Dezel is willing to bet that you too have had some Touriga in your glass - you just may not have known it. Touriga Nacional, as I have been told, does rather well here in Virginia. It can be found in a number of blended wines with fanciful names such as Ruby (Hillsborough), Sojourn (Grayhaven), and Stone Castle Red (Horton). It’s also added to some varietal wines to add complexity and zest. Additionally, a number of local Port style wines typically have a significant amount of Touriga Nacional in the blend. (I’m sure you have heard of the popular Port styled wine Snort, produced by Winery at La Grange.)
Touriga Nacional has been a staple in Portuguese viticulture for ages, and is the principal grape used in making Port wines. In the best Vintage Port wines, Touriga Nacional plays an expanded role. Touriga Nacional is said to be the most popular and best grape variety for making quality wines in Portugal. Not only does it serve its purpose in Port production, but it is used in (dry) red wine blends that are readily accessible and satisfying. Touriga berries are small and dark and have a high skin to pulp ratio which lends itself to intense succulent wines in good vintage years. Typically, wines produced from Touriga Nacional are deeply colored, concentrated, and fruit-filled with ripe to firm tannins. Any of these additions may fit nicely into a wine lacking one or more of these qualities, thus it is a favorable option for blending. Luckily, I have a few bottles of varietal Touriga wines to sample to get a hint of what Portugal’s finest red wine grape variety can accomplish here in Virginia.
Keswick Vineyards Touriga 2006
The wine I have just uncorked as I type this blog entry is the Keswick Vineyards Touriga 2006. Unlike the 2005 (87%), this is 100% Touriga Nacional. This wine is a nice dark ruby color with a red fruit, spice, and herbal nose. It is medium bodied with soft fruit flavors and some rustic and earthy charms about it. It’s a smooth wine, an easy drinker, an everyday wine with good acidity that sips well on its own, or try pairing it with red sauce dishes (spaghetti), pizza, light cheeses, etc. Be sure to check your local wine shop for something from the Douro and Dão regions of Portugal and add this one to your alternative red wine list. And let’s not forget Virginia; while there are fewer varietal wines out there, you can find this in a number of blends along the wine trail. Happy hunting, friends!
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