Taste the queen of Portugal's red grapes - Touriga Nacional

Posted by Joelle Thomson on

We have opened one of our top Portuguese red wines for you to taste in store this month under Coravin, so we thought it made sense to share details about what makes this wine so good.

The five year old 2016 Monte Da Cacada Touriga Nacional is one of our most age worthy reds on the Portuguese shelves here at Regional Wines & Spirits. It will reward more time in a temperature controlled wine cellar, away from light of course, but it also drinks nicely right now, thanks to being made from Touriga Nacional, the queen of Portugal's indigenous grapes.

This grape is widely regarded as the best quality grape of the wide range that go into the blends that make top quality port. Today, Touriga Nacional is also being used to make a growing number of high quality dry red wines. Touriga Nacional has small, thick skinned red grapes with deep colour and high tannins, making for impressively structured dark red wines with intense flavours. 

The history, mystery and story of Touriga Nacional

Touriga Nacional is thought to originate in the Dao region in Portugal and has been used in Australia to make the hybrid grape, Tarrango - a fruity, light red grape and wine. 

Touriga Nacional grows vigorously but has small bunches of small, thick skinned grapes which ripen mid season in Portugal's warm to hot climate in the Douro Valley; home to port. It makes deeply coloured red wines with intense perfumed black fruit flavours and high tannins, which act as a preservative to make age worthy red wines and ports. Until the end of the 19th Century, it made up nearly 100% of red grapes in Dao but this figure has now dropped to a miniscule 5%, due to phylloxera wiping out much of the plantings. 

The latest figures I could rustle up about Touriga Nacional plantings in Portugal today come from the 3.2kg book, Wine Grapes, which quotes a 2010 national figure of 7,268 hectares. This is slightly more than the entire plantings in Hawke's Bay, which makes it significant but not huge, in terms of numbers. It's the quality that counts, however, and this is something Touriga Nacional has in spades. 

Its high quality has also made it the darling of successful experimental plantings in Priorat in Spain, California in the USA and in parts of Australia. It is also grown, in limited numbers, in parts of South Africa, where it is often blended with other grapes to make smooth, big, dark red blends. 

If you're a fan of big full bodied dark red wines, try Touriga Nacional out for size - and complement it with a bottle of port while you're at it. Our wine specialists can point you in the right direction... 

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →