Touriga Franca – Touriga Nacional is a classic blend of Portuguese red-wine grapes used mostly in the Dao and Douro regions to make both dry table wines and fortified wines. Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional are two of the five key varieties used to make Port, Portugal's most famous wine; the others are the three Tintos (Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cao).
The relationship between the Tourigas bears marked similarities to that which exists between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. To begin with, both pairings are used to make the most celebrated wine style of their respective nations: the Tourigas make Port, the Cabernets make the most famous reds of Bordeaux. Both pairings also consist of one more-popular variety, which provides backbone and richness (Nacional/Sauvignon), and a less-favored variety, which contributes a lighter, more perfumed element (Franca/Franc). Beyond that, the proposed parent-offspring relationship between the Tourigas (Franca may be the child of Nacional) reflects that of the Cabernets (Sauvignon is the child of Franc).
Touriga Nacional vines produce a small, high-quality crop of tannic, deeply colored berries; the wines they make are rich, intense and cellar-worthy. The trade-off for this is that the variety is very sensitive to poor weather during flowering, which can lead to unreliable fruit set and therefore unreliable yield. Touriga Franca, by contrast, has very consistent yields, and ripens reliably when planted in warm sites such as those found on the south-facing slopes of the Douro Valley. It is precisely this quality that has made Touriga Franca the most widely planted grape variety throughout the Douro region. But there is more to Touriga Franca than just a reliable crop; the heady, vibrant, mulberry-like aromas it brings to wines should not be overlooked.
The two Tourigas make a natural, harmonious pairing. They complement each other's strengths both in the vineyard and in the winery, so it makes perfect sense that the combination is being adopted in Portugal's other key wine regions, notably Estremadura – Lisboa, Ribatejo and Alentejo.
Food matches for Touriga Franca – Touriga Nacional wines include:
- Roasted wild boar with red-wine jus (dry)
- Chicken mole (dry)
- Aged cheeses like vintage Cheddar, Stilton & Double Gloucester (fortified)