GRAPE VARIETY: FOCUS ON Torrontes, Argentina

Torrontes is a white grape variety grown almost exclusively in Argentina, where it is used to create fresh, aromatic wines with moderate acidity and a very smooth texture. In terms of drinkability, Torrontes wines are most similar to those made from Muscat grapes.

There are three types of Torrontés: a highly aromatic Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, which is less fragrant than the Riojano, and Torrontés Mendocino, the least expressive of the three. They were traditionally grown in the different regions they are named after (La Rioja, San Juan and Mendoza) but today Torrontés Riojano is favoured in all regions because of its superior quality for wine production.

Torrontés Riojano is native to Argentina – a cross between Criolla Chica and Muscat of Alexandria. Typically it is very aromatic with explosive floral, tropical and tree fruit notes. Aromas from the best Torrontes wines include peach and apricot. It can be vinified either as a dry or off-dry wine, or a dessert wine. The most common, dry version, can sometimes have a slight bitterness on the palate, although modern winemaking techniques are eliminating this characteristic. Torrontés is grown all over Argentina but performs best at high altitudes, where the cooler evening temperatures help to retain some acidity and freshness. It is particularly well-known from the valleys in Salta – Cafayate and Calchaquies.

El Esteco Old Vines Torrontes 2018 from the Las Mercedes vineyard in Cafayate represents the ideal example to discover all Torrontes subtleties. This is a classic elegant Torrontes produced from vines over 70 years old. The wine is hand harvested and fermented in concrete eggs with native yeasts. On the nose, tropical fruits and delicate aromas of roses and orange peel. Round and structured on the palate, beautifully balanced with mid+ acidity. Fruits and herbal characteristics in equal portion, with a long savoury finish. Drinking well now, with potential for another 3-5 years.

Critic scores: RP 92, TA 92, JS 91, W&S 90
Food pairing: Spicy food, Vegetarian, Aperitif

Amsterdam, March 23rd 2020