It was close to extinction, but nowadays its quality is undeniable and increasingly recognised all over the world.
Among the more than 250 Portuguese grape varieties, Touriga Nacional is the most famous among connoisseurs and connoisseurs of wines produced in Portugal.
Elegant, versatile and with a marked personality, this grape variety leaves no one indifferent.
Find out some of the characteristics of Touriga Nacional and understand why it is one of the most emblematic grape varieties of our country.
A protagonism sponsored by Port Wine
The first references to the cultivation of Touriga Nacional date back to 1790.
Although its origin is undefined - with Douro and Dão disputing its birthplace -, it is certain that, in the 19th century, the production of this caste was already dominant in these two regions of the country.
This scenario changed radically with the devastation caused by phylloxera at the end of that century. Besides destroying a large part of the vineyards all over Europe, this plague also caused a change in many of the planting techniques used until then by viticulturists.
In Portugal, these changes resulted in a significant reduction in the production of Touriga Nacional. Due to its low productivity, this caste was neglected by winegrowers, who were mainly focused on the production of quantity wine. Losing ground to other, higher-yielding species, Touriga Nacional went from being the hegemonic variety to a residual variety in less than a century.
It was on the back of internationally recognised port that this caste regained its importance. In 1981, it was identified in a study carried out in the Douro as one of the five best grape varieties for producing port wine, which resulted in funding for its replanting in the region.
At the same time, with Portugal's entry into the European Economic Community, the market stopped giving priority to large-scale production and began to value the demand for superior quality wines. Besides Port wine, Touriga Nacional also began to shine in the production of still wines from the Douro, made from blends or single varietals. Since then, its plantation has regained its former vigour and has become the flagship variety of this region and of the country itself.
Today, Touriga Nacional is present in the main Portuguese winegrowing regions, from north to south, as well as in foreign regions (in the famous Bordeaux region, for example, its planting has been permitted since 2020).
5 characteristics that make Touriga Nacional a unique caste
1. Intense aromas
The great aromatic complexity is one of the trademarks of Touriga Nacional.
The wines produced from this variety present intense aromas that mix floral notes (with a predominance of violet) and fruity notes (of dark red fruit, such as cherry, plum or blackberry), as well as a touch of spice.
2. Strong tannins
The tannins of this grape are robust and firm, which gives the wines a solid structure and a high ageing potential.
3. High acidity
The high acidity characteristic of this caste makes it a good option for obtaining wines of great freshness and expressiveness.
4. Deep colour
The bluish-black berries of this grape give rise to wines with an intense, dark colour.
Touriga Nacional is a very versatile grape variety that grows in different types of soil and climate, showing, however, a preference for regions of abundant sunlight and heat. This capacity for natural adaptation means that today it is planted not only in various Portuguese regions but also in countries such as Spain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and the United States.
This profile of Touriga Nacional makes it a caste that is highly valued by oenologists all over the world, who seek to work these unique characteristics to obtain high quality wines.
Its international fame is now so evident that it has allowed this grape of Portuguese origin to gain other extra-official designations. In different parts of the world it is also known as Azal, Bical Tinto, Touriga Fina or Tourigão.
The use of Touriga Nacional generally results in full-bodied and balanced wines with good alcohol content and a long and persistent finish. They have a good ageing capacity, especially if aged in wood where they tend to gain even greater aromatic complexity.
Although it is mostly known for its presence in red wines and Port wines, Touriga Nacional is also known for its versatile and creative personality, showing itself capable of producing all kinds of wines, including high quality sparkling and rosé wines.
What goes well with Touriga Nacional grape
- Robust, more fatty and spicy dishes
- Red meat or game meat
- Intense cheeses such as Roquefort or Gorgonzola
- Walnut-based desserts
Do you feel like trying and discovering the full potential of this queen of Portuguese grape varieties?
In our UVA Wine Shop
you will find a wide selection of wines produced from Touriga Nacional. From Port wines, to full-bodied red wines or even lighter and more elegant wines, we have a proposal designed for all palates.
Below is a list of wines with the Touriga Nacional grape ⬇