Grape Guide: Touriga Franca
Touriga Franca is a red Portuguese grape variety that is increasinly popular with small producers in all regions of Portugal. Historically, the variety was cultivated in the Douro to add a touch of perfume to Port but today the same theory is being applied to some excellet Portuguese table wines.
Although few producers are confident enough to bottle Touriga Franca by itself, it is widely cultivated because of its ability to produce very floral wines alongside a robust, tannic structure with plenty of black fruit compote flavours. More often that not it will be found blended with Touriga Nacional.
This is one of the structural pillars of red Douro blends, and also one of the five officially recommended grapes for port. It's the most widely planted grape in the Douro, currently accounting for around a fifth of total vineyard area, and it is now much planted right across the northern half of Portugal. The Touriga Franca makes richly-coloured, dense yet elegant wines with copious blackberry fruit and floral notes (roses, rock roses, wild flowers...) and firm but velvety tannins that contribute to the ageing potential of blends - it is often blended with Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. Apart from the quality of its wines, it is popular in the vineyard for its resistance to pests and diseases and its reliably good crops of healthy grapes.