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The Torrontés Grape

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About Torrontés

(Synonyms: Torrontés Riojano: Malvasia, Torrontel, Torrontel Riojano; Torrontés Sanjuanino: Moscatel Romano, Moscatel Sanjuanino Torrontel; Torrontés Mendocino: Chichera, Loca Blanca, Palet, Torrontel, Uva Chichera, Torrontés Mendozino.)


Torrontés grapes Map showing Torrontes-growing regions of Argentina

Torrontés is a white-wine grape originating in South America, probably in its current home of Argentina. Actually, though, Torrontés (like Muscat, to which it seems to be related) is not a single grape type, but a small family of closely related grapes, three in number: Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino. It is hard to say for sure, but chances are that Torrontés wines from the northern provinces of Argentina—La Rioja and Salta—will be the preferred Riojano, while wines from San Juan and the Mendoza area are often one of the other two types. (Also, do beware bottlings of "Torontes" from elsewhere than Argentina, because they are often some other grape altogether that happens to locally be called "Torrontes").

There is a lot of published misinformation about Torrontés, the commonest being marked by an assertion that it originated in Spain; the grapes grown in Spain under that name are totally unrelated to true Argentine Torrontés.

Torrontés is today one of the defining wines of Argentina, indeed one of the defining whites of the South American continent (some is also now made in Chile, though of which kind of Torrontés is less clear). Modern bottlings of Torrontés cover quite a spectrum of quality, from bland plonk to exciting, aromatic and distinctively flavored gems. DNA analysis suggests that one of the parents of Torrontés is Muscat of Alexandria, and better Torrontés wines display some of the characteristic rich aromas and flavors of Muscat wines.

Well-made Torrontés is a medium-bodied wine of some crispness from moderate acidity, and with an assertive nose and palate of stone fruit (typically apricot and peach) with definite overtones of spice and flowers (as in Muscats). It is a wine meant to be drunk while quite young and fresh, and specimens more than a year old should be treated with caution. It is perhaps not a great wine, but it can be very pleasing and refreshing, with an identity all its own. Regrettably, many bottlings trade on the current almost fad popularity of the wines and are sadly mediocre and uninteresting.

Factoid: Torrontés is 10% of the white-grape plantings in Argentina, but 20% of its white-wine sales.

Some Descriptions of Torrontés Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "Torrontés is a white Argentine wine grape variety, producing fresh, aromatic wines with moderate acidity, smooth texture and mouthfeel as well as distinctive peach and apricot aromas on the nose. . . According to wine expert Jancis Robinson, Torrontés has the capability of producing wines of high quality, but its success is dependent on the skill and care of the winemaking process, particularly in maintaining suitable acid levels to balance the wine. At its most ideal, Robinson notes, Torrontés are wines for early drinking that are not too heavy, are high in acidity, and are intriguingly aromatic in a way reminiscent of but not identical to Muscat. But poorer made examples can come across as bitter and excessively alcoholic."

  • Ray Isle, CNN

    "Torrontés, a white grape, makes wines that are flamboyantly aromatic—think bouquet-of-flowers-plus-mandarin-oranges—medium-bodied and full of juicy, citrus flavor. Grow the vines someplace cool, and the wine’s delicious; grow it somewhere too warm, and the stuff goes wildly over the top and smells like a fruit truck some madman drove into a perfume shop. That tends to mean the best Torrontés comes from Salta, in northwest Argentina, where the lowest vineyards are around 5,000 feet elevation and the highest is above 10,000—breathtaking in more ways than one."

  • Jane A. Nickles, Wine, Wit, and Wisdom (the Official Blog of the Society of Wine Educators)

    "Torrontés, a vinifera cross native to Argentina, is known for producing crisp, fruity, and floral wines redolent of peach, apricot, mandarin orange, honey, melon, and rose. While Chile, Spain, and a few other countries grow grapes that go by the same name, Torrontés – actually several closely-related varieties – is grown primarily in Argentina. .  A wine labeled “Torrontés” from Argentina may actually be made from three separate but related varieites. Torrontés Riojano is the most widely grown, the most aromatic, and is considered to produce the highest quality wines. Torrontés Mendocino, the least aromatic, is also the least widely grown; and Torrontés Sanjuanino takes the middle ground. . . Of the versions of the grape grown in Argentina, Torrontés Riojano is by far the most widely grown and renowned. As the name suggests, it thrives in the La Rioja region, and is also widely planted in Mendoza and the Salta region of northern Argentina. It seems to do particularly well in the arid, ultra-high altitude vineyards of Salta where the conditions allow the grape to retain a crisp acidity and develop the intense floral aromas the grape is known for. Torrontés Sanjuanino is planted mainly in the San Juan province, but even there plays second fiddle to Torrontés Riojano. Torrontés Mendocino, despite being named after Mendoza, is rarely seen there and is mostly found in the southern province of Rio Negro."

  • wineaccess

    "The variety yields light, scented white wines with moderate-to-high acidity, recognized for their sleek texture and distinctive aromas reminiscent of Muscat and Gewurztraminer. . . Wines labeled Torrontés are generally light-to-medium-bodied, highly acidic, and exceptionally aromatic, with notes of citrus fruits, peach, floral oils, lichee, and brown spices. While often compared to Muscat (not unjustly), many of these wines are reminiscent of Gewurztraminer, with a light spiciness and floral components on the nose. . However, one important note to consumers: these wines do not age very well, and should ideally be drunk within a year or two of the vintage date. "

  • Wine Searcher

    "Argentine Torrontes is marked by its floral aromas, which are distinctive of its membership of the extended Muscat family. Its scents are often described as soapy and lightly spicy, with the smell of white flowers. . . The wines are usually produced fresh and crisp without oak maturation and are best consumed within one or two years of release."

  • Eric Asimov, The New York Times

    "The ancestry of the torrontés is interesting only in that it most definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to the gloriously fragrant muscat. The best torrontés are highly aromatic, exuberantly floral with a rich, hothouse citrus scent as well. Dip your nose into a glass, and you don’t know whether it ought to be sold as a wine or a perfume. . . It was clear right away that torrontés has issues of identity. These wines were all over the stylistic map. Some were indeed dry, light-bodied and crisp, like pinot grigios. Others were broad, heavy and rich, like ultra-ripe California chardonnays. This may be a problem. . . Wherever the wines landed on the spectrum, we found that their level of quality depended on one crucial component: acidity. Whether light or heavy, if the wines had enough acidity they came across as lively and vivacious. The rest landed with a thud, flaccid, unctuous and unpleasant."

  • Stacy Slinkard, about.com

    "Highly aromatic, with bold florals and exotic fruit on the nose, Torrontes is a light to medium-bodied white wine reminiscent of Viognier on several fronts. On the palate, expect plenty of lychee, citrus and some stone fruit to take the brunt of the action. "

  • Wines of Argentina

    "Torrontés is a light yellow wine that occasionally has golden and green hues. Its aroma is reminiscent of roses, jasmine, and geraniums. In the mouth it is pure fruit salad, sometimes with touches of honey or oregano. Its aromas suggest a sweet wine but its taste reveals a refreshing acidity."

  • James Laube, Wine Spectator

    "The wine is fresh, clean and aromatic at times, reminiscent of Viognier. Other times it is sleeker, with vibrant, juicy acidity and nectarine and mineral notes. It is, by virtue of the aforementioned styles, distinctive. Torrontés is the kind of wine you don't have to think much about, yet it provides an alluring mix of flavors, drinks easy and . . . It's also hard to beat as a value."

Some Torrontés to Try

(About this list.)

There are many, many bottlings of Torrontés widely available, and all at reasonable prices; even limiting to bottlings recommended by multiple sources, there are many. Here are some. Warning! Always take careful note of the vintage year of any Torrontés you are considering buying; expert advice consensus is not over a year or at most two old. We have seen absurdly priced offerings that turn out to be five years old. Caveat emptor!

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Norton "Lo Tengo" Torrontés, $6 - $9.
    (Lujan de Cuyo, sub-region of Mendoza)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Tropical and pure on the nose, this has aromas of lychee, lime, talcum powder and candle wax. It feels juicy and healthy, with flavors of apple, lime and lychee. The finish is steady and pure. 87 points.

    The '05 Lo Tengo Torrontés has intense aromas of roses and peonies, and is off dry, with citrusy and white peach flavors, good depth, and a rich texture. Aged in stainless steel, it shows no oak. Highly recommended. 88 points.

    The bouquet of this wine is light with grape aromatics. On the palate, the wine is round, acidic, and very lively. This refreshing wine would go nicely with spicy Asian food. The finish is slight and dry. The wine is a real good bargain and was a tasting party favorite. 88 points.

    Light gold in color, this wine has aromas of tropical fruit (guava) and honey with distinct floral notes. The fruit flavors are moderated on the palate somewhat with a mild acidity, but are nicely balanced. The finish has good complexity with just a touch of smokiness. Our rating: We enjoy this varietal, but unfortunately don't see it very often. . . We previously rated the Lo Tengo Torrontes 2005 just Average; this vintage [2007] is better.

    The Lo Tengo Torrontes is the most full-bodied of the three wines featured, with aromas of grapefruit, peach and flower petals. The palate is somewhat lush, but not entirely flavorful with decent acidity on the finish. Third place, but still a decent wine for the price. 2.0 Stars.

    Full-bodied but fresh and balanced with flavors of citrus and tropical fruit. .  more reticent aromatically [than some others tasted] though pleasing and balanced enough.

  • Zolo Torrontés, $9 - $12.
    (Famatina, sub-region of La Rioja)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Zolo has a stunning floral and citrus aroma that makes you feel instantly revived. The taste is full of lime, apple and pear, but without the sugary sweetness. Also note the fresh herb notes followed by a crisp and clean finish. Truly delightful, and the price is outstanding.

    Less flowery on the nose than some Torrontés wines, the Zolo shows honeysuckle and a hint of litchi on the nose. The lush, round palate is deliciously tropical in character, finishing long with ripe stone fruit and mandarin zest notes. A nicely balanced wine, it has enough weight to go with baked chicken. 88 points.

    This isn’t a white wine for the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio-drinking set, mind you. It has character, powerful aromatics and real body – delivering up enticing floral aromas and flavors of lime, white peach, and white melon. Not to step on the toes of Old Spice, but this wine also has “bracing” acidity that keeps it fresh and lively, a necessary match for its rich and lush style. It’s a great aperitif, perfect for a hot July afternoon.

    The citrusy scent of this wine immediately escaped when the cork was popped. The glass I poured was pale yellow–and it looked like tiny bubbles were dancing around. The nose of this wine is incredible. Not only is there crisp citrus–but hits of lush tropical fruit as well. This is unlike any white wine you have ever had! Once you take a sip, you will understand my gushing. This wine is nothing like any Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, or Sauvignon Blanc you’ve tasted. The Zolo Torrontes is refreshing, crisp, light, and bursting with amazing flavor–without any cloying sweetness. I am a red wine gal. Usually I only drink white wine when either it is hot outside or there is no red wine. This wine has me singing (and sipping) to a different tune.

    A pale, lemon/green-colored wine with bright aromatics of lemon, tropical fruit, blossom and hints of herbs that all follow through on the light-bodied and crisp palate. An intensely flavored wine with a refreshing finish of apricot and a touch of minerality. Better when it was a bit warmer and held up to our spicy food. A nice wine for the price but nothing memorable. Shows what Torrontes is all about, though not the best one I've ever had. Ready to drink, but still vibrant enough to hold.

    I can taste the citrus and flowers. It has a great crisp finish and I know not only with this be a great vino with the meal, but a great vino with some Thai food or a spicy sea food like shrimp! Yep, this is a great vino that I suggest you pick up and keep around. Gives Chardonnay a run for it's money for sure and at only $14.00 a bottle, I'd say the Mendoza region of Argentina, will be producing some great wines from now and in the future.

    And finally, the other day I sipped on one of my favorite wines from Argentina, a Torrontes produced by Zolo. This is a very refreshing wine, and has a nice floral nose to it that reminds me of fresh flowers. It has a very smooth finish with hints of honey, and is great for a hot day. Definitely a must have for the coming months…

    I loved the Zolo Torrontes 2010! Besides Malbec, Argentina is known for its Torrontes, and this was one of the best I've tasted. . . This is what Torrontes is supposed to taste like—fresh, delicate, and even intense. Serve to anyone who normally drinks Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier—or any other white for that matter.

  • Alta Vista "Premium" Torrontés, $9 - $20.
         ($17.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    The Torrontes that comes from these vineyards is considered some of the best in the world. After a brief maceration on the skins, the Premium Torrontes is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. There is no malolactic fermentation or oak aging. That allows the wine to develop rich and concentrated flavors with a very clean fruit expression. Straw yellow wine with delicate floral, lime and honey aromas. Not that it’s sweet. This really is a white wine unlike anything you had before – fruity with perfect balance of crispy acidity. On the palate you can taste notes of peaches, lemon and honey. This is a lot of complex flavor for around 10 dollars. Nicely done! Beautiful for sipping on its own or paired with a seafood.

    The 2008 Alta Vista Premium Torrontes is much drier than many other Torrontes that you can find out there. If you want a sweeter and fruitier Torrontes, this is not for you if you'd like a more complex Torrontes and the chance to experience this varietal in a different light, then this wine is worth looking for. . . The 2008 Alta Vista Premium Torrontes is a bright golden-yellow color with hints of green. The aromas of the 2008 Alta Vista Premium Torrontes are fairly subtle and consist of honeysuckle and fresh fruit. The flavors of the 2008 Alta Vista Premium Torrontes are not as fruity as the aromas and there can be a sharp aftertaste, perhaps due to the strong alcohol content. This Torrontes is rather dry, medium-bodied, and has a marked acidity. It's less dry with food, but not by a lot.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (January/February 2011), 88 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 90 Points.

    The 2011 Alta Vista Premium Torrontes was harvested via three passes through the vineyard in Cafayate and such exacting standards show in this great wine. It has a boisterous, quasi-Gewurztraminer bouquet of lemon zest, barley sugar and apricot that leaps out of the glass. The palate is well-balanced with peach and elderflower on the entry, and expresses the varietal with some style. This is an effervescent, somehow life-affirming white wine.

    Very pale yellow. Sexy, ripe aromas of white peach and spices. Supple, ripe and sweet, with white peach and spice flavors perked up by yellow grapefruit and lemon peel. Finishes nicely dry, with good texture and lift. Very well made.

    The example from Alta Vista offers delicate aromas of white flowers and curry powder followed by a tactile, saline mouth feel, with hints of gingery spices and bright acidity giving definition to its subtle tropical fruit flavors. The finish is sappy, elegant and persistent. This smooth torrontés has the acidity and pungent character to work well with spicier Asian, Indian or Mexican dishes.

    Seducing flowery nose with exotic fruit hints. Fresh and delicate palate with white pepper and jasmine notes. Silky long finish. 4/5 *

    With floral and slightly citrus notes, this is a more mineral and savory example of Torrontes which goes well with food. The medium mouth has good body for the variety and an unctuous finish but with clean acidity. It’s a great Torrontes but I’m not sure it warrants the extra money as a step above its cheaper sister – their Torrontes Classico at half the price.

    Bright, fresh and aromatic; juicy and lively; aromatic, dry and racy. 89 points.

  • Dominio del Plata Crios "de Susana Balbo" Torrontés, $10 - $14.
    (Cafayate, sub-region of Calchaqui Valley, near Salta)
         ($10.74 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    The 2011 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes is an affordable, delicious Torrontes wine. Crios is well balanced with a crisp finish. The acidity structure is similar to that of Sauvignon Blanc, one of the main reasons it is food friendly. It is a dry white wine with bright floral notes. I love the peach, melon, tropical fruit and honeysuckle in this wine.

    The Crios Torrontés 2008 has the body and complexity of a sweet wine but is decidedly dry. It is quite aromatic with hints of peach, pear, flowers and citrus fruit. On the palate, it has a beautiful structure and acidity along with fruit flavors that keep you coming back for another sip, and plenty of body for a wine that shows such delicate aromas and flavors.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (January 2012), 90 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (December 2007), 90 points.

    The 2007 Torrontes is about as good as this varietal gets. Super fragrant, smelling of a spring flower garden, honey, and exotic spices, from the nose one expects the wine to be sweet. On the palate, however, it is dry with a creamy texture, intense flavors, excellent acidity, and a lengthy finish. It is an ideal alternative for rich courses normally calling for Chardonnay. Drink it over the next 12-18 months. Although Susana Balbos’s Crios offerings are the declassified lots from her more expensive "signature" wines, they need make no apologies. They rank among the best values from my Argentina wine tastings. All of the Crios wines are outstanding values.

    Pale yellow. Sexy, slightly exotic aromas of wild herbs, flowers, licorice, mint and spices. Juicy, saline and dry, with a subtly tactile mouth feel to the flavors of lemon verbena, lavender and botanical herbs. There's an enticing dusty impression of soil here but plenty of sweet citrus fruits too. Savory and serious but there's nothing austere about it. An outstanding example of Argentina's distinctive torrontes, which makes a perfect aperitif.

    If in doubt, buy a Salta Torrontés; it’s the most reliable region for the grape. The Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés has made a lot of waves, and its generally regarded as one of the first to really give the grape a serious identity. While the “Crios” brand is “second-label” in the Balbo portfolio, there’s nothing second fiddle about the wine itself; it’s a matter of pricing, not quality.

    The 2010 Crios de Susana Balbo was fragrant with melon and citrus, and well balanced. . . Well balanced with lingering flavors of mandarin and honeydew.

    The 2012 Crios Torrontés begins with wonderful and complex aromas of tangerine and lime along with hints of mint, sea salt, white pepper and flowers. The wine tastes excellent with a really pleasant texture. The fruit turns more tropical and zesty in the mouth and offers intense flavors with a nice bit of white pepper. This is a very easy to drink wine that would be great with seafood or even some grilled meats, believe it or not. Taste Rating: 7; Cost Rating: 8; Overall Rating: 7.3. Recommended Buy.

    Probably the most popular Torrontés bottling in the US, and for good reason. Winemaker Susanna Balbo effortlessly balances the bright acidity of Salta with the richness of Mendoza to produce a peachy, lush wine that’s still light on its feet.

    The Crios Torrontes has aromas of sweet, white flowers, pears and dried apricots. There is also a lot of apricot on the palate, followed by the softest finish that I’ve had in a Torrontes: very minimal acidity, and a touch of that green, Torrontes finish. I found that the Crios doesn’t pack the “punch” that other Argentine Torrontes have, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on one’s tastes. Its mildness will allow the wine to pair well with many dishes; on the other hand, if you are looking for a stronger, more acidic and more citrus-heavy wine, I would continue searching. That being said, this is the perfect “starter wine” if you have not tried a Torrontes: a lovely intro into the grape and its citrus flavors and light body.

    [Susana] Balbo’s more affordable Crios line consistently delivers outstanding quality for the price. Her Torrontes is a shining star in this collection. Here, the grape’s distinctive aroma is present, but its elegant and not overbearing. White peach, honey and tropical fruit flavors fill your mouth followed by a hint of spice. The palate is softer and rounder than in past years (presumably from going through slightly more malo), but a refreshing seam of acidity keeps this wine completely in balance.

    A water-white, lemon colored wine with bright aromatics of key lime, grapefruit, orange blossom and hints of rose. The wine is light-bodied, yet ripe and intense with stone and citrus fruits along with hints of white pear and flowers on the lush, yet crisp palate. More like the 06 than the 07, this wine needs a bit more time to fully unify its flavors. Was better the second day as the lime and flowers were more integrated into the wine and the stone fruit flavors more prevalent. Still a lovely, complex wine with the acidity keeping the ripeness in balance. Even the Man really liked it, which is rare for a white wine. Will definitely be getting another bottle.

  • Familia Zuccardi "Serie A" Torrontés, $10 - $14.
         ($12.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    The Torrontes is a brilliant white wine with tonalities of pears and citrus that is grown at over 5,000 feet above sea level. The pairing with the delicious calamari salad was perfect to show off the complexity this white wine offers.

    Yellow in color. Butter notes, peach, round, mouth watering finish. The favorite of the White flight.

    ♣ Wine Advocate: (October 2012), 90 points.

    The 2011 Zuccardi Serie A Torrontes from Cafayate in Salta, is 50% direct pressed and sees no oak. It has a fresh grapefruit, nectarine and passion fruit bouquet that is crisp and well-defined. The palate is vibrant on the entry, with a keen thread of acidity and great focus and poise on the white peach-tinged finish. This is one of the best Torrontes wines I have found.

    [Google-translated from Spanish:] Zuccardi Serie A Torrontes 2009 is a wine of intense yellowish-green color, very fragrant and possesses a unique nose, with notes of white flowers such as roses and orange blossoms, and delicate hints of citrus and ripe white fruits. The palate is well structured with vibrant acidity and very aromatic with a delicate finish.

    Long on green fields of white flowers, and on displays of soulful, energetic character.

    [Google-translated from Portugese:] Presented in glass straw yellow color with greenish reflections. Tearful (13.4% alcohol) . Very aromatic, with intense floral top, opening to white lychee and other fruits. Marked acidity with a long finish and some astringency. Dry mouth, no bitter notes. Appeared notes reminding passion. Wine very well done, refescante, with good aromatic complexity and cost-benefit ratio that does not quite excited, but it is not expensive for what it offers.

    Among the wines we tasted at Zuccardi, the Zuccardi Serie A Torrontés 2009 stood out for its floral nose and lemon notes on the palate.

    [Google-translated from Portugese:] Aroma: As expected of a Torrontés, really brought beyond the fruity, a very tasty and surprising floral. In fruity, what most caught my attention were ripe yellow fruit, maybe a melon and a subtle touch of citrus. Even after half an hour in the glass smell remained very persistent. Taste: Balanced, acidity and very aromatic in the right spot, filling the mouth flavors. In the mouth greater emphasis to the yellow fruit.

  • Michel Torino "Cuma" Organic Torrontés, $10 - $15.
    (Cafayate, sub-region of Calchaqui Valley, near Salta)
         ($12.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Elegant nose of quite delicate lemon fruit, with little notes of jasmine and tangerine. A powerful wine, with a pithy, lemon and grapefruit dryness. Nuances of a riper,more peachy fruit before acidity kicks in.

    For a fresh, pure taste of Salta Torrontés, give this crisp, translucent wine a shot. The nose is powdery and tropical, then it’s light on the palate, with lime, lychee and tangerine flavors. Focus is maintained on a juicy, clean finish. 88 points.

    Floral, spicy, ginger, sausage meat, apricot and citrus aromas. Fresh, crisp, dry, juicy palate but more austere. Lemon, apricot, grassy, anise, sausage and ginger flavours. Good intensity and balanced in a drier style for food. Well done. 88 points.

    Crazy value here and delicious drinking. Fresh dry, juicy palate with lemon, apricot, grassy, anise, sausage and ginger flavours. Fine intensity and balanced in a drier style for food. Well done. 88 points.

    Our No. 1 wine, and our best value at $15, was the 2009 Cuma from Michel Torino, from the Cafayate Valley in Salta. With plenty of acidity, the Cuma was fresh and lively, which made its aromas of mandarin and cantaloupe vibrant rather than heavy.

    Cuma means pure and clean in the Aymara language, the pre-Incan ancestral inhabitants of the area. These wines are meant to be enjoyed youthful and fresh, with vibrant fruit and bracing acidity preserved with time in stainless steel. Bright lifted lime, white blossoms and perfume jump out of the glass. Racy lime peel acidity leads a palate of jasmine, white peach, tea and musky papaya. There is a lot going on in this refreshing and jubilant Torrontes, and it will easily lift you out of the rainy January blues (just focus on the sunshiny label).

    Cuma is a pillar of both the organic and Argentinian shelves. Michel Torino makes great wine in a more or less New World style, and his organic line (Cuma) and his torrontés have been on the shelf here since at least 2000. Organic wines often have vintage variation and, as torrontés is not a wine to age, I can’t really compare this wine, 2011, to previous vintages. In general, I found it a little watery, especially compared to the Don Rudolfo. However, it is, like all of Torino’s wines, well made in a dry slightly mineral style.

    The 2009 Torrontes is extremely aromatic, with strong floral notes and citrus fruits. Fresh and vibrant with a decent amount of body, the classic Torrontes acidity comes strong at the end, giving the wine a bit of lift but not a pucker. 3 *

    Torrontés is a white grape indigenous to Argentina, and styles can vary depending on specific regions within Argentina and producers. My pick is a 2010 Michel Torino Cuma Torrontés made from certified organic grapes. This producer grows the Torrontés grape at extremely high altitudes in the Cafayate Valley of Argentina. The altitude, extended periods of sunshine, and limited use of chemicals both in the vineyard and the winery all contribute to the character of this wine. The color alone evokes a sunny day and I am immediately transported to a day that was lazily spent people watching in a small piazza and sunbathing next to a beautiful fountain. It is a light golden lemon hue. On the nose, it is extremely floral — a very aromatic wine. A notable difference from an herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc. On the palette, it is very refreshing and displays a high acidity. Crisp and clean, it has been aged in stainless steel so there is no oak or toast flavors in this wine. You won’t get the creamy texture of a California Chardonnay here. It is well balanced, with plenty of citrus flavors-lemon, grapefruit. Tasting through the layers, I also get some stone fruit flavor like apricot and peach. The finish is medium to long. At $16.50 I am impressed with the value of this wine. While I wouldn’t save it for a special occasion (it’s meant to be drunk young to enjoy the fresh floral & fruit flavors) I would definitely feel good about bringing this to my ladies night gatherings at my best friend’s house for a nice change.

  • Bodegas Colome Torrontés, $11 - $20.

    Some quotations and facts:

    This wine is a gorgeous pale straw color in the glass, with aromas of fresh flowers with citrus tones. On the palate there are some floral notes with nectarine and bright fresh citrus flavors, especially grapefruit. There is good acidity, but it is a rou nd, balanced wine that has a long, pleasant aftertaste. It tastes best when slightly chilled. I took it out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving, and it was fine. This is a complex and graceful, elegant wine.

    The 2010 Colomé Torrontés has pleasing and fresh aromas of citrus, honey, and peach. The wine tastes of peach, lime, even some guava, papaya or other tropical fruits and has a nice acidity. The finish is outstanding...the flavor intensifies and then lingers nicely for a long time. This is also a wine that will pair with lots of different foods. It was a great match for the grilled chicken with mint, red onion, and lemon and rosemary dijon mustard potatoes we ate with it. Two thumbs up for this bottle. Taste Rating: 8; Cost Rating: 7; Overall Rating: 7.8. Recommended Buy.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (March/April 2013), 88 points

    ♣ Wine Advocate (October 2012), 87 points

    Bright, pale yellow. Very pure, perfumed aromas of ginger, licorice, rose petal and brown spices. Concentrated, supple and ripe, with impressive sappy intensity to the flavors of spices and fresh herbs. Builds nicely on the back half, finishing with lovely saline persistence and chewy grip.

    Very pale yellow. Subtly spicy aromas of lemon and grapefruit peel, flowers and mint. Juicy, dry and firm-edged, with spice and floral notes and a bit of unabsorbed CO2 contributing cut and lift. Ultimately a wine of modest material and length for this label. The clean finish features lingering, slightly tart citrus, mint and spice notes.

    Beautifully aromatic: grapey, perfumed and a bit limey. The palate has a nice rich texture with sweet grapey fruit and a hint of lychee. Lovely stuff. 90/100

    Elegant and aromatic, with a chalky edge to the Meyer Lemon, tangerine and floral notes.

    This fresh, youthful white wine is dry but very fruity for a torrontes, a varietal in which mineral flavors often prevail. Savvy wine drinkers have realized by now that torrontes is a very appealing varietal, and clearly Argentina's best white grape. This version offers intense, electric flavors of lime, grapefruit, orange and tropical fruit — with bracing acidity and a long, clean finish. It's best enjoyed in its exuberant youth.

    It has a very similar bouquet to the 2011, although the palate is much fresher and vibrant with subtle Conference pear and bruised apple notes towards the finish. It is simple, but refreshing.

    Grown in Cafayate at 5,600 feet, this has all the floral aspects of torrontes, along with a rich sweetness and a strict structure, which will soften in the company of fish curry.

    Golden colour. Big and spicy nose with ripe tropical fruits, spice and flowers. Medium bodied almost fat dry taste of ripe tropical fruits. Great concentration and freshness even though it is quite aromatic. Serious food wine!

    The Colome 2010 version of Torrontes shows honeysuckle, jasmine and orange zest on the nose, more perfumed than even Viognier. On the palate, it has apricot, guava, grapefruit, honeycomb, kefir (sour) lime leaf and a sense of brewed tea, like orange pekoe. It sure delivers flavor wise, with orange marmalade closing out the sustained finish. It's quite refreshing for the sweltering summer months ahead.

  • Coquena Torrontés, $12 - $22.
    (Cafayate, sub-region of Calchaqui Valley, near Salta)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Pale yellow. Slightly hazy unfiltered appearance. Citrus peel, apricot and a hint of tropical fruits on the nose, complicated by a subtle leesy nuance. Ripe, round and dry, with a seriously chewy, saline mouth feel. Complex flavors of fruits, herbs, minerals and flowers. Finishes dry and long, with a strong impression of dusty minerality.

    Coquena Torrontes Salta 2010. Grade=Outstanding. Really intense, with hints of white pepper, dragon fruit, chayote and mineral, following with lime zest, brine and apricot skin. An extreme Torrontes.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (March 2012), 90 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (December 2011), 91 points.

    The 2011 Torrontes stretches the envelope of quality for this essentially indigenous variety. Fragrant aromas of lemon, tropical, and floral notes lead to a ripe, rich, vibrant style of Torrontes that will provide much pleasure over the next 12-18 months. It is an outstanding value.

    Time to get tasting this light, lemon green liquid that was nicely frosting my class in front of me. Having tasted my fair share of Torrontes since moving to Argentina I was expecting the nose to display the delightful full floral bouquet that I have become accustomed too, but apart from common descriptors like, citrus, lemon, honey, a hint of orange blossom I found that Coquena was a little more green than usual. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, especially if that is your tastes, but the herbaceous, almost asparagus like notes were not doing it for me. I felt, just from the aroma, that maybe it was getting to the end of its young life and every last bottle of Coquena Torrontes 2010 should be drunk up now before it loses anymore of its sweeter notes. So drink up I did and I was actually very pleasantly surprised! Light body with beautiful high dancing acidity, as it should be, with a clean re-freshing entrance of lemon, peach and grapefruit, while the finish developed into a wonderful savoury nuttiness, with just a hint of flinty minerality that lingered for an expectational amount of time, an unexpected pleasure considering my slight olfactory aversion to the aroma.

    No oak, light fining, light filtration. Alcohol: 13.8%. Nose: lemon peel, sweet citrus. Palate: minerality and great acidity, rich, long finish.

    From a winery named after a mystical Argentine elf - and why not? - this fresh, vibrant white has lots of texture, but isn’t heavy.

    The Etchart family was among the first wine pioneers in Salta, understanding the qualities this region had to offer. Their vines are quite young (14 years) but ungrafted, thus consistently producing wines that are luscious and well balanced. Vineyards are low-yielding and planted at approximately 5,500 feet. The nose offers cottony citrus notes and the wine has a very nice structure on the palate – firm but not bouncy.

    [V]ery pretty nose, lush mouthfeel but enough acidity to keep it interesting.

    [Google-translated from Portugese;] The Coquena Torrontés has wonderful freshness and shows sharp lush floral aromas, notes and tropical fruit, apricot, citrus and mineral touch. A gastronomic wine with a long finish.

  • Trapiche Broquel Torrontés, $14 - $17.
    (Cafayate, sub-region of Calchaqui Valley, near Salta; 5% Sauvignon Blanc blended in.)
         ($17.34 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Every year this wine seems to get better. This vintage deals notes of lemon pie, melon and lychee on the bouquet, which is followed by a palate that’s oily yet racy. Flavors of lychee and pineapple are true to Torrontés, while green herb and lime notes stir things up. 89 points. [A Wine Enthusiast "Top 10 Best Buy" for 2013.]

    If you want to taste something that's even better, albeit a little more expensive, the concentrated, complex 2008 Trapiche Broquel Torrontés, Cafayate, a wine that contains 5% Sauvignon Blanc for added freshness, is the business. Buy it and be ahead of the crowd.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 85 points.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 88 points.

    It's almost sherryish on the nose and on the palate it's certainly off-dry, almost Germanic in character, with notes of honey and candied lemon but with a purity of fruit and almost Champagne-esque clean edge that stops it from cloying. It contains 5% Sauvignon Blanc, which probably contributes a crisp acidity that balances out the richness nicely.

    This wine is gorgeous. Light yellow in color with a faint golden hue, it has a stunning perfume of lichee nut, melon, spice, and citrus. It has gorgeous fruit with hints of the same components of lichee nut, melon, spice, and citrus and is lush and flavorful, yet elegant and balanced with an underlying crispness –- Outstanding. Best Buy, 3 *

    This is a spicy number from the first sniff to the first hit on the palate. Peppery and floral with a pronounced acidity. This mix quickly gives way to hints of apple and honey, even touches of cinnamon and thyme. All of these notes and its soft, lush finish make it an ideal seafood accompaniment.

    [Reviewer #1]: "Tart pineapple and lime with a touch of almond on the finish. (3 stars)"
    [Reviewer #2]: "Melon aroma with flavors of pineapple and citrus. (3 stars)"

    The wine has a deep yellow lemon color. The wine has very nice floral and fruity aromatics on the nose with hints of litchi, roses and ripe yellow fruits. In the mouth, the wine is medium body with a good depth, pleasant acidity and flavors of ripe yellow fruits, finishing with a discreet sensation of sweetness. A very pleasant and fresh wine for the fish or white meat dishes. Good+

  • Terrazas de los Andes "Reserva" Torrontés, $14 - $20.
    (Cafayate, sub-region of Calchaqui Valley, near Salta; 5% Sauvignon Blanc blended in.)
         ($20.24 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Torrontes is a terpenic grape (terpenes are a class of flavour compound also found in Muscat and Gewurztraminer). There are two sides to terpenes: they can lose elegance and show tinned peach character, or they can go more floral with orange blossom and rose petal notes. This is aromatic, fresh and floral with orange blossom and some tangerine notes. Soft textured palate with nice freshness and bright fruit. 88/100.

    [T]he 2012 Reserve Torrontes, a wine from the Salta region of Argentina, was fruity and crisp with aromas of lemon grass and grapefruit. Hints of tropical and stone fruit were apparent. The wine has a complex smooth finish.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 90 points.

    The 2010 Torrontes Reserva is sourced from Cafayate. It offers up a captivating nose of mineral, peach, mango and pineapple: leading to a crisp, dry, impeccably balanced wine that will serve well as both an aperitif and savory courses. Torrontes does not get much better than this.

    Very pale color. Pear, licorice and flowers on the nose, plus a whiff of exotic lichee. Fresh, dry and penetrating, with sexy jasmine and rose petal hints contributing to the wine's impression of lightness. The lively finish offers very good cut. A very light style of torrontes.

    Attractive Muscat-style grape fruit with floral and earthy fragrance. Intense, beautiful with a long, lean nutty finish and good weight. 5/5 *

    Torrontés is a very unusual variety. The characteristic upfront floral perfume can be quite challenging. Highly aromatic. Its perfume is of orange blossom, musk and rose, perhaps even aniseed, blackcurrant and banana. It smells like a warped Gewürztraminer or Muscat. There’s a density of flavour on the palate that would be expected with a more viscous wine. It’s texturally delicate, but charged with flavour and finishes with powdery talc minerality. An impression of sweetness is apparent, though I’d say that residual sugar is low. It’s interesting, but hard to recommend. However, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of people would enjoy a glass of it if served blind. Not really a wine for drinking a lot of, and most likely very difficult to match with food. The jury is out.

    It is unoaked, which implies that fruit flavours dominate, making this an ideal wine for a (yet-to-come) summer day. It’s showing floral notes, which is characteristic for Torrontés. There’s also some melon and canned asparagus, supported by solid acidity. The finish lingers quite nicely.

    Aromas of ripe oranges and flowers but a touch hot.

    This large, Mendoza-based producer uses fruit from Salta’s high-altitude vineyards for this elegantly layered white.

    This winery's high altitude vineyard (at 5,900 feet!) delivers a broad range of popping aromatics that goes beyond that of most torrontes. There are often notes of ginger and tangerine peel that I love.

    One Torrontes I recently tried was the Terrazas de los Andes Torrontes Salta 2010, produced by Moet-Hennessy and senior winemaker Adrian Meyer. Grade=Outstanding, this wine is crisp and lively with white flowers in the nose, a bit of lychee, apricot and melon across the palate, and finishing with well-balanced minerality. I have had some other Torrontes recently . . . and the Terrazas stands out for its price point (you could find it for around $16). Definitely look this one up, and explore the interesting qualities of this uniquely Argentine grape.

For a Splurge

This is another of those occasional wine types for which the moderately priced spectrum includes most or all of the excellent bottlings, which is a roundabout way of saying that there aren't any manifest "splurge" choices. For a splurge, treat yourself to several bottles of your favorite, or a mixed case if you haven't settled on a favorite.

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