What Torrontés gets from Mendoza

This classic varietal has its natural cradle in the North, but it is definitely getting a new wave in cooler areas.

Torrontés from Mendoza.

Torrontés from Mendoza.

By origin, history, and adoption, Torrontés could be labeled as “white Malbec”. Far from having organoleptic similarities, they do share (in different scale and success) the place of the “flag” varietals of Argentina. In the case of the white strain, those who know ensure that it is the most distinctly Argentine varietal, given that it has no other place in the world where it is grown and that it would be almost impossible to obtain the conditions for it to do so.

Torrontés, DNA.

Torrontés, DNA.

It is important to clarify that when in Argentina we talk about this variety in terms of winemaking, we refer to “Torrontés Riojano”, which naturally gives rise to confusion because the other two types of Torrontés are called “Mendocino” and “San Juanino”, and the three of them are gerunds from Argentine provinces. Last two are not cultivated for quality wine production.

Now, this article seeks not only to give a quick overview of what Torrontés is for Argentina, if not to focus (and taste!) on what implies a new trend: Torrontés (Riojano) from Mendoza.

Of course, the natural cradle of the varietal is the famous and well-considered NOA. Cafayate, for instance, would be probably its home if we were obligated to define one. Very high solar exposure and thermal amplitude are some of the conditions that strengthened this link decades ago. Even so deep-rooted is that combination that wineries and producers along the country use to elaborate Torrontés from Salta within its portfolio; Karim Mussi with ‘Abras’, Zuccardi Wines with ‘Serie A’, or Alta Vista with ‘VIVE’, are some examples.

However, it is common nowadays to find wineries in Mendoza proudly producing their Torrontés in colder areas, in their own province, especially in the Uco Valley. So we made a tasting with the main references of the segment.

Torrontés: Salta VS Mendoza

Torrontés: Salta VS Mendoza

 

“We sought to change the style of Torrontés, in a very cool place such as the Uco Valley, to achieve elegance and subtlety, a white wine no longer as warm and intense as the one from Salta, which also allows us to get a wine with gastronomic potential“, says Facundo Bonamaizon, agronomist at Chakana Wines, which sells its wines in the USA under the brand name “Inkarri”.

Indeed, what you can tell from the tasting is clearly greater freshness, greater subtlety and an aromatic aspect that tends to spicy, herbal and citrus notes. Considerable contrast with the well-known northern Torrontés that surprises and subdues with its strong expression and concentration of ripe fruits and flowers.

“The northern Torrontés are more terpenic, whereas in Altamira the linalool stands out, which implies a more citric character, explains Susana Balbo, a real benchmark in terms of white wines in Argentina.

The contrast is very broad even along Mendoza. Historically Torrontés was produced in the East, where mainly high-volume wines are produced, and maybe is where the wines are more similar to Northern ones, with more concentration. On the West, among the valley, we find big differences too within subzones”, explains Facundo.

Tim Atkin, one of the international critics with more presence in Argentina during the last decades, has marked Torrontés in his reports as one of the points to have in radar for what comes in Argentine wine, so you better listen to him.

 

Torrontés, intensity scales.

Torrontés, intensity scales.

AND BITTER TASTE?

It is also interesting to focus on a typical characteristic of Torrontés: final bitterness. The presence of terpenes in the variety generates delicious aromas in the nose, but in the mouth, it uses to show this singularity. Well, the contrast is noticeable, since across these wines from Mendoza it is almost not perceived or at least it is not dominant. The search for greater elegance and freshness, and to mitigate this bitter aspect, have in common a winemaking technique: earlier harvest. If the point of maturity is lower, the terpene does not crack in the mouth and the wine gives more herbaceous and citrus notes.

 

Check each tasted torrontés below!

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Delicious reference of #torrontés from cold zones! (Yes, we love what we found on that tasting!). In this case, from #Gualtallary (3,600 ft), #UcoValley. @ChakanaWines, important reference of organic and biodynamic winemaking in Argentina, used to make a classic torrontés from #Cafayate, Salta, years ago. However, they have recently decided to bet on this area from #Tupungato to achieve a torrontés that is "elegant, subtle but with great aromatic power, herbaceous profile, and gastronomic potential," says @fbonamaizon, Agronomist of the winery (the enology is in charge of Gabriel Bloise). All of this came up in the tasting, even with a clear earthy and mineral trait, which matchs with its birthplace and its terroir. Lovely white! Chakana markets its wines in the USA under the 'Inkarri' brand and its importer is @naturalmerchants. #Argentinewine #winelover #winegeek #mendoza

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Pablo Santos

@pablosann

Pablo is a marketing professional with 10 years of experience in digital advertisement and 5 years specifically in the world of wine. He was recently Marketing Director at Achaval-Ferrer, and today he runs La Veramente, his own marketing agency focused on wine. He has been running the VinoApp project from 2016.

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