Etchart Torrontes Cafayate 2000
With vineyards tretching along the eastern side of the Andes Mountains from Patagonia in the south to Salta in the north, Argentina is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic wine producing countries—and most important in South America.
Since the late 20th century vineyard investments, improved winery technology and a commitment to innovation have all contributed to the country’s burgeoning image as a producer of great wines at all price points. The climate here is diverse but generally continental and agreeable, with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters—a positive, as snow melt from the Andes Mountains is used heavily to irrigate vineyards. Grapes very rarely have any difficulty achieving full ripeness.
Argentina’s famous Mendoza region, responsible for more than 70% of Argentina’s wine production, is further divided into several sub-regions, with Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley most noteworthy. Red wines dominate here, especially Malbec, the country’s star variety, while Chardonnay is the most successful white.
The province of San Juan is best known for blends of Bonarda and Syrah. Torrontés is a specialty of the La Rioja and Salta regions, the latter of which is also responsible for excellent Malbecs grown at very high elevation.
Unapologetically fun and distinctively fragrant, Torrontés is regarded as the signature white grape of Argentina. In many ways it bears a striking resemblance to Muscat (and in fact is an offspring of Muscat of Alexandria), but the primary difference between the two is that Torrontés is almost always vinified to produce a decidedly dry wine. Grown extensively throughout Argentina, it performs best in the Salta region. Small amounts are also planted in neighboring Uruguay.
In the Glass
No one has ever accused Torrontés of being shy in either aroma or flavor. Notes of rose petal, geranium, stone fruit, Meyer lemon, ripe melon and orange blossom leap out of the glass, and the palate refreshes with a healthy dose of acidity and a streak of salinity. Torrontés should be consumed in its youth to highlight its vibrancy and primary fruit flavors.
Torrontés needs no food—it is delightful on its own as an aperitif wine. However, it can be quite a pleasant pairing with Asian or Indian cuisine, especially coconut curries. Stick to lighter fare like poultry, pork or seafood in sauces that are flavorful but not heavy.
If you’re in search of a new summer sipper, look no further than Torrontés. These wines are always inexpensive, delightfully refreshing and are best enjoyed in the sunny outdoors at a picnic, poolside or as a porch sipper.