A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Torrontés - Argentina

I figured I'd kick this blog off with a post about a wine that is available across the country, but which many people may not have tried.

Torrontés is a white wine which is a specialty of Argentina. There are apparently quite a few different grapes, all very closely related genetically but not identical, that typically make up a bottling of Torrontés. Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino are the three individual varieties most likely to be in your bottle of Torrontés, with Torrontés Riojano being the best of the bunch, quality-wise. All three variations are thought to come from a crossing of Mission, a grape with a long history in California, and Muscat of Alexandria, which will make a lot more sense to you once you get a whiff of a good Torrontés.

Torrontés is amazingly aromatic, with an explosively floral nose that smells an awful lot like a Moscato D'Asti or a late harvest Muscat from Alsace. One sniff and you'll swear you're about to drink something rich and sweet, but when the wine hits your tongue, confusion sets in. The wine is light and crisp with green apple flavors. The flowers disappear on the palate and the rich, heady wine you were expecting never materializes. It's a slightly disorienting experience that I have every single time I try a Torrontés. I know it's not going to big and sweet, but the message I get from my nose and my mouth just don't want to mesh together.

So should you try it? Absolutely. If the wine were merely an exercise in sensory discordance, it wouldn't be worth much at all, but it does deliver in its own unique way. Come for the nose, stay for the flavor. It is an excellent summertime sipper and pairs with a wide variety of foods. Think somewhere between a Sauvignon Blanc and a dry Riesling to get a good idea of food matches.

Alamos and Crios are the two producers I have seen the most. The Alamos bottling is a little more restrained and certainly more austere on the palate. The Crios has such a positively knee-buckling aroma that you may be tempted to dab a little behind your ears. It's a bit fuller bodied and flavored on the palate than the Alamos as well. Both bottlings are available for around $15-$20.

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