Argentina produces renowned wines such as Syrah, Tempranillo, Bonarda and Cabernet Sauvignon. But of all the wines it produces, it’s perhaps best known for creating superb Malbecs.
However, Argentina also produces excellent dry white wine such as Torrontés, a light golden wine with fruity flavours and a herbaceous, refreshing acidity.
What is Torrontés Wine?
Torrontés is a white grape variety and is the most widely-grown grape in Argentina. The wines have a moderate acidity and smooth texture with peach and apricot aromas. There are three main types:
- Torrontés Riojano
- Torrontés Sanjuanino
- Torrontés Mendocino
The most common is Torrontés Riojano (around 21,000 acres have been planted in Argentina), which has received attention for the quality of wines it produces. It is the most aromatic of the three with aromas that are evocative of Muscat and Gewürtztraminer wines. In northwest Argentina, the Salta region is noted for its Torrontés as the grape thrives in cold, dry, windswept conditions.
Torrontés wines range from light and fresh to heady and intensely perfumed, often expressing soapy, spicy characters. The three strains of Torrontés are fairly similar with slight differences.
Riojano is the most expressive, Sanjuanino is less focused and Mendocino less aromatic. All three are produced in a crisp style without oak maturation and are best imbibed within one or two years of release.
Where is Torrontés Wine From?
Torrontés is grown throughout Argentina and is increasing in volume because of the rise in Argentine wine exportation where the grape has found significant success in the United States, United Kingdom and abroad. Historically, it has lagged behind Pedro Giménez and Ugni blanc among white grape varieties in Argentina but its steady rise in popularity has allowed it to become the most widely planted white variety.
How is Torrontés White Wine Made?
Each grape flower produces seeds that are unique to the pollen used to pollinate it and those seeds, when planted, produce three different cultivars so the three varieties of Torrontés are essentially siblings. The wine-making process is similar to the production of other white wines. After being hand-harvested from the vineyard, vintners usually wait for the fruits to ripen. They are then passed through a winepress during which the skin and other substances are removed and the juice is squeezed.
Sulphur dioxide is applied to prevent bacterial spoilage prior to the fermentation process. The juice sits for a while, settling down any suspended solids. The fermentation process takes place in a closed tank at a cool temperature to preserve delicate floral aromas. Clarifying agents are added to remove proteins that make the wine cloudy. Thereafter the wine is bottled and labelled.
What Does Torrontés Wine Taste Like?
Torrontés is a medium-bodied white wine with medium acidity and moderate to low alcohol and it ranges in dryness levels from bone dry to medium-sweet. The higher the alcohol, the drier the Torrontés will be so when you buy it, check the label to find the sweetness level you prefer. On the palate, Torrontés taste like Turkish delights, peach juice and lemon tarts.
Torrontés white wine is ideal to match with Asian and Indian cuisine due to its sweet floral aromas of rose petals and flavors of white peach and lemon zest.
Is Torrontés Wine Sweet or Dry?
Torrontés is similar to other aromatic white wines including Riesling and Muscat Blanc with the major difference being that Torrontés is commonly made in a dry style. This makes it an interesting wine because its salty, lean taste is in opposition to its sweet perfumed aromas.
How to Drink Torrontés Wine
Torrontés is a cross between Muscat and Criolla and in Argentina it is frequently quaffed with a twist of lime on the rocks called a Tincho. With its light, aromatic style and cool serving temperature Torrontés is an excellent match with Indian and Asian cuisine. It also makes a great match with coconut curries and Thai spice peanut dishes. In terms of intensity of food, opt for light-coloured meats such as poultry, fish and tofu so that they do not overpower the delicate flavour and aroma in the wine.
What Food to Pair with Torrontés Wine
Torrontés pairs well with a wide array of foods with the determining factor being the level of sweetness of the wine. Dryer styles of Torrontés go well with classic food like fish and chicken. The sweeter styles go well with spicy foods. Herbaceous foods and vegetables pair well with a dry Torrontés.
Food that pairs well with Torrontés:
- Avocado toast
- Feta and watermelon salad
- Grilled calamari
- Grilled chicken with greens
- Tuna tartare
- Vegetarian empanadas
- Chicken Korma
- Mango chicken curry
- Shrimp and pineapple skewers
- Pad Thai
- Jalapeno poppers
- Spicy stir-fried tofu
- Thai green curry
- Grilled scallops or white fish
- Goats’ cheese on fruit toast, drizzled with honey
Gouda, Raclette, Saint-Felicien, Boursin herbed, Feta, Cream cheese, Neufchatel, Bucheron, Derby and Brick
Is Torrontés Wine Expensive?
Like many other wines, Torrontés ranges in price. Here is a list of prices as determined by Wine Searcher:
- Matias Riccitelli ‘Old Vines from Patagonia’ Torrontés, Argentina £32
- Dominio del Plata Susana Balbo Late Harvest Torrontés, Argentina £30
- Passionate Wine Ineditos, Argentina £19
- Dominio del Plata Susana Balbo, Torrontés, Argentina £17
- Bodega Monteviejo Lindaflor Petite Fleur Torrontés, Cafayate, Argentina £16
- Bodega El Esteco ‘Old Vines’ 1945 Torrontés, Cafayate, Argentina £14
Where to Buy Torrontés Wine
You can buy Torrontés online from VINVM which is based in London and some of their products and prices include:
- Melodías Torrontés £7.85
- La Linda Torrontés £9.45
- Alamos Torrontés £9.85
- Blanco de Corte Torrontés/Riesling £9.95
What is Torrontés Wine Similar To?
Torrontés is similar to other aromatic white wines including Riesling and Muscat Blanc (Moscato). The major difference between Torrontés and these white wines is that Torrontés is commonly made in a dry style.
Argentina’s Signature White Grape
Torrontés flourishes in Argentina’s notably high-altitude vineyards, particularly in the Cafayate region of Salta. This region boasts some of the highest vineyards in the world, reaching up to around 10,000 feet above sea level.
Torrontés is susceptible to mildew so the dry, continental Andes environment is excellent in preventing this disease. It is one of the important reasons why Torrontés has rapidly become Argentina’s signature white-wine grape, and one of the most widely grown.