Quinta de Chocapalha CH Touriga Nacional 2015
Pair with slow roasted brisket or braised lamb shanks.
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Originally acquired in the 1980’s, the 110 acres of nearly abandoned vineyards discovered on the estate dated back to the 16th century; the family immediately embarked on an investment program to replant and regraft the vines with the thriving varietals of the area, both indigenous and international. In 2000, the new plantings had reached optimal maturity when Sandra Tavares, the youngest daughter made her first debut as a winemaker, passionate and eager to produce wine with only the best grapes found on the estate.
Best known for intense, impressive and age-worthy fortified wines, Portugal relies almost exclusively on its many indigenous grape varieties. Bordering Spain to its north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean on its west and south coasts, this is a land where tradition reigns supreme, due to its relative geographical and, for much of the 20th century, political isolation. A long and narrow but small country, Portugal claims considerable diversity in climate and wine styles, with milder weather in the north and significantly more rainfall near the coast.
While Port (named after its city of Oporto on the Atlantic Coast at the end of the Douro Valley), made Portugal famous, Portugal is also an excellent source of dry red and white wines of various styles.
The Duoro Valley produces full-bodied and concentrated dry red wines made from the same set of grape varieties used for Port, which include Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão, among a long list of others in minor proportions.
Other dry wines include the tart, slightly effervescent Vinho Verde white wine, made in the north, and the bright, elegant reds and whites of the Dão as well as the bold, and fruit-driven reds and whites of the southern, Alentejo.
The nation’s other important fortified wine, Madeira, is produced on the eponymous island off the North African coast.
Bold, lush, and full of intense dark fruit, Touriga Nacional has gained great popularity for its dry wines and is the noblest variety in the blend that composes Port. The grape most likely orginated from the Dão region and also grows throughout the Douro Valley, both great Portuguese wine producing regions.
In the Glass
Touriga Nacional produces a deeply hued red wine with concentrated flavors of blackberry, plum, black cherry and cocoa powder. Aromas vary from sweet violets, mint, and often vanilla and baking spice (depending on its oak aging). In texture it has fine tannins and if you’re a Cabernet drinker, this would make an excellent new wine to try.
Barbecue, Beef Tenderloin, Shepherd’s Pie, grilled sausages and any blue cheese will work well with a Touriga Nacional.
For Port wine, there are more than 80 approved grape varieties that can go into the blend. Each grape has something unique to contribute to make an overall harmonious end product. Likewise in its dry wine form, you will often find Touriga Nacional blended with some of the other best Portugese grapes like Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (synonym for Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cão.