Touriga Nacional provides structure and body to wine Philippines wine supplier Manila wine shop discusses wine by the grape variety Touriga Nacional.

December 18, 2010

Touriga Nacional
Infobox grape variety
name = Touriga Nacional

caption = Touriga leaf
species = “Vitis vinifera”
also_called = Mortágua, Touriga (more)
origin = Portugal
hazards =
regions = Douro, Dão
notable_wines = Port
Touriga Nacional is a variety of red wine grape, considered by many to be Portugal’s finest. Despite the notoriously low yields from its small grapes, it plays a big part in the blends used for the best ports, and is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dão.
Touriga Nacional provides structure and body to wine, with high tannins and concentrated flavours of black fruit. Jancis Robinson has compared its relationship with Touriga Francesa to the partnership between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the former providing structure, the latter filling out the bouquet. J. Robinson “Vines, Grapes & Wines” pg 216 Mitchell Beazley 1986 ISBN 1857329996 ]
Not much is known about the origins of Portuguese grapes, but they were probably brought by the Phoenicians. Touriga Nacional is probably related to Touriga Francesa, and RAPD analysis has suggested links to Moscatel Galego and the Tinta Negra Mole of Madeira.
From its home in Northern Portugal, Touriga Nacional has since been planted in the New World by producers of New World ‘ports’ seeking to produce a wine more like the original.
Touriga Fina, Touriga Foiufeira, and Touriga Macho refer to particular clones.
Wine regions
There have been experiments with the port grapes in Australia.
In the late 1990s there were 2,760 hectares of Touriga Nacional in Portugal. Its poor yields mean that it represents a tiny part of the wine production in the Douro, but it plays a major part in the blends of the best ports.
The variety is increasingly being used for unfortified red wine in the Douro and in the Dão. In the latter, it is known simply as Touriga, and it must comprise at least 20% of Dão blends.Fact|date=May 2007
Traditionally a lot of US wine was fortified, and many of the producers of such ‘port’ have experimented with using Portuguese grapes as a way to improve their product. 553 tons of Touriga were crushed in 2006, up 26% on the previous year. [cite web | last = Goldfarb | first = Alan | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = A visit to Prager Port Works: Has the ship finally come in for California Port-style wines? | work = | publisher = Appellation America | date = 2007-03-23 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-04-30 Great article on the new Californian ‘ports’]
The vine is very vigorous, and good results depend on keeping it in check. In the Douro it is grown in searing heat in steep schisty vineyards that are more rock than soil. The alternative name of Mortágua pays tribute to these harsh conditions. It is usually trained under one of the Guyot systems, and needs severe pruning to keep it under control. In contrast, the vine produces just a few bunches of blue-black grapes which vary in size from ‘small’ to ‘tiny’. Thus yields are among the lowest of any commercial grape variety.
In recent years, scientists have been working on cloning the Touriga Nacional to produce vines that are able to pollinate better with the goal of increasing yields by 15% and sugar content by 10%. The most successful clone produced so far has been the R110 clone. T. Stevenson “The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia” pg 335 Dorling Kindersley 2005 ISBN 0756613248 ]
The tiny berries of Touriga Nacional have a high skin to pulp ratio which heightens the amount of extract in the wines. The grapes can produce intense, very aromatic wines with high tannin content.


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