Our recent article on Tantalizing Torrontés for Summer identified our ten favorites. Not surprisingly, most of them came from the mile-high Valle Calchaquíes in Salta province. Since that time we’ve received several others, from premium growing areas in the Famatina Valley in La Rioja, the Tulum Valley in San Juan, and the Valle de Uco in Mendoza. They include an unusual, very dry sparkling Torrontés made using the methode champenoise. Reviews of earlier vintages of some of these wines can be found in our Report # 26 The Diverse Wines of Argentina.
The US importer of the following wines is Vino del Sol of Corralitos, CA (vinodelsol.com).
Fincas Patagónicas 2011 Zolo Torrontés La Rioja ($11) 88 Less flowery on the nose than some Torrontés wines, the Zolo shows honeysuckle and a hint of litchi on the nose. The lush, round palate is deliciously tropical in character, finishing long with ripe stone fruit and mandarin zest notes. A nicely balanced wine, it has enough weight to go with baked chicken. The winemaker at Zolo is Fabian Valenzuela. The fruit comes from the high altitude Famatina Valley in La Rioja province. A nitrogen blanketing system is used during pressing to virtually eliminate exposure to oxygen.
Manos Negras 2011 Torrontés San Juan ($15) 89 Refreshing, crisp and quite different from what one expects from Torrontés, this wine from the high Tulum Valley in San Juan Province is mineral like and almost austere on the nose and reveals bracing acidity (it doesn’t go through malo), lime citrus, and just a hint of rose petal on the palate, finishing with chalky minerals. Think of this wine as a refreshing alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Easy drinking and delicious. Owner, American Jeff Mausbach, works with two New Zealand winemakers, Jason Mabbett and Duncan Killiner, to make this wine. Blend of 95% Torrontés and 5% Viognier.
Bodega Tapiz 2011 Torrontés La Rioja ($15) 90 This wine is a blend of 90% Torrontés and 10% Chardonnay from Famatina Valley in La Rioja province. Beautifully balanced with a mineral edge, this is a serious wine that is well structured with good acidity, light tannins, and subtle flavors. ¡Ojo! This isn’t your run of the mill Torrontés—it is a steely wine with subdued floral and fruit aromas and flavors and good palate depth, due in part to partial aging (10%) in new French oak. Bodega Tapiz is a property of Fincas Patagónicas.
Bodega Tapiz NV Spirit of the Andes Sparkling Torrontés Mendoza ($16) 89 This sparkling Torrontés is a crowd pleaser. It offers lots of attractive fruit aromas and flavors, but at the same time it’s very dry with racy acidity, in contrast with other sparkling Torrontés that reveal high residual sugar. Spirit of the Andes wines come from the certified organic Las Uvas Vineyard in Tupungato in the Valle de Uco. This champenoise methode sparkling wine spends 12 months on the lees. It has high acidity (pH 3.2) and low residual sugar (0.5 g/l). Jean Claude Berrouet, formerly winemaker at Château Petrus, is consulting winemaker at Tapiz.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler