Week 29 – Torrontes

Tasting Notes

Emma says: “I had my mind firmly fixed on one winemaker when I thought of finding Torrontes this week. For me there is just one Queen of Torrontes and that is Susana Balbo. A powerhouse of a lady who has made a huge impression on me during my visits to Argentina and has persuaded me I can like Torrontes; if she is making it!

She is a legend in the industry being the first formally trained female winemaker in the region, moving on to bravely set up her own successful winery Dominio del Plata and more recently has changed her pursuits to focus on politics having become the governor of Mendoza.

Torrontes is a bit of a perfume bomb of a grape and can take on a soapy flavour and oily texture that has previously put me off. But I found that Susanna’s versions are vastly different. Using grapes from the high altitudes northern Salta region the grapes are more zesty, gently perfumed and floral with a real elegance and freshness.

I sent Andy out on the search for a bottle this week and he found her barrel fermented style which is even more unusual. The barrel and the aromatics in the grape interact a bit like an oaked Sauvignon blanc. This aroma is fascinating and complex, there is a whiff of smoke from the barrel interaction and then a blackcurrant leaf herbal character that opens out to the typical rose petal perfume. To taste is is nicely lean and with a gentle texture from the oak, the flavours are of pithy citrus, plus a white pepper spice note and more rich tropical papaya underlying. It really is a complex wine that needs to be tasted to truly experience it, and if you do ever see it on a list I’d highly recommend it.

Food matching tip would be for Asian cuisine, these types of wine with that floral and tropical notes work extremely well to counter balance spice.”

Andy says: “Having been warned that this was ‘floral’, I approached the wine with trepidation. The first sniff was, to quote Emma, a ‘perfume bomb’.

I remember we had a ‘perfume bomb’ several weeks earlier, so I scrambled back through the calendar to remind myself which one it was. Gewurtztraminer! That cherry lipped abomination that I wasn’t exactly over keen on. Torrontes was off to a bad start before the first sip. And so dear reader(s), I did this for you.

It was (and this is another occasion where my lack of fruit knowledge will let me down) a ‘tropical fruit explosion’. Emma says ‘tropical papaya’, but I don’t think that’s a real fruit. All I can tell you was that it was fruity, and something I’d quite to drink while lying on a Caribbean beach. And… it didn’t have that soapy cherry lip taste that Gewurtztraminer did, which again Emma has said is possible with Torrontes. Maybe I’m getting better at this?

I did then ask her if Torrontes and Gewurtztraminer were similar, and apparently this question blew her mind, as, yes, they are frequently likened. I got a bonus point for linking them. Oh, and I liked this one.

Buying Guide

Torrontes is a white grape that is uniquely found in Argentina. The best versions come from the Northern area of Salta or Catamarca. But if you can’t find one of those then any Argentinian Torrontes will work well.

7 thoughts to “Week 29 – Torrontes”

  1. Wine -Amalaya Blanco de Corte Torrontés Riesling 2015, Valle Calchaquí, Argentina (M&S £10)
    Bottle says – lime and lifted fruit(?)

    Pale straw in colour, with a slight green tinge. The nose is strongly perfumed; peaches, watermelon and kiwi fruit , with a hint of lemon peel. The taste is not as powerful as the aroma would suggest, but still quite complex. I got clean straw and grassy notes, again, a hint of lemon peel, lychees and peach stones, and a surprisingly dry slate, bitter finish.

    I would get this wine again; maybe not too often; but still, another wine to add to the memory-bank.

    1. You’ve picked one of my favourites. And guess what, its on sale for the next two months. So grab more while you can.

      It works a treat with Chinese or Thai food too…

  2. Another week, another grape I’ve not tried before. I tasted Altaland’s Torrentes Salta 2015 (Waitrose, £10.99, 14%).

    I know I shouldn’t say this, but I was initially drawn to the art on the label which showed (in its own words) the “magical wilderness where the visionary wine is grown” (cue a dream like scene of two headed snakes, unicorns and an aardvark amongst the Argentinian mountains).

    Anyway, to the wine. It was medium gold in appearance with quite syrupy legs. The nose was very aromatic and pleasant. Dense creamy lychees, peaches, Turkish delight, honeysuckle and a citrus zest twist. There might have been some wet stone lurking in there too. I’m increasingly becoming obsessed with wet stones.

    The palate was medium plus in body, dry and oily. The crisp lemony zestyness came through over the lychees making it nice and refreshing (rather than sweet and gloopy as the nose might have suggested). The length was ok but the finish was rather bitter which I didn’t love. It was also a bit on the strong side for my taste in whites.

    Overall, I liked it for being exotic and unusual with a wonderful aromatic nose, even if the taste itself didn’t quite live up to it. Very interesting – I must try more wine Torrontes.

    1. I’ve seen that label too – very pretty! And Salta is a really magical place so perhaps the unicorns weren’t so out of place on this wine. Great to see so many people like Torrontes, I really thought this one might be more of a turn off.

  3. We discovered Torrontes on our visit to Argentina last year. On a hot day it is the perfect wine for the full Argentine experience. After returning home, it is in our regular rotation, despite the limited selection available locally. Cuma is our go-to label, at a very agreeable price-point. Salta is definitely on our list to visit on our next trip to S.America.

    1. Hi there,
      Great to have you join in on our website. Great to hear you discovered this on your travels. I do look forward to a visit to Argentina each year – it is a fantastic place isn’t it. i was lucky enough to visit Salta two years ago and it is now on my list to venture back to some day – the valley is spectacular. So I hope you get there too.

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