    Niepoort and critics

As an entrepreneur and family company you’ll hear a lot of people tell you that you need to reach out and figure out what people want, which means listening to your critics, often times more patiently than you’d like.

Niepoort decides to flip the script and instead focus on producing what want to produce, no matter the perceived cost. When Niepoort debuted the Douro table wines, the critics said that it would fail. The numbers say otherwise. 

Each and every time Niepoort team, namely is leader Dirk Niepoort, decided to innovate, they were laughed at. They prevailed anyway.

Albert Einstein said: “Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

That’s a Third Remark: Niepoort loves to listen, but in the end it decides on its own.

e)    Communicate in the Language of Your Audience

It makes no sense to talk about things like tannins, Ph., and So2 free to customers that simply don’t care about technical jargon. Take a look at any Niepoort product technical note and you’ll find that though they do discuss wine specifications and technical information, it’s hidden behind the benefits that their audience is truly after.

Instead of total acidity, you’ll see phrases like “foot treading,” “smooth maceration”, “low temperature fermentation”, “almost non-human intervention”

Sure, the jargon is there for those that need it, but it’s presented in a way that makes you want to learn about wine making, rather than shy away from them.

That’s a Forth Remark: Niepoort speaks the way normal people understand and not as a scientist who speaks to himself

f)    Build a Tribe

It’s no secret that Niepoort is building one of the most hard-core fan bases of any other Douro wine producer. There’s a reason we should call them “Niepoortboys&girls.”

But who cares, right? Most of the chatter is out of jealousy more than anything, but Niepoort doesn’t really care. They know that they serve an elite audience, and rather than back away from that fact, they embrace it. Not an economic elite, but an elite within wine: an elite that loves to Taste and learn. And Niepoort give them what they need, the products to Taste, learn and love.

That’s a Fifth Remark: Niepoort created a trend of followers, unfortunately no one is from winemaking until now…

---The End and a Conclusion

As a Niepoortboy, as you could see from the writings preceding, I’m a believer on the Niepoort’s way. And I respect Niepoort as my grandfather taught me: not running around the Cathedral in order to not disturb the wine; and respect any Niepoort product as it represents a lot of careful work of many people behind it.

I was introduced to wine Taste, learn and love by my grandfather which lived the wine the Niepoort’s way, actually he was one of the craft man contributing to what I call now the Niepoort’s way. He died in 2009, and I become an orphan on the wine theme… in 2012 I bought the Tralhão vineyard, and Dirk Niepoort occupied the place of my grandfather as my reference of the Niepoort’s way.

By now, I’m launching my own products: the Tralhão red and white from the vintage of 2013 in Douro, from my own vineyard; and I take the Niepoort’s way further: respecting Time and Nature. From vine to the bottle with a special care for details, even on the experience of opening the wine case. Even creating a stamp for the wine case with the inscription: “smoothly… deeply” with a nose… because my grandfather always told me before Taste: smell… smell smoothly… and then smell deeply.

Dirk helped me on the wine making of Tralhão wines, starting in 2013. Wines he and I love to Taste and about which we expect people to Taste and love, as we do. Many thanks for all the support Dirk, and to all at Niepoort for the way they work which is for me, more than a way of doing, a respect for the references of the past.

São Félix da Marinha, 14th July 2016

Miguel Couto Ramos