Wine Review - 2008 Casa Santos Lima Touriga Franca: Juicy And Spicy Portuguese Vinho

Casa Santos Lima Touriga Franca
This is a wine grape that there is not a lot of origin information about.  It would seem from the name that this might have some level of connection to Cabernet Franc.  This seems to hold up in spirit as Jancis Robinson has mentioned it as "Cabernet Franc to Touriga Nacional's Cabernet Sauvignon".  That certainly is good enough comparison for us.  This grape is also known as Touriga Francesa which is not what is on the label so there you go.  Casa Santos Lima is a located 45 miles North of Lisbon and they grow (if the translation is correct) a whopping 50 different varieties in their vineyards (some of which are experimental).

We were pulled in by the idea of it being a Portuguese version of Cab Franc but we also haven't seen a lot of single variety wines from Portugal.  Douro and Dao are red blends so this makes it doubly interesting.

This is considered a medium bodied wine, but once you take a look at in the glass it seems like a bit fuller bodied than the variety would indicate.  It is a very dark wine which shows as a black current or blackberry colour.  Very dark purple but definitely different from say, Malbec.  There is almost a black tone in the colour profile.  Very purple around the edge but certainly a very dark wine all around.

The nose is sour cherries or cranberries but with a very floral base.  It is super interesting.  The floral component is a combination of say violets and mulling spices like cinnamon, citrus peel, nutmeg, and cloves.  That is a lot going on in the glass.  We really like the way it smells there may be even a hint of that barnyard smell we love, but just a hint or it might lean on the wet cedar end of things.  It is a tough call.

The taste on this is certainly reminiscent of Cab Franc with a little spice and good amount of fruit and it does still walk the line between medium and full bodied.  We hardly ever use this term but this wine feels a little 'flabby'.  By flabby we mean that it starts very mild almost neutral with little or no acidity.  It does finish with a bit of zip in the mid-palate and beyond but that is not enough.  It finishes with some tart fruit and it has an extended ending.  We like the taste but if it had a bit more punch all the way through it would be great.  The sour cherry dominates again in the taste, with a little bit of cocoa and some vanilla/toasted oak.  Overall, pretty good but if it had a tweak here and there it would be awesome.

   Tasting Notes: Score:
Sight (0-5) Very dark black current shade, purple and black.  Thicker than you might expect from a medium bodied wine. 4.0
Smell (0-5) Sour cherries and floral notes dominate which includes violets and mulling spices with some wood in there as well. 4.5
Taste (0-10) Flabby wine with a surprisingly tart finish that extends for a while.  Sour cherries are there again with a bit of cocoa and oak. 7.75
  Total: 16.25 / 20

This is an intriguing wine but there are some flaws that knock it down a peg or two.  If those weren't there it would be fantastic, but alas there they are.  At $20 locally (though currently on sale for $16) it pushes the budget a bit.  It was definitely interesting to try a Portuguese single variety but there is something to be said for the blending done in Douro and Dao.

Keep on tasting!

Chris & Shannon


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