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Grape varieties

Touriga Nacional

The National variety.

The name itself denounces it. It is the most national grape variety in Portugal (the most planted is the Iberian variety Tinta Roriz/Aragonês aka Tempranillo) and is widespread throughout continental Portugal and islands.
Throughout time it has had many different names, Touriga, Tourigão, Azal Tinta, Bical Tinto, Tourigo do Dão, Preto de Mortágua, being precisely these last two names that correlate its origin to Dão region. The first records of its planting date from the end of the 18th century, and it’s said that, before the phylloxera, in the middle of the 19th century, it was the most planted grape variety in this region. Although it was a variety appreciated throughout the country for its productivity, early ripening and resistance to disease, became an unloved variety as American rootstocks, a measure taken to avoid the spread of the phylloxera insect, reduced the production of the variety by 40%, making the production and commercialization of the variety not viable. Only later, during the 50’s and 60’s of the 20th century, its fame would be restored thanks to several studies that concluded that the vigor and yield could be controlled with appropriate rootstocks and pruning according to the type of soil and surrounding conditions.

Touriga Nacional produces relatively small bunches of 100 to 200 grams, has a thick skin that allows it to protect from the sun in hot environments such as the Alentejo and Douro Superior. Although is sensitive to scalding by shedding its leaves and exposing the bunches to the sun. Still, it’s a very plastic variety, and can produce wines with very distinct profiles depending on the soil, climate, and winemaking process. Without the use of barrels it provides elegant and fresh wines, and with the use of barrels (preferably French or Hungarian) this gives it complexity without hiding its aromatic component. Its aptitude for single-varietal and blended wines is unsurpassed, it produces fantastic entry level wines due to its distinctive and captivating aroma, and cellaring wines with the ability to age for more than 30 years due to its for over 30 years due to its ability to impart color, acidity, alcohol, and tannins. It has been acclaimed across borders and has come to prominence in regions such as Bordeaux in France and Victoria in Australia.

1.Touriga Nacional bunch.

The bluish skin allows the wines to acquire such levels of color when young that in blind tasting it is the purple ring in the glass that denounces it. It is also this characteristic that makes it a great variety for the production of Port wine, since the phenolic compounds and tannins present in the film preserve the wine over the years. In the tasting it surprises. Although as a red grape variety, shares with some white grape varieties the peculiarity of being a terpenic grape variety. This distinctive characteristic gives it floral aromas, particularly of violets, rose petals and orange blossoms. Also noteworthy are the aromas of red or black fruit, tea leaf, mint and the classic citrus aroma of bergamot or orange peel depending on the ripening period.

2. Touriga Nacional flavors and features – Wine Folly Magnum Edition Book.

The ability to produce different styles depending on region/climate or winemaking methods allows us to taste very distinctive Touriga Nacional wines. We leave you below some recommendations, so you can explore some samples of this Portuguese flagship variety.

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