Spotlight on Portuguese Dry Wine: Quinta de Pancas Touriga Nacional Reserva 2008
Much of the Portuguese wine we see in North American markets tend toward big, rich fruity red wines aged in considerable oak. The heaviness of oak often brings the already intense touriga nacional grape into viscous territory, which is never enjoyable to those who appreciate finesse and elegance. Of course, Protugal is far more than that, and this wine is a perfect example.
Grown in the Estremedura and not the Douro, you might expect the more southerly region to produce more alcoholic and fruitier wines than the north. This is, however, not the case as the region has a coastal climate, which moderates the temperatures, especially at night. Quinta de Pancas is one of the new breed of wineries from the Estremedura, which is actually a group of four regions which collectively produce the greatest quantity of wine in Portugal and traditionally were dominated by poor quality co-operatives. Pancas has been producing wine for centuries, but the quality has improved dramatically in the last 2 decades.
Refined Touriga Nacional
I like this wine. What upon initial opening is rich dark blue fruits, pretty heavy oaking and coffee becomes plum skins, blackberry and herbacious greenness with air. An enticing wine, which becomes even more so on the palate.
A perfect example of why most young wines need decanting, what was initially very oaky, tart, and mostly uninteresting blue fruit became one of the most interesting wines I’ve had from Portugal with a good hour in the open bottle. I’d call this a Portuguese wine for Loire and Burgundy people who can appreciate a wine with greater density. There is dirt, minerals, chalk and good acid here that make this 13.5% ABV wine quite refreshing and elegant.
There is also serious varietal character in this wine. If you are afraid of density and tannin then you shouldn’t be drinking Touriga Nacional. But it is not fair to write off this wine because of the inherent weight of the grape. In fact, I think this wine is more varietally true than many of the Touriga Nacional’s I’ve tasted in our market. And that makes it well worth seeking out.
VG+ to E (I think this will become superb with age)
~$40 at Everything Wine