Wine geeks love nothing more than the experimenting winemakers who plant all sorts of off–the–wall grapes in unexpected places. Partly, it’s respect for their pioneering spirit, and partly it’s because after a day of tasting perfectly crafted Syrahs from Washington State, you’re just happy to have an imperfectly crafted Sangiovese from Washington State. But even within this group of rule breakers, there are guidelines. Never take on Portugal’s signature grape—Touriga Nacional is one. The reasons here are a few:
1. It’s hellishly hard to grow;
2. When it does grow, its yields are low;
3. Even if everything goes perfectly, no one but a handful of geeks even care about the grape—heck, but for Port (which itself isn’t the draw it used to be), the Portuguese have trouble selling the grape for a profit.
But some dreamers have to learn the hard way, or so I thought when I opened a bottle of Touriga from Osoyoos’ Moon Curser. It’s not only the only Touriga grown in Canada, it’s the first bottle of Touriga I’ve seen from anywhere in North America for ages. But there’s always some wizard who thinks he can beat the system, I thought as I leaned in for a sniff. Classic spicy leather and earth. Heavy and intoxicating and in the mouth: whoa, baby. The tannins are there, but not overpowering and paired with exotic waves of spice, pepper and deep dark primal black fruit. It tastes like an $80 of ultra–premium wine form the Douro. An amazing accomplishment from Chris and Beata Tolley.
PS – There were only 2 barrels of this wine made so sourcing it may be a trick. My advice is:
1. Look hard;
2. Get on their list for next year;
3. If not, grab a bottle of Moon Curser’s also excellent, also unique Petit Verdot ($29) or almost anything in their portfolio. This is one of the handful of wineries in the Okanagan that are doing really exciting things so get to know them right now.
Moon Curser Touriga Nacional