Altano Douro Quinta do Ataide Reserva, Portugal 2011 (from £12.99, Cambridge Wine; Halifax Wine Company) Touriga nacional is to the Douro what cabernet sauvignon is to Bordeaux, providing the deep, dark flavours of the area’s best red wines. Like Bordeaux, the Portuguese region specialises in blends featuring a handful of other varieties, whether fortified with spirit to become port or left as table wines. Made by the Symington family (owners of the great Graham’s, Dow’s and Warre’s port houses), the Ataide Reserva is all touriga, however, and shows the variety can do complexity all on its own. It has an aromatic prettiness (violets, lavender) before those deep, dark flavours (fruits of the forest and chocolate) take over. Drink with rich, beefy stews on long, dark nights.
Alvaro Castro Tinto, Dão, Portugal 2011 (from £13.75, Prohibition Wines; Noel Young Wines) Just as the cabernet-based Bordeaux blend can be found in nearby Bergerac, so touriga nacional also finds a home in the Dão region to the south of the Douro. Like Bergerac, Dão has often been overshadowed by its pricier neighbour, but its touriga-based blends are every bit as good. They tend to have more of a twang of cherry-like acidity and freshness, with the fruit a shade redder, and with a streak of herb to go with touriga’s trademark floral character. Look for Ribeiro Santo Dão 2012 (£7.25, Wine Society), Extra Special Dão 2013 (£5, Asda), or the suave mix of touriga, tinta roriz, alfrocheiro and jaen from the region’s top winemaker, Alvaro Castro.
Altavia Thend, Liguria, Italy 2005 (£19.99, Red Squirrel Wine) While it doesn’t have the same number of stamps in its passport as the globetrotting cabernet, touriga nacional has reached an increasingly exotic list of locations, including Australia. It’s one of a handful of Iberian grapes in the incense- and spice-inflected blend of Mazza Wines Cinque, Geographe, Western Australia 2009 (£22.50, Berry Bros), while it makes for a vivid, floral example all by itself in Vinteloper’s TN/12 from South Australia’s Langhorne Creek (£19.99, Red Squirrel). It has even made it to Italy’s Liguria, although in tiny quantities: Altavia makes just 2,000 bottles of the country’s only, wonderfully pure and fragrant, example.
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