Touriga Franca (also known locally - though now not legally, as Touriga Francesa) indigenous to Portugal, is one of the major red grape varietals used to produce Port wine. Touriga Franca is related to the Touriga Nacional vine, though more fragile. The wines these two varieties produce are similar in character, but Touriga Franca is of slightly lesser concentration and colour and shows more elegance. Not much is known about the origins, but it is thought to be a cross of Mourisco de Semente and Touriga Nacional.
In 2001 the very important and indigenous Touriga Francesa was renamed Touriga Franca. On many bottles and in many a trade publication it is still referred to as Touriga Francesa and that is the reason for some confusion today with Port wine lovers.

 

Touriga Franca is quite similar to Touriga Nacional, needing harsh conditions to keep vigour down as it gets on the steep arid slopes of the Douro Valley. Yields are medium (with around 1.5kg/vine), though not as low as Touriga Nacional (¼ kg).
In Portugal - Touriga Franca is the 5th most planted grape, with approximately 7500 hectares. It plays an important part in Port wine blends - at around 20%, as it is the most widely planted grape varietal in the Douro Valley of the Port producing vines.
Touriga Franca is prized for its ability to ripen early as well as the unique mix of fruit and wildflowers that it contributes to Port wines. Increasingly Touriga Franca can be found as a single varietal wine or as part of the blends of still, dry wines that are gaining momentum in the Douro Valley and in the Dão.
Touriga Franca typically has moderate vigour and low productivity, though thrives in the hot soils of the Douro Valley's lower, relatively fertile, slopes where it is protected from winds. Though the grapes are thick-skinned, the bunches are delicate, and the fruit may not mature fully in very dry years if planted in too arid soils. Very high in tannin and extremely highly scented, it is an important component for structure and balance. It shows an intense perfume of fresh, ripe red fruits, dried spices and flowers, and its vibrant fruit character is showcased on the palate, preserving a defined quality in the wine as it ages.