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What I’m Drinking Now: Torrontes


bodega-el-porvenirOne of my favorite wine finds occured a few years ago when I discovered the Torrontes grape.  It’s like a little surprise in your mouth, with exceptional refreshment on Texas summer days.  As 90 degree days seem destined to last a bit longer, give a Torrontes a try.  It will quench your thirst with a nice kick. 

Torrontes is one of Argentina’s favorite whites, and one of their most distinct.  It is only made in Argentina, mostly in  Cafayete, high in the Andres Mountains. 

I love to serve Torrontes as tasting parties simply for this surprise factor I referenced.  What is the surprise?  The aromas indicate one flavor profile, but the taste is a complete opposite.  When you smell a glass of Torrontes immediate floral aromas stand out, along with orange blossom and peaches, indicating this may lean to the sweeter side of wine; the flavor profile, however, is more like a well structured Sauvignon Blanc, with well balanced acid and citrus, and a taste that is quite dry.  Most go from stainless steel fermentation to the bottle, so heavy flavors that can come from oak are not present.  Only a crisp, well rounded wine that are best appreciated young.  As Argentine wine becomes more and more popular Torrontes is getting easier to find.  Here are a couple of my favorites to be on the look out for:

Laborum, from Bodega Le Pourvenir de Los Andes  is one of my favorite wines from one my favorite, high quality wine making families in Argentina.  Produced in Cafayete, in the province of Salta, one of the highest elevations in Argentina.  The wine has all of the characteristics that you would expect: floral, citrus, acid, with very soft undertones.  However, some Torrontes can be slightly pungent and overly acidic; this one is soft, elegant and approachable.  A beautiful wine with ceviche or grilled white fish.

Luigi Bosca La Linda  exudes rose and lavender aromas, enhanced with white peach and tropical fruit.  Slightly acidic but balanced, filled with floral, orange and lychee fruit flavors.  This Torrontes is a great accompaniment to sushi and grilled shellfish.

Alamos from Catena is intense with critus aromas of oranges and herbs.  The 2008 Torrontes yielded a smaller than normal production due to an extremely cold winter resulting in a late start to the growing season, and early frost prior to harvest. The thinned crop resulted in intense flavor development with bright, crisp acidity.

Andeluna Cellars has created an approachable Torrontes, with fresh white flower and jasmine aromas, followed by grapefruit, apricot and pineapple flavors.  The lingering flavors pair well with shrimp and pasta dishes with a light lemon butter sauce or Asian grilled chicken salad.