Touriga Franca – neither French nor honest

Grape Varieties

Touriga Franca – neither French nor honest


The first name for this grape variety was probably Tinta da França (“the red one from France”). Then it became tinta francesa (“French red”). From the 1940s until 2000, it was called Touriga Francesa (“French Touriga”). From 2000 onwards, it has been called Touriga Franca (“honest Touriga”). Despite all the references to France, the grape variety has no connection with the country. Furthermore, the question is why it should be more honest than other grape varieties called Touriga.

Illustrations about the Touriga Franca grape. First three pictures depict strawberry, blackberry and roses. Then bar charts showing structure between 0 and 9 - acidity 5 out of 9, tannins 5 out of 9, alcohol 6 out of 9 and aroma intensity 7 out of 9. And finally a map showing the main growing area - the Douro.
Strawberry, blackberry and roses are the aromas illustrated. The bar chart shows structure between 0 and 9 – acidity 5 out of 9, tannins 5 out of 9, alcohol 6 out of 9 and aroma intensity 7 out of 9. And finally, a map showing the main growing area – the Douro.
  • Types of wine: red, rosé, sparkling and fortified.
  • Wine structure: medium acidity, medium tannins and medium to high alcohol.
  • Wine aromas: intense of cherry, wild strawberry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, mulberry, rose, cistus, violet and herbs.
  • Synonyms: Albino de Souza, Esgana Cão, Rifete, Touriga, Touriga Frances, Touriga Trancesa and Tourigo Francês.

Origin in the Douro

Touriga Franca originated in the Douro region through a natural cross between Touriga Nacional from the Douro region and Marufo from the Iberian Peninsula. This means that it is the sibling of Tinta Barroca and Tinta da Barca from the Douro region. The lack of greater genetic diversity and old written references suggest that it is a relatively young grape variety, probably dating from the mid-19th century.

Grown in the Douro

The Douro region is the main growing area. However, relatively large plantations also exist in the rest of the Portuguese interior (Trás-os-Montes, Beira Interior and Alentejo). The total area under cultivation in Portugal is very large, but the trend is downward.

Relatively easy to grow in warm locations

Touriga Franca is a hardy grape variety that likes heat. It is highly resistant to diseases and has a regular and high yield. However, too-high yields or cool growing conditions result in low sugar levels. The dense bunches are easily attacked by powdery mildew, and the vine weevils can also attack the flowers and grapes.

Recommended Touriga Franca wines

From the Douro region:

From the Alentejo region: