An Argentinian wine merchant’s guide to Torrontés
Despite its being the signature white grape of Argentina and a quality wine, most people have never heard of Torrontés. This crisp, dry white wine is unique to Argentina, excelling in the high altitudes of the northern Salta region. Typically, the best Torrontés is grown at an altitude of over 6,000 feet.
Possessing a good acidity, it is a particularly refreshing wine. However, with its strong floral nose it is known to divide opinion. As with Pinot Noir, though perhaps somewhat less vehemently so, some people love it, some hate it.
As well as its distinctive floral, Muscat-like nose, Torrontés will also demonstrate a citrus flavour. Hints of lemon and lime combine with an intriguing minerality – a quality which typifies good Torrontés.
For those worrying about food and wine matching, the fragrant and intense nature of Torrontés means it goes extremely well with spicy food, making it an excellent addition to an Indian or Chinese meal, for example. However, its flavour does not limit it to being drunk alongside these foods. Its complex flavour also excels when consumed in conjunction with chicken and seafood.
What to look for
As the best Torrontés is grown at over 6,000 feet, when looking to buy a boutique wine, look to see if the bottle’s label says at what altitude the grapes were grown. In terms of regions, the best Torrontés generally comes from the province of Salta in northern Argentina, particularly the valley of Cafayete. However, if you are unable to find a bottle from this region, the Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja areas are also known for their fine Torrontés.
As with most unoaked white wines, as any wine merchant will tell you, you should drink a Torrontés as young as possible to be sure of a full and rewarding flavour. Although the better wines will last two or three years, their quality will deteriorate rapidly once they have peaked. Put simply, when looking for a quality Torrontés, buy young.