Torrontés is a grape grown widely in Argentina, with 33,000 acres planted between Torrontés Riojano and Torrontés Sanjuanino. Together with my favorite named Torrontés grape, Torrontés Mendocino, Torrontés are crossings of Mission and Muscat of Alexandria, or Muscat of Alexandria and an as yet unidentified grape.
When you hear Torrontés from Argentina, think Zinfandel from California. Both are grapes that grow well in their respective places, both make delicious wines, both have large cult followings, but neither gets the respect they are due.
Just as California winemakers can point to pre-prohibition century old vine field blend Zinfandels and appropriately call Zinfandel “California’s wine,” while the public searches instead for California Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay; so too can Argentine winemakers point to the Torrontés grapes brought by Spanish missionaries and colonists when describing Torrontés wines as Argentina’s wine, while consumers seek out Argentine Malbec and Bonarda instead.
More than any other wine, Torrontés is Argentina’s wine.
Torrontés makes for Argentina’s most unique white wines, typically possessing a yellowish green color, and spicy floral aromas.
Torrontés plantings are mostly found in La Rioja, Salta, Mendoza, Catamarca, Rio Negro and San Juan.
Recently, I tasted my first Torrontés, Concha y Toro’s Trivento Tribu 2009 Torrontés from Rivadavia, Mendoza in Argentina. Grown in the shadow of snow covered mountain peaks, a gift from a friend, the 2009 Trivento Tribu Torrontés Mendoza Argentina $9 is a lovely shade of yellow with a floral citrusy nose of rose and tangerine, and a fresh, medium light bodied, nice lightly acidic/sweet balanced burst of earthy tropical, orange, apricot and peach stone fruit. Really delicious. seriously drinkable. Amazing QPR (quality/price ratio), this wine costs little and tastes great.
Not the easiest varietal to find, but go to a real wine shop and ask the owner to point you toward the Argentine Torrontés, or have him order you some.
I paired the Torrontés with shell fish, steamed mussels and clams, and used the Torrontés in the pot in place of water for the steaming. So good, one of those makes-you-shudder moments. I would also pair this with any nice white fish, or chicken, or pasta, or how about nothing.
While the 2009 Trivento Tribu Torrontés Mendoza Argentina pairs brilliantly with food, it would also go over well just poured into glasses for a gathering of friends.
Cheers to the folks in Argentina who make Torrontés, a delicious new wine find for me, but a wine as much a part of their heritage as Zinfandel is for me and California’s wine industry.
Writing about a Concha y Toro wine and mentioning the Torrontés Mendocino grape is almost wine blogger’s foreplay.
The big news here in Mendocino County this week is that Fetzer Vineyards, the county’s largest winery with annual sales of 2.2 million cases, has been sold by spirits powerhouse Brown-Forman of Louisville, KY to Concha y Toro, the Chilean wine company with the aim of being “a leading global branded wine company.”
The $238 million purchase, which includes Bonterra, the largest premium organic winery in the US, Five Rivers, Jekel and Sanctuary wine brands, goes a long way to increasing Concha y Toro’s visibility on the global wine scene.
My scheduled tour of Fetzer Vineyards with Ann Thrupp, the Manager of Sustainability and Organic Development for both Fetzer and Bonterra Vineyards in Hopland, was cancelled this morning, awaiting a rescheduling by Ann, due to busyness around the winery owing to the transition.
Ann echoes the universal sentiment surrounding Concha y Toro’s acquisition, “it’s good news…we are all very optimistic. It’s an excellent company, committed to wine.”
It is hopeful that with the purchase of Fetzer by a winecentric company, Concha y Toro, the wish of all at Fetzer Vineyards for a Hopland tasting room will become a reality again sooner than later.
DISCLOSURE: As a promotion to boost awareness of Argentina’s wines, the folks at Wines of Argentina contacted me, and a bunch of other wine bloggers and asked them to write about their wines. This month it was to be an article on Torrantes, with different topics being explored each month – say Malbec, the influence of the Spanish or Italian, a look at San Juan vs Mendoza, whatever. Each month the Wines of Argentina folks choose their favorite piece, winners from 6 or more months will be judged once again, and one blogger will earn a trip to Argentina to taste wines. I acknowledge that there is an element of shill-iness about it all, but my piece was an honest review of a recently tasted wine that I didn’t write up and I tied it back to California, Mendocino County, and an individual local winery before I was finished – so if I’m to be judged a whore, I would like you to consider me a playful whore who would enjoy pairing the cuisine of Argentina’s Cuyo region with the wines of San Luis and San Juan.