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Tasty Torrontés

Northside Staff
Tasters: Dave Pohl, ed., Dana Malley, Kelley O’Neill, Alice Peters, Chris Coronel, Jay Reed, Travis Mordus, Jason Wentworth

Many wine drinkers are familiar with the red wines of Argentina made from the Malbec grape. Fewer, one guesses, are familiar with a second Argentine gift to the vinous world, Torrontés.

The smell and taste of Torrontés wine is reminiscent of Viognier or Muscat, or both. The wines exhibit a heady, floral perfume that can be quite seductive. There is frequently a peppery note as well, which adds interest to the citrusy flavors of Torrontés. The best examples are crisp, brightly fruited, and refreshing.

The name Torrontés is actually applied to three different grape varieties, each of which is related to the grape Muscat of Alexandria. The best variety is probably the Torrontés Riojana, named for Argentina’s La Rioja province. Official figures indicate that in 2001, 20,000 acres of Torrontés were planted, making it the most widely planted white wine grape in Argentina. Much of that acreage is found in La Rioja and the incredibly high altitude vineyards of the Salta province, both areas located to the north of the better known Mendoza region.

The staff at Northside Wine and Spirits recently blind tasted ten different Torrontés wines. The wines as a group were well made and enjoyable. The best wines had wonderful, floral aromas and refreshing, citrusy flavors that frequently finished on a faintly peppery note.

The first place wine was the Trivento 2008 Torrontés Select [sku 11097]*, extremely affordable at $9 per bottle. This crisp, bracing wine exhibits a lovely lime/citrus character framed by hints of peach and pepper. It is a great summer quaffer. Also of note was the even less expensive Astica 2008 Torrontés [sku 11272]*. Priced at only $6 a bottle(!), it has an appealingly grapey nose and a zippy, thirst quenching palate.
Both of these wines would be a terrific addition to any summer picnic. Otherwise, the bright acidity of these wines would be a good counterpoint to rich, creamy dishes, while their unoaked fruitiness suggests a partnership with spicy dishes. Torrontés is also brilliant as a well chilled apéritif.

*To Purchase this wine, simply type its "Sku" into the "Find" field at the top of the page, then click "Go."

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