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Tomero Torrontés

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Tomero Torrontés: a Review

Wine is as good as life to a man, if it be drunk moderately: what life is then to a man that is without wine? for it was made to make men glad.
    —Ecclesiasticus, ch. 38, v. 1

(Our sample bottle was purchased by us at standard retail.)

About Tomero Torrontés

The Torrontés grape, Argentina's great white variety, is widely thought to be related to the powerful and profoundly perfumed Muscat grape (Muscat of Alexandria, in particular); Torrontés may not be quite as powerful as Muscat, but when well made (not always the case) it is highly distinctive. It may be said to be one of South America's defining white wines.

Indeed, like "Muscat", "Torrontés" is not truly one grape, but a small family of closely related grapes: Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino. It is said that the Riojano is the preferred form; we don't know the type used in Tomero Torrontés, but as it comes from the Cafayete Valley in the Salta region of northern Argentina, the chances are good that it is from the Riojano grape. More exactly, it comes from high-altitude vineyards (5,500 feet in elevation, if you care); high altitudes are much prized in that region, because they provide the climate needed for good grape-growing.

The winemaker at Tomero, Carlos Pulenta, has a substantial reputation. (And in fact the full name of the wine is "Finca y Bodega Carlos Pulenta Torrontés Tomero"). This is a hefty wine, in many ways: one is the alcohol level, which is 13.4%, though it does not seem "hot".

Tomero Torrontés has sufficient U.S. availability to not be called "rare", and is carried by at least a couple of big retailers. It sells for from about $10 up to $17, averaging $14. Do pay attention to the vintage year being offered, as this is a wine type that one wants as fresh as possible.

Tomero Torrontés: Tasting Impressions

Tomero Torrontés wine is truly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: when it is good, it is really, really good, and when it is not…well, it is not. The difference is not, we feel, in the wine as made, but rather in bottle deterioration before it gets to the consumer. Why this one wine should so often be problematic is hard to say; it could be the corks or the way they are used, or it could be the way this wine travels from the winery to retail. We are not alone in finding this to be the case: William Allen, in his "Simple Hedonisms" blog, had similar experiences—he had to go through three bottles before hitting an undecayed one. Our results are not that bad, more like one in three bad rather than one in three good, but you do need to be aware that there are potential problems here.

The quality of the wine when it is right makes the effort worthwhile, but if you do get an off bottle, don't hesitate to take it back to the retailer for an exchange. As a related side note, Tomero seems to use an awful lot of sulfur on their wine, which may be a hint that they know there are potential problems (thouigh many vintners outside the U.S.A., and some within, do the same); do be sure to give this wine a good airing out before drinking, to let the sulfur aroma blow off.

(Whenever you hit any bottle of wine that you think is defective, stop: do not drink any more than that first taste that told you it was problematic. Return whatever has been poured out into glasses back to the bottle, cork it up, and refrigerate it till you can return it to the retailer. Retailers are, quite understandably, exceedingly reluctant to replace empty bottles of supposedly spoiled wine.)

Tomero Torrontés presents the attractive qualities of its grape quite well. The wine is possessed of a definite and definitive nose, not unlike its supposed parent Muscat, though a tad less ferocious. The flavor follows through on the promise of the nose, giving a grape-y taste (very, very few wines actually taste of grape, chiefly Muscat and close relatives like this). The wine is assertive without being overbearing, and makes refreshing and unusual drinking. It does also show some minerality underlying the strong grape flavors, but it is the grape and floral qualities that dominate the sensory experience. The acidity is sufficient to balance the strong fruit but not so much as to make the wine more than mildly crisp.

You can use this wine in many ways as you might use a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, when you want something assertive and distinctive. With the caveat about possible bottle problems, Tomero Torrontés is highly recommended.

Tomero Torrontés: Other Opinions

On CellarTracker.

On Wine Searcher's Tasting Notes page.

Of some major wine-review sites:





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This page was last modified on Sunday, 17 October 2021, at 2:02 am Pacific Time.