The Trouble with Torrontes
Torrontés is notable for two reasons:
- It’s a unique grape that is, for the most part, only grown in Argentina (there’s a Spanish grape of the same name but it’s not the same grape).
- It’s from Salta, the highest-altitude wine growing region in the world.
The latter point suggests these wines will be highly aromatic and austere, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes they are quite crisp, but other times, somehow, they play more like super-ripe Cali whites, with rich sweetness and lush mouthfeel.
I recently picked up two bottles and broke them open on a warm summer evening:
- Nieto Senetiner Valle de Cafayate Torrontes 2012, a Chairman’s Selection
- O Fournier Urban Torrontes Uco Argentina 2011, from the PLCB Premium Collection
Both wines offer similar flavors, so much so that it’s immediately obvious they’re made from the same grape. On the nose, there’s a sweet, powerful, honeysuckle element. Even on the palate, both wines are rather sweet (13% and 13.5% ABV respectively, btw), featuring notes of herbs and ginger alongside tropical fruit (which almost serve to make it medicinal). Though rich and unctuous, the finish veers towards flabby.
From a comparison standpoint, the Nieto is more rustic and rough. Its flavors are more assertive, but it falls apart on the end, whereas the Urban is silky smooth through the finish.
All told, the lack of crispness on both wines left me discouraged. Though the robust dulcitude was initially appealing – and could have been habit-forming if paired with a lively, mouthclearing pucker on the finish (see: Riesing, Mosel) – the acid’s failure to materialize put me on the fast track to palate fatigue.
Moving into fall, with heartier cuisine and cooler nights, however, these might feel more germane. And, at $9.99 and $12.99 respectively, they’re reasonable buys, especially if you’ve never experienced the grape.
Have you found Torrentés with a crisper bite? Let us know in the comments!