Article by Stepan W. Baghdassarian
I am a big fan of wines made from obscure grape varietals, or at least from varietals that have not made it to the consciousness of the wine drinking general public.
Varietals like Tannat, Egiodola, Counoise and Torrontes, don’t get me wrong, I love a good Cabernet, a Pinot Noir or a Chardonnay for that matter, but I also love the discovery and enjoyment of not so popular wines, which could also be great wines depending on the winemaker and its appellation, but no one knows about them yet, outside of few oenophiles and geeks.
For example, most Americans don’t know about Torrontés, the white grape varietal that has become synonymous with Argentina along with Malbec. Torrontés is a delicious white wine with low acidity and a tropical nose which offers relief from the summer heat when it is served chilled. The technical name for the most common type is Torrontés Riojano. DNA testing has shown that Torrontés Riojano is a close relative of Muscat Alexandria, the ancient grape varietal reputedly enjoyed often by Cleopatra. It is believed that Spanish colonist brought it to the new world, since Torrontés is common in Spain as well.
In Argentina, around 33,000 acres have been planted with Torrontes grapes and that makes about 10 percent of all the white wines planted in Argentina and about 20 percent of all white wines sold in Argentina.
During my last trip to Argentina, I had a chance to taste, once again, many wonderful wines, including of course Malbec and Torrontes wines. During my meetings with various winemakers and winery owners, I was informed that, and my taste buds confirmed this, that the best Torrontes wines come from Mendoza and Salta regions of Argentina. Of course Mendoza is the Napa Valley of Argentina. Salta on the other hand is a wonderful wine growing region as well along with La Rioja, San Juan and others.
Mendoza is the leading producer of wine in Argentina, with its vineyards at altitudes between 1,970-3,610 feet above sea level on the slopes and in the shadows of the Andes Mountains. Salta on the other hand, is 750 miles north of Mendoza where the weather is warmer, since you’re closer to the equator. Therefore, Torrontes wines from Salta tend to be sweeter then Torrontes wines from Mendoza.
What to look for in a nice Torrontes wine? First make sure it is well chilled; between 50 to 54 degrees. Color: Pale yellow color with golden tones. Nose: Intense aromas of white flowers, roses, jasmine with gentle touches of citric fruits and white peaches. On the palate: Vibrant acidity and silky long finish. You may not have all of these elements in all Torrontes wines, but the good ones will have most of these elements.
You can enjoy Torrontes by itself or with Asian dishes or with spicy dishes in general, shellfish or with fruits.
Go out and pick a nice bottle of Torrontes today from your favorite wine store; it should run you between $10 to $15 and enjoy it with family and friends. Cheers!
Stepan W. Baghdassarian
Stepan W. Baghdassarian is the owner of Los Angeles based Rio Joe’s Brands, Inc. (www.RioJoes.com), importer and distributor of fine wines including Cas’Almare Wines (www.CasAlmareWines.com from South America and Europe) and Route 1 Wines (www.Route1Wines.com from California). Stepan, a former attorney who caught the wine bug, is now following his passion of producing and sharing with everyone great wines from around the world. He can be reached at Stepan@RioJoes.com, via Twitter @StepanWB or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/redwine.
Stepan W. Baghdassarian will be submitting articles to Groove Studio One with topics about wine and it’s appreciation.