We tasted: MOB – Dao Touriga, Jaen, Alfochiero, Baja 2013 Berry Bros & Rudd £28.95
Emma says: “This week has certainly been a mission. In fact I’ll be surprised if anyone joins in. After suggesting that people find a Douro red which has predominantly Touriga Nacional in the blend our search of London showed this was nigh on impossible.
Most Douro reds have “Tinta Roriz” (aka Tempranillo) as the first grape listed on the label and by law the list of grapes in a blend has to list them in order of highest percentage. We did some pretty heavy Google searching and found this was the case almost everywhere. We were about to give up when I recalled a great wine friend, Abi, had bought me a lovely bottle for my birthday from another classic region in Portugal, “Dao”. Hey presto it is predominantly Touriga. So a stroke of luck and a big thank you to Abi.
On tasting I think this wine actually shows more about the region and the particular style it brings rather than Touriga. I imagine other tasters with a Douro wine will get a different experience. This is a really serious wine. The scent is very dark brooding with a slate-y mineral intensity, and some medicinal and herbal notes. On tasting it is taught with grippy but nicely fine tannin. The flavours continue to deliver a smoky pencil lead intensity that I normally find in good Bordeaux. There is also lovely dense, bright purple fruit which points to the warmer climate of Southern Europe. But this isn’t a bouncy, fruity, luscious sort of wine it is more on the serious side with mouth filling intensity and a complex array of flavours that appeal to those people that want a wine that lingers and brings more and more flavours as you ponder on it.
On reading about the wine it is made by three winemakers Jorge Moreira, Francisco Olazabal and Jorge Borges who are normally based in the Douro and with this joint project want to represent the true spirit of Dao with grapes grown beside Portuguese highest mountain range giving this wine that extra dose of acidity and that mineral intensity from the poor granitic soil influence, where vines bury deeply and produce wines with extra intensity. Besides Touriga this wine has other local interesting grapes in the blend, I have always particularly like Baga which is akin to Nebbiolo in its bold tannic delivery and Jaen is related to Mencia and Cabernet Franc; for those wanting geek facts.
I’m really glad I tried it. Like many Portuguese wines I find they have a distinct and unique character and feel quite sad that we don’t see them more often in our UK stores. I think it may be that with their totally different array of grape names that are hard to pronounce so they don’t make an easy sell. What a shame, we need to get more spirit of adventure back into wine. Which is precisely what 52 grapes is about and is exactly what Portuguese wines need.”
Andy says: “I’ve spent most of this week worrying about two things.
Thing one – the complete lack of availability of Touriga dominant wines in major supermarkets. We appear to have sent you on a bum steer, so if you’re reading this and still looking, just get any Douro red. It will have Touriga in it. Probably.
Thing two – A pun for this week’s newsletter title. “Touriga Nacional” isn’t exactly the most pun-able grape name in the world. Aruba, Touriga, ooh I wanna take ya… you now have the Beach Boys / Kokomo in your head. Thank me later.
We decided to have this wine with dinner. I needed something to do beforehand so had a glass of a new Malbec. It was a sample Emma had brought home, and was already open. Rude not to, right? It was full of lovely fruity flavour, but this isn’t Malbec week. You know when you haven’t got enough Ribena left to make a glass of juice, but you give it a go anyway and end up with a weak, pale pink, overly diluted homeopathic tribute act? That’s what it felt like when I then tried this week’s red. This Dao Touriga was like drinking water in comparison to the Malbec.
But this was very much a short term opinion. I left the wine for a little time to open up and also to allow my palate to reset. The second tasting was much improved – I definitely got fruit (I couldn’t name which one though. Grape?) and a bit of smoke. Tannin wise I thought they were soft, as there was a quick light grip on the tongue that quickly disappeared, as that’s what I thought soft tannins were. Having Googled a list of wine terms, I have decided ’round’ (“A wine that has a good sense of body that is not overly tannic.”) is the best fit.
In summary, very drinkable but still haven’t found my red of choice.”
UPDATE: It seems there aren’t that many Touriga led reds out there – so if you’re struggling, any Douro red will do!
Touriga is the most famous red grape of Portugal. It tends to be used in reds from the Douro region, which also makes port wines. The easiest way to find a wine made with this grape is to look for a red from Portugal made in the Douro valley. Or to look for the Portuguese red section in a retailer and check the back label for the grapes used in the blend. It is unusual to find a 100% Touriga so it’s very likely you’ll have to scour the labels and find a blend. Watirose, M&S and Aldi stock Douro reds. If all else fails a bottle of port would make an interesting option to try this week.