A thick-skinned red grape native to Portugal, Touriga Nacional was named after the town Tourigo. Originally used in Port wines, Touriga Nacional can be found in single varietal wines that tend to be full bodied and high in tannins. It is also occasionally blended with Touriga Franca and Tempranillo, which helps balance the bold wine with spicy and fruity notes. A grape that can produce both sweet and dry wines, Touriga Nacional has notes of blueberry, violets, plum, Mediterranean herbs, and wet slate. It’s perfect alongside roasted lamb, white bean stew, and chorizo.
Around 18,000 acres in Portugal are dedicated to Touriga Nacional, with 3,500 acres in Douro, Portugal. In the steep valley of the Douro river, decomposing schist can be found, which lends itself to producing small, highly concentrated Touriga Nacional wines with notes of black currant, vanilla, violet, and roasted meat.
Meanwhile, Dão is much higher in elevation, and receives more rainfall, which produces wines that are lighter and have a touch more acidity. Notes of boysenberry, black cherry, bergamot, and Earl Grey tea are prominent due to the region’s sandy, granite soils. Smatterings of Touriga Nacional can also be found in California, Virginia, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand.
Whet your whistle with these Touriga Nacional wines:
Grape Photo Courtesy of UC Davis