June 2011 -Torrontes

What is Torrontés?
It’s a grape, and a white wine.
The grape is grown nowhere else in the world but Argentina.
The Argentine grape has been shown genetically to be a hybrid of the muscat of Alexandria and the criolla, or mission grapes.
The best torrontés are highly aromatic, with floral and citrus scents.
Can Torrontés become malbec’s white counterpart?
Yes, in 2010, Argentina exported more than 231,000 cases of torrontés to the United States, according to Wines of Argentina, a trade group. That figure may seem minuscule next to the 3.15 million cases of Argentine malbec the United States received that year. But compared with the mere 29,333 cases of torrontés exported to the United States in 2004, the growth has been remarkable.
Torrontés may have issues of identity: Some could be dry, light-bodied and crisp, like pinot grigios. Others could be broad, heavy and rich, like ultra-ripe California chardonnays.
Torrontés has no clear identity, not yet at least, and the unpredictable nature of what’s in the bottles could be a problem.
Torrontés level of quality depends on one crucial component: acidity. Whether light or heavy, if these wines have enough acidity they are very lively and vivacious, if not they can be very flaccid and unpleasant.
Torrontés has three sub-varieties:
Torrontés Riojano, the best and most aromatic, from La Rioja and Salta.
Torrontés Sanjuanino, less aromatic, from the San Juan province south of La Rioja.
Torrontés Mendocino, much-less aromatic, from the Mendoza area, which may not be related to the other two at all.
Food pairing:
Torrontés matches perfectly with seafood, spicy food and ethnic food (Asian & Mexican).
Making Torrontés at home:
RJ Spagnols RQ Torrontés.
Wine kit that contains Torrontés from Cachaquies Valley, Argentina.
Cost: $135.00

Torrontés Wine recommendations:
Michel Torino Cuma, $15
Cafayate Valley Torrontés 2009
Fresh and lively with depth, presence and flavors of orange and cantaloupe.
Catena Alamos, $14
Salta Torrontés 2009
Fragrant and refreshing with aromas of flowers and citrus.