My sleeper hit white wine of any summer is torrontés. I’ve been pushing people to try it for years, because on the porch or poolside, it bridges the gap between sweet wine lovers and dry wine drinkers.
The descendant of the moscato grape and signature grape of Argentina is being produced in an ever-expanding range of styles. Some are off-dry to sweet and clearly channel their moscato parentage. Others torrontés are more refined and come off tasting very much like a dry riesling, with all the food pairing flexibility that goes with that style.
The refreshing white wine market is very crowded. Torrontés has no significant plantings or name recognition outside Argentina. Still, torrontés’ value and quality mean that you can almost always find a few.
A white wine such as torrontés does not benefit from aging — at all. It is easy to accidentally pick up one with three or more years on it (as I did) when I saw one at a good price.
While I think of torrontés as a leisurely wine, some stand above and show the real potential of the grape. One of these is Zuccardi Serie A 2015 Salta Torrontés, with freshness and floral smell and flavors of banana and passionfruit — a balanced wine with an acidity that invites food such a brunch fare and seafood. This wine is closer to a dry Gewürztraminer than a moscato. $14. ★★★★ 1/2.
Zuccardi makes a Mendoza torrontés that is even more widely available in Pennsylvania and just $10. I have not tried this one but generally, Zuccardi is a reliable brand.
The floral, fruity Alamos 2015 Salta Torrontés is a typical quality torrontés, with aromas that jump out of the glass and vibrant melon and peach characters, lifted by just the right amount of sweetness, offset by a crisp finish. This is an excellent introduction to the variety. $11. ★★★★ 1/2.
Etcetera 2014 Valle de Uco Torrontés is orangey with a hint of sweetness and a flavor of Clementine pith and a slightly bitter touch in the finish. $8. ★★★ 1/2.
La Yunta 2013 Famatina Valley Torrontés offers a cautionary tale. The wine shows some aged character and some nuttiness. A 2013 is just too old for fresh, young wine like torrontés. Remember that in the southern hemisphere, the harvest is in the fall, so the vintage is actually about half-a-year older than those from the northern hemisphere. $7. ★★★.
GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.