Touriga Nacional Wine Profile
Last Updated on September 3, 2023.
If Portugal had a signature grape, it would be Touriga Nacional. It’s admittedly typically blended in with many others for ports as well as for standard table wines, but it’s a workhorse. Touriga Nacional is grown throughout the country and can range from rustic and earthy to more elegant and refined. It also lends depth, color and aroma to blended wines, including ports.
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Since this is a variety that thrives in heat, expect deep and dark notes. On the nose, it shows blackberry, currant, and plum fruitiness with intense herbals like licorice and mint. On the palate, there tends to be a slate note running through its core, as well as surprising violet florality. Because Ports are blends, Touriga Nacional won’t be immediately recognizable but it certainly donates heft and fruit to these after-dinner favorites.
Although non-fortified Touriga Nacionals are higher in alcohol – usually weighing in around 14% or so – they are usually not jammy. It tends to yield wines perfect for Zinfandel or Syrah lovers who are looking to experiment without breaking the bank. And, since Portuguese wines are generally less expensive than their French counterparts, Touriga Nacional wines are a great way to start an affordable wine collection because they have remarkable aging potential.
For pairings, Touriga Nacional works best with dishes bold enough to stand up to its fruit and muscle. Portuguese cuisine is seafood-heavy, but Touriga Nacional works well with francesinha (a smoked meat sandwich), tripas de moda do porto (tripe stew), and even grilled octopus. And for those of us who don’t have Portuguese culinary chops at-the-ready, think grilled meats, barbecue, or even earthy winter stews.
Touriga Nacional can be found throughout Portugal. It is thought to originally be from the Dão or the Douro Valley – each region claims it as its own – but has more recently spread through Alentejo, Algarve, and Setúbal.
Despite its success in Portugal, Touriga Nacional is only grown in limited areas outside of its homeland for now. In California, growers in the Central Coast and Sierra Foothills AVAs have begun to produce some award-winning wines made from the grape, though its usually part of blends in both areas. Similarly, it can be found as part of port-like blends in South Africa and Australia.
If current climate trends continue towards hotter and drier summers, it will be interesting to see if more growers plant Touriga Nacional.
- Herdade do Rocim, Alentejo, Portugal
- Quinta do Passadouro, Douro, Portugal
- Casa Relvas, Herdade do São Miguel, Alentejano, Portugal
- FitaPreta Vinhos A Touriga Vai Nua, Alentejo, Portugal
- Adelaida, Twenty Three Twenty, Adelaida District, Central Coast, California
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Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.
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The Flavors of Touriga Nacional
On the nose, expect tones of blackberry, currant, and plum fruitiness with intense herbals like licorice and mint. On the palate, there tends to be a slate note running through its core, as well as surprising violet florality.
The Structure and Style of Touriga Nacional Wines
Sugar Dry or Sweet
Alcohol Medium Plus
Tannins Medium Plus