jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Some thoughts on terroir: different expressions of Touriga Nacional

Regular readers will know that I'm really interested by the way that different soils influence the flavour of wine. It's usually referred to as 'terroir', but there's more to terroir than just soils. Climate also plays a big role.

Portugal has a great demonstration of terroir in action. Consider the different expressions of Touriga Nacional in the Dao and the Douro regions. Yes, the climates are a little different (Douro is warmer and drier), but one of the chief differences is the soils.

Pictured above is a typical Dao soil type: sandy granite. Below we have the signature soil of the Douro: schist. Both are good vineyard soils in that they limit vigour and are free draining, but Touriga is quite different when grown on each.

This is perhaps a big generalization, but Dao Touriga is brighter, fresher and more aromatic, with distinctive floral/violet aromas, and red berry and black cherry fruits. Douro Touriga is typically richer and denser, with more palate weight and some meaty blackberry fruit. It can be floral, but it's usually richer and meatier.

Both are fantastic. I think Douro Touriga is usually best as part of a blend, though. Dao Touriga is also usually blended, but I think it can stand up on its own as a single variety. Still, generally speaking, Touriga is a fantastic blend component, and that's the way it is most effectively used.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Essence of Touriga Nacional

Portugal's most famous grape variety is Touriga Nacional. I really like it, but it is an angular grape that sometimes performs best as part of a blend. The two most successful regions for this variety are the Douro (on schist soils) and the Dao (on granite-based soils). Here's a brilliant - but angular - Dao version of Touriga Nacional, which captures the lovely floral signature of this variety.

Falorca T-nac 2005 Dao, Portugal
This is a really good example of Dao Touriga Nacional from Quinta Vale das Escadinhas. It's just so typical of really good Touriga, even though it's a slightly edgy wine that won't be to everyone's taste. Lovely meaty, spicy, olivey, sweetly fruited nose with enticing floral notes that are so typical of this variety. The palate is concentrated with firm tannins and robust, spicy, meaty fruit backed up by good structure. Dense, firm and wild with lovely depth of flavour. 92/100 (12.99 Castas.co.uk, also available from Armit)

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

A beautiful evening with a Portuguese red

Almost a year ago I visited the Dao and Bairrada regions of Portugal; on that trip, Ana Sofia of Viniportugal encouraged me also to visit the Beria Interior, the region that is sandwiched between the Douro and the Alentejo in the east of Portugal. I'm glad she did, because this is a rather poorly known region that's making some great wines. Tonight's wine comes from here.

It's one of those perfect English summer evenings, with temperatures comfortably in the 20s and some gentle sunshine. We don't get all that many of these, so you have to savour them when they come along. So I'm sitting outside, glass in hand, blogging. This is one of my favourite times of year. I wish I could bottle evenings like this up and save them for later.

This afternoon we were round at some friends for lunch. It was a jolly crowd, but unfortunately we had a dog war. RTL, who is in season, took issue with Bramble, our friend's dog, and they started going for each other. We separated them, but it was quite scary, and quite out of character, because these are placid dogs who normally get on very well.

So, my note on tonight's wine:

Gravato Touriga Nacional 2006 Beira Interior, Portugal
From Quinta dos Barreiros, 14.5% alcohol. This deliciously rich Touriga is a sort of half-way house between the aromatic, cherryish Dao style and the lush, ripe Alentejo style. It shows lovely vibrant plum and dark cherry character as well as richer, spicy, slightly tarry blackberry fruit. There's some attractive oak influence, but it integrates nicely into the ripe, dense fruit. Fruit driven, this finishes with some grippy, spicy tannic structure, with a streak if minerality. Good definition. A really well made wine with great appeal. What I particularly like about it is the way that it really tastes of Touriga Nacional. 91/100 (see http://www.gravatoqb.pt/ for more details).

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