Touriga Nacional is a red wine grape that’s considered the “Portugal’s finest” by many. Although it’s known for its low yields and small size, it’s an irreplaceable part of blends used for ports. This little grape adds a considerable amount of structure and body to the wine, thanks to high tannins and intense black fruit flavors.
In the 1990s, there were just under three thousand hectares of Touriga Nacional in Portugal. Due to the grape’s poor yields, it represented only a tiny fraction of wine production, even in its home country.
However, it’s essential in the blends of the finest ports. In the US, a lot of wine is fortified, and many winemakers of “port” use Touriga Nacional to improve the flavor and quality of the product.
In the Douro, the grapes grow in searing heat in steep vineyards that are often more rock than soil. The conditions are rather harsh, so the grapevine is “trained” by severely pruning to keep it under control. The vine only produces a handful of bunches of dark blue grapes that are tiny.
In fact, Touriga Nacional’s yields are one of the smallest among the commercial grape varieties. Lately, scientists have tried developing a clone of Touriga Nacional to increase yields and sugar content, but the process is taking time.
If you’d like to try it, buy a bottle of Touriga Nacional in our store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, or online!