Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Wine for Beginners: Torrontés - "I like it a lot"

Photo: Jing (CCL)
Oh dear. Maybe I’m getting too big for my boots here, but I’ve gone and done it. I’ve only gone and written about wine. Before you judge me, I must admit I know very little about alcohol made from grapes (wine). When wine tasting I'm often like Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber; "I like it a lot".

Argentina is famed for its Malbec varietal; something that only really hit home for me on a recent visit to Gaucho’s City branch. Great Steak, incredibly good wine list, very empty pockets afterwards.

Like most grape-growing climates, they usually fare best at just a few grape varieties, such as Chile with their Sauvignon, Carmenère & Merlot, Marlborough with its Pinot Noir & Sauvignon, and, as Laura pointed out earlier this week, Rueda with its Verdejo. This got me thinking. With all the hype around Argentinean Malbec, what white wines do they produce, are they any good, and why do we generally not hear more about them?

Following a quick chat with the rep at my wholesale wine merchants, she informed me that they do make wine which is white, and that its from a grape pretty much totally unique to the Argentine climate, AND that it’s pretty damn good.

Torrontés grows exceptionally in sunny
-yet-cool, dry and high-altitude vineyards. It is categorized by its big-impact aromas - such as green melon and stone fruits like peach and apricot - and a crisp, lingering finish.

I picked up two bottles (naturally, in the interest of a fair and objective comparison), one from Waitrose; Tilimuqui Single Vineyard 2013 (£7.99) and one from Majestic; Viñalba Selección Torrontés 2013 (£10.99 or £9.34 if you buy two!) for sampling on a sunny, midweek evening. But it was raining. Lots of raining. So I drank indoors because a blog must be blogged (that’s dedication, readers!).

The Tilimuqui had aromas of lychee, grapefruit, a peach bellini & and a little rose; ticking all the boxes for me at this stage. It’s like a soft Viognier, but a lot lighter. The taste is crisp and light with plenty of orange citrus and some melon. It’s got a little more acidity than I like, but it’s got a refreshing, zingy spritz that cleanses the palate beautifully and makes you want more. Lots, lots more!

The Viñalba was lighter and fresher, with more characteristics of a Marlborough Sauvignon; which I found a little disappointing as I was looking for something different from a variety I hadn’t had the fortune of trying before. I still finished the bottle (obviously), but forgot to take a picture of it because I was a little bit sozzled.

I enjoyed the Tilimuqui with a King Prawn Goan Curry (which my chefs cooked beautifully may I add) and the wine matched this perfectly. It’d be great with any spicy Asian dish or fragrant curries, as well as with seafood or a salad.

So yes, people, Argentina do have white wines to shout about, and especially Torrontés, because it's basically unique to them. I can’t pronounce it, and I don’t really know anything about wine, but I gave this wine writing thing a go.

What I can say though is that if you like fresh, vibrant whites with some characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, then give Torrontés a go - its perfect for summer evenings with a spicy BBQ and a group of friends!

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