In an attempt to describe Torrontés, Argentina’s signature white wine, some have compared it to Pinot Grigio, Viognier, even Riesling. But none come close. Made from the grape of the same name, Torrontés is like no other. It begins with an aroma that conjures up a bouquet of flowers (the honeyed, perfumed Muscat of Alexandria is one of its ancestors), hinting that a sweet wine will follow. But no, Torrontés goes toward dry and fruity with a tangy and spicy edge. It is the perfect aperitif and equally right with shellfish, Niçoise salad, chicken, other white-meat dishes, lightly flavored cheese and many Asian foods.
As Americans discover this intriguing wine, they will also discover that, with a myriad of choices, even the most attractive Torrontés usually costs under $20.
And what are the most attractive Torrontés? Among two dozen that I’ve recently tasted, these are my favorites.
Xavier Flouret Flaca 2008 ($18) is one of the most elegant Torrontés, with a delicate floral nose that hints of apricot and peach; a dry, round, well-structured body; a fruit-filled taste and vibrant acidity; and a long, delicious finish.
Its Muscat ancestor comes to the fore in Lo Tengo 2009’s ($11.50) vivid, flowery aroma. It goes on to be a clearly focused, intensely flavored, bright and satisfying wine.
There is a suggestion of sweet mint and an evocation of orange and peach in Finca La Linda 2009’s ($11) aroma, followed by a relatively full body and excellent balance. Altogether a pleasing, inviting wine.
Finca El Origen Reserva 2009 ($12) is clean, crisp and refreshing, offering a typical Torrontés floral flavor with pear and peach overtones and a gentle reminder of citrus fruits in the mouth. A particularly harmonious wine.
The delightful Pascual Toso 2009 ($15) combines keen fruit flavors, herbal notes and a fresh lemony acidity with a trace of honey and floral tones.
Following its aroma of fresh flowers and ripe fruit, Colomé 2009 ($15) is a graceful wine with citric notes reminiscent of grapefruit.
The pale-shaded Dominio del Plata’s Crios 2009 ($13.50) has a lilac-scented aroma with peach overtones followed by a dry, tangy taste.
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