Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Touriga - More Than Just Port

Sometimes as a writer, I get caught up in drafting a wish list of subjects I am determined to research and write about. Like a lot of good intentions in life, we don't always get to the things on our "to-do" lists in a timely manor. In this case, I am acknowledge my newest obsession and had to stop all other projects to share it with you. Touriga Nacional is a grape varietal primarily grown in Portugal in low yielding crops producing a highly desirable flavour profile. Traditionally used in Port production, I have recently come across this grape being produced as a single variety in a dry wine. I was instantly hooked.

Imagine sitting atop haystacks in an aged brick coloured barn on a steep hillside on a summer's afternoon in Portugal overlooking rolling hills while lunching on hand crafted sandwiches getting ready to saddle the horses up for a trail ride through the vineyards and blackberry bushes. This is Touriga Nacional. A rustic, peaceful yet complex experience. Don't be fooled though, a slight astringency will follow the earthiness that may sneak up on you if you are not prepared.

With wishful illustrations aside, I have tasted a couple of producers lately and have been very impressed not only by the well-rounded product but the price retailing right around $15. Drinking a wine that creates an experience is powerful and in my book, the sign of a great wine. Being the most desirable grape for port production, the high skin to pulp ratio produces not only a rustic countryside aroma but is rich in raisinated fruits such as plums, blackberries and dark cherries.

With very small amounts of Touriga planted in the United States, it is not readily available. However, one producer based in Napa near my beloved Spring Mountain has vines planted in Sonoma County. York Creek Vineyards is growing Touriga for a port project they also produce this variety in a dry red wine style and a rose. They had my attention at first sip. Having selected their mountainous site to produce rich, bold and tannic wines I can only imagine my summer afternoon horse riding fantasy coming true.

With that being said, there are plenty of producers from Portugal being imported to the United States. One in particular I tasted at a local restaurant was a 2007 T. Roriz "Tradicional" Tega, Alqueve, priced at a very reasonable $8/glass.

If you happen to come across Touriga during your next dining experience, I highly recommend you give it a taste. You may not experience a rustic countryside fantasy in Portgual but it will give you something to talk about nontheless.

Santé!
Charlotte :)


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