Torrontes: The Wine I Was Supposed to Write

I’ve only spent three years pitching a story about this wine ever since I spent hundreds of dollars arranging for private tours of the wineries in Salta, the Argentine region where this is produced. Grrrr.

Argentina’s Torrontes delicious in scent, delicate in flavor

By FRANK SUTHERLAND • Gannett ContentOne • July 11, 2010

// <!–individual: 7 numChar :2091
–>In terms of nose and palate, it may be closest to a viognier, with floral aromas plus orange and/or peach. It is usually very dry and is delicate, but its body and acidity make it go well with food or served as a patio beverage.

It is probably not well known because the grape is not grown in numbers in other countries. Its exclusivity makes it the signature white wine of Argentina. Prices are good, too.

My wine-tasting group compared five Torrontes from Argentina. We liked better the ones that didn’t have too much of the perfume or floral notes. The results are below.

2009 Zolo Mendoza Torrontes, $13.99. The nose smelled like sweet-tart candy, with flavors of strawberries, sour raspberries and vitamin C. That palate was fresh, lively, light and well balanced. It was freshly floral but not overly so. This was our favorite, ranking first.

2008 Tilia Salta Torrontes, $10.99. Pleasantly less aromatic than the others, this wine offered scents of lemon, currants, fennel and green peppercorns. It was much mellower on the palate, with delicate rose-petal flavors. Pleasant and easy to drink, the Tilia was voted to second place. The price made it a good value.

2009 Conquista Mendoza Torrontes, $9.99. The bouquet smelled like a flower basket, full of hyacinth, potpourri and lilac, plus scents of pear, bananas, papaya and coconut oil. The wine tasted like coconut oil, grapefruit, lemon, and overwhelmingly floral flavors. It had great acidity. A panel member said it smelled like Grandma’s bathroom.

2008 Pascual Toso Mendoza Torrontes, $13.99. The aromas reminded us of matchstick (which eventually went away), ginger ale, baby aspirin, lemon oil and petrol. The palate had a wonderful lemon tartness, not so perfumy as the aroma. The palate was much better than the aroma.

2009 Casa de Campo Mendoza Torrontes, $8.99. The scents were briny, like dill-smoked sea salt, plus Hawaiian flowers, passion fruit, mild white cassis, but too much perfume. We tasted mango, perfume, coconut oil and a bit of soapy oils. My tasters said this wine had too much perfume.

Surfing the wine shelves:

2009 Cono Sur San Antonio Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $13. The aroma was delicate and subtle, but the wine was much more expressive on the palate with pineapple and other tropical fruit, grapefruit and a hint of red pepper. Easy drinking, this Chilean wine was a nice buy at this price.

2009 Undurraga Leyda Valley T. H. Sauvignon Blanc, $16.99. Scents included limes, grapefruit, melon and bell peppers. It was medium bodied with strong but not overwhelming acidity and a long finish. Fans of New Zealand sauvignon blanc should try this wine.

2007 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Chardonnay, $28. We detected scents of lemons, apples, peaches and a hint of rich oak. Full-bodied but elegant in the mouth, the wine’s palate was full of ripe fruit. Worth the money.

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