Wine Profile: Torrontes
Torrontés is Argentina’s most widely planted white grape. Along with Malbec, it is considered one of the staple grapes of that country. In fact, Argentina is one of the only places Torrontés is planted. But, just because it isn’t a widely planted grape, you’re still gonna want to learn about it.
Torrontés is actually a group of three different varieties: Torrontés Riojano, Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino. Of the three Torrontés, Riojano is the most popular and refined. It grows mainly in the northern mountainous region of Argentina. Here, the grape is rarely blended with any other varietals and when it is done it is typically blended with Chardonnay. Though, that is mostly done for producers that are planning to export their wines to the United States.
KNOW WHERE IT’S AT
Outside of Argentina, there is very little Torrontés planted anywhere else in the world. There is a small amount planted in neighboring Chile, but those grapes are grown mainly for quantity over quality. In fact, they are rarely actually made into wine and are instead used in the production of Chilean Pisco.
BOUQUET AND BALANCE
Torrontés is a highly aromatic dry white wine. It is intensely perfumed with floral aromas of plumeria and rose petals as well as notes of tropical fruit. On the palate, you’ll find flavors of ripe white peaches and zesty citrus notes. While the wine often smells strong and like it might be on the sweeter side, it is often a very dry wine, typically with a pop of salinity on the finish that provides a great juxtaposition to its perfumed aromas.
TRICKY BUT WORTH IT
When it comes to food pairing though Torrontés can actually be a little tricky. Much like Gewurztraminer, you need to walk a fine line. The wine can easily overwhelm or dominate the food with its bold flavors. But, if you pick the wrong food, you can also lose all the beautiful fruit and floral notes in the wine. Torrontés pairs really well with sweet and sour dishes, these foods complement the sweet and sour notes in the wine with its big fruity aromas and lean salty finish. Think things like Chinese sweet and sour pork, or short ribs with a fruity balsamic vinegar glaze.
Along those same lines, Torrontés can pair well with dishes that have a combination of fruit and sweet spice (not too spicy though). Things like a fruit-based barbecue sauce, mango chutney, or a Chinese plum sauce. In fact, it is great with a wide variety of Asian dishes, think Vietnamese or Indonesian food.
What it isn’t going to work with is any dish that’s too sweet or spicy- the interplay of the two needs to be in balance. It also won’t work with anything that has heavy charring or blackening. And most importantly, it’s not going to work with anything that’s too subtle because the intensity of the wine is going to completely overpower the food.