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Quinta do Passadouro Touriga Nacional 2014
Made from 100% Touriga Nacional grapes sourced from 30 year old schist vineyards. After a rigorous selection, the grapes ferment in a granite Lagar with foot trodden and temperature control. The wine was aged for 17 months in 30% new and 70% one year old French oak barrels.
This sprawling property in the heart of the Douro’s Cima Corgo consists of two different vineyards: Quinta do Passadouro and Quinta do Sibio. Both vineyards boast a range of indigenous varieties native to the Douro, including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Sousão and Tinta Barroca.
Due to the steep grade of the slopes where the vineyards are planted and the narrow width of the terraces, all grapes must be picked by hand. Traditional foot-treading in granite lagares is often employed, which yields fine, silky tannins since the process is so gentle on the grapes. The wines are all aged in French barriques.
The home of Port—perhaps the world’s most popular after-dinner drink, the Douro region of Portugal is one of the world’s oldest delimited wine regions, established in 1756. Less well-known but often of excellent quality are the region’s dry table wines, both red and white. The vineyards of the Douro, set on the slopes surrounding the Douro river (known as the Duero in Spain), are among the steepest in the world, necessitating the use of terraces in much of the region. This often requires grapes to be harvested by hand—a labor-intensive process. The climate here is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and cold winters. There are three sub-regions of the Douro—Baixo Corgo, the mildest and wettest, Cima Corgo, where many of the best producers are situated, and Douro Superior, the hottest and driest. The best sites, typically with schist-based soils, are reserved for Port production, while table wines are usually grown on granite.
While more than 100 indigenous varieties are approved for wine production in the Douro, there are five primary grapes that make up most Port and table wines. Touriga Nacional is the finest of these, prized for its deep color, tannic and concentrated structure, and floral aromatics. Along with Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Spain's Tempranillo) helps to provide the backbone to these wine and adds bright acidity and red fruit flavors. Touriga Franca and Tinta Barroca help round out the blend with their soft, supple textures. Tinta Cão, a fine but low-yielding variety, is rarely planted but still highly valued for its ability to produce excellent, complex wines. Rosé Port and table wines are produced from the same varieties, while whites are generally crisp, mineral-driven blends of Arinto, Viosinho, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina, and an assortment of others.
Bold, lush, and full of intense dark fruit, Touriga Nacional has gained great popularity for its dry wines but actually is the noblest variety in the blend that composes Port wine. 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 purple-dominated 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 52 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.