Torrontes- The White Wine of Argentina


I have recently fallen in love with Torrontes wine, and I will unabashedly and eagerly introduce you to this amazing varietal.

One sip for me was all it took to be lurched out of my standard white phase of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio and into the lush and richly flavored Torrontes, a grape with a torrid personality, and a blazing, ‘in your face’ attitude that is not for the the weak or unadventurous.

The orgin of the Torrontes grape is said to come from the Galician region of Spain, commonly used in wines from the sub-region Ribeiro (not to be confused with the more well known Ribera del Duero sub-region of Spain) but you don’t tend to hear too much about Spanish Torrontes because the same grape thrives in the dry climates and mountains of Argentina, producing a wholly characteristic white wine unlike anything you may have ever had.

It is one of the most widely planted grapes in Argentina but gets little of the attention that the more ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay might garner.

Torrontes is a distinctive white, generally found with a bold and overpowering scent that might twist your nose into a whirl with a heavy, sweet aroma of roses and lychees (similar to what scents a Gewurtztraminer may have) and underlying tones of tropical, exotic fruits, although some lighter varietals can evoke scents of lemon and apples. Its color can range from a light yellow-green to the burnished golden hue of a late autumn hay field. Any and all varietal differences come from wine produced in the two primary growing regions in Argentina- The Mendoza, the biggest and most important region, located in Central Argentina far west of the Andes Mountains; and the Valle de Cafayate, farther North than the Mendoza.

Mendoza Torrontes wines will be lighter in color, pale yellow with green hues and have a fresher, more floral and citrusy scent to them, undertones of minerals and a refreshing finish with pleasant acidity and good balance. Cafayate Torrontes turns to the burnished side, deeper yellow with rich gold tones, and the unmistakeable scent of overripe peaches, but also perfumes of roses, ripe pears and spice with a heavier texture in the mouth, almost unctuous; it finishes hot and tends to dance in the mouth but with balanced acidity. The overall perception of a classic Torrontes is considered to be the Cafayate style.

Food pairings: Torrontes can be a tough match with food, but higher acidity can offset a creamy, buttery dish, and the perception of fruity sweetness may override spicy foods. Torrontes is thoroughly enjoyable alone as an aperitif. Keep well chilled.

Some good examples of Torrontes to try:

From the Valle de Cafayate:
Michel Torino ‘Don David’ Reserve 2005
exotic fruit aroma of pear, pineapple and lime with a nice finish and a touch of spritz. warm and full in the mouth
Crios de Susana Balbo 2005 Torrontes
spicy and strong, warm and complex with rose and honey scents, mild and dry acidity and a long finish.

From the Mendoza:
Santa Julia Torrontes 2003
fragrant and floral-like aromas of rose and pomegranate. some mineral tones and a light acidity
Fundacion de Mendoza Torrontes 2005
medium bodied with apple, citrus and nut aromas, bright acidity and very food friendly.

(image courtesy of http://www.torrontes.com)

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Reader Comments

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Now you have me wanting to go and buy a bottle … thanks for the recommendations!

Great writing too.