Torrontés, the new Pinot Grigio?

april 06 2011


Argentina has long promoted Malbec as its ace in the pack grape variety, and there is no doubting their success in doing so. As a celebrity couple, Malbec gets far more column inches since teaming up with Argentina than it did with its old beau, Cahors in Southwest France.


But Argentina also has its own home-grown talent, in the shape of Torrontés. The only grape considered indigenous to Argentina, Torrontés is by far their most planted white variety, with 8,106 hectares being crushed for the 2006 vintage, as opposed to 5,155 ha of closest rival, Chardonnay.


Pulling the cork on a Torrontés can be like opening a bottle of Eau de Cologne: there is a Muscat-like exuberance, with heady floral and herbal notes. But as aromatically intriguing as it is, Torrontés has often failed to deliver on the palate, with a rather dull and sometimes flabby character.


On a recent visit to Argentina I was struck by the improved quality of the Torrontés that I tasted. Today’s wines seem to have a much crisper texture, and the flavours to please fans of elegant, medium-weight whites. So, as Pinot Grigio has done in recent year, could Torrontés sweep all before it?


Some see that aromatic flamboyance as a potential barrier: “I suspect Torrontés may be a little idiosyncratic to really hit the mainstream,” says Matt Pym, Buyer at Majestic. Nick Butler, Wine Director at importers Bottle Green, agrees: “Its flavour profile puts it outside the ‘main’ consumer taste bracket.”



But others beg to differ. Des Cross of retailer Las Bodegas says “Sales of Torrontés have skyrocketed. I believe it is one of the Argentine whites that will make a big mark over the next few years.” Some of Argentina’s winemakers see potential too: “Without any doubt,” says Susana Balbo of Dominio del Plata. “We just need to awake consumers, and to find more importers ready to take the challenge.”



There are two main areas for the production of Torrontes: one is around Salta in the Northwest, and the other is in the hotter Mendoza region, 600 miles to the south. Salta produces wines that are less flamboyant, but tend to be more crisp, whilst those from Mendoza are intense and ‘bigger’ wines. Nick Butler likens the former to a “Riesling style,” and it is that style – emphasising crispness – that producers in both regions are pursuing.


The most positive impact on Torrontés has been through the reduction of yields, from 20,000 kilograms per hectare to around 10,000 kg/ha.


Like others, winemaker Rodolfo Griguol of the La Riojana co-operative has been making changes to both viticulture and oenology, including systematically targeting plots to pick at different levels of ripeness. But Griguol’s work with yeasts is also helping make Torrontés an exciting commercial prospect.


In Marlborough, New Zealand, it is not just the terroir that marks Sauvignon Blanc so decisively: the yeasts used in vinification are crucial to enhancing the aromatics and texture of the wines. Griguol has identified a house yeast strain – LRV94/5 – that enhances the elegant characteristic of Torrontés. It is now in commercial production.


Most of the Torrontés on UK shelves is priced between £4.99 and £6.99, but I asked the winemakers if an ‘icon Torrontés’ could ever be made. “It is possible to make an ultra premium wine,” says Fabian Miranda of Michel Torino, “especially with grapes that comes from old vines, which are very well balanced and aromatic. When we put a little bit of the wine in barrels we can add finesse and elegance to this wine, as we did with our Don David cuvée.”


Laurie Webster, Sales & Marketing Director of UK importer Vinoceros Ltd., adds: “Not only possible but very much on the cards; without giving too much away, we are very close to securing a listing for Quara Reserva Torrontés with one of the big UK multiple grocers. It is likely to retail at £9.99 – and at this point I would be happy to describe a ten quid Torrontés as ultra-premium. This listing clearly requires a bit of a leap of faith from the buying team involved (let alone consumers), but I am looking forward to taking my hat off to them when the time comes.”


So does Torrontés have Pinot Grigio-like consumer potential? Well, there are two pointers in its favour: one is its appeal to the female drinker. Des Cross says the Torrontés consumer is “overwhelmingly female, with a slight tendency to younger women.” The other is its trendy food appeal, with Susan Balbo (pictured right) citing “seafood, Chinese and Asian fusion food,” as its best matches, and Fabian Miranda adding “Torrontés give’s its best with food like shrimps, spicy food and ethnic food (Asian, Mexican). It also matches perfectly the unique Empanadas from Salta.”


James Forbes, UK Director of Wines of Argentina, is a self-confessed convert to the variety. As he so aptly sums it up: “Five years ago I’d have said it was very unlikely that Torrontés could be a big commercial hit, but the transformation from ugly duckling to swan is amazing.”






dry Torrontés


Viñedos de la Posada, Fairtrade Torrontés 2006

From the Famatina Valley in the North, relatively subdued, musky aromatics but a palate brimming with crisp apple and peachy fruit and vibrant acidity. £4.99, NISA Today, EH Booths.


Norton, Torrontes 2006

Floral, herbal, and quite flamboyant aromatics, with nice leafy fruit. The palate has a nicely sour edge of granny smith apples. It is tangy and lively, with crisp lemony notes. Very nice aperitif wine. £4.99, Oddbins.


Michel Torino, Torrontés Collecion 2006

From Salta, a really honeyed quality with ripe nectarine and pineapple and just a touch of that floral Torrontés perfume. Mouth-filling, limpid, with herb-tinged crunchy apple and citrus fruit. RRP £5.49, Hallgarten.


Urban Eco, Torrontés 2006

From Cafayate in the north, crisp, herbal nose, with a touch of elderflower. Weighty palate, but decisive acidity. £5.99, Great Grog, Tate Smith, Theatre of Wine, Cuckoo Wines, Coe of Ilford, The Winehouse, Butlers Wine.


Conquista, Torrontés 2006

Flamboyant, floral and exotic fruit character. The palate it has ripe melon and star-fruit flavours, some dried apricot and honeyed richness, but good acidity. £5.99, Crush Wines, Wiltshire.


La Riojana, Traidcraft Torrontés 2006

Traidcraft growers receive 25%-35% more money for their grapes. Delightfully aromatic, perfumed nose, with zesty citrus and a touch of nutmeg. Citrussy, with orange and lemon fruit and nimble acidity. £67.70 X 12, Traidcraft.


La Chamiza, Polo Amateur Torrontés 2006

Fine, verdant, herb and spearminty aromatics over some floral notes and citrus fruit. Plenty of fruit, with a punchy, vibrant character, and tad of residual sugar adding softness. £5.95, Jascots, Heritage Wines, Rodney Densem.


Viento Sur, Torrontés 2006

An Argentinean operation run by the giant Freixenet of Spain. Fruit from Cafayate, intense aroma of melon skins, spice and flowers, with a hint of sweetness before citrus acidity. RRP £5.99, Freixenet.


Torino, Michel Cuma Organic Torrontés 2006

Elegant nose of quite delicate lemon fruit, with little notes of jasmine and tangerine. A powerful wine, with a pithy, lemon and grapefruit dryness. Nuances of a riper,more peachy fruit before acidity kicks in. £5.99 Hallgarten.


Bodega Esmeralda, Argento Reserva Torrontés 2006

Pungent and aromatic, with a hint of green bean and nettle, and floral and citrus edges. Honeyed glimpse of something sweet before quite powerful grapefruit and a skinny, grippy finish. £6.02, Bibendum, Hudsons, Magnum, MW Wines.


Michel Torino, Don David Torrontés Reserve 2006

Matured with a touch of oak barrel and has a delicate nectarine and floral fragrance, with hints of exotic Turkish delight and incense. Nicely-weighted wine, with really good, concentrated, intense fruit. £6.99, distributed by Hallgarten. £6.99


Fincas Patagónicas, Zolo Torrontés 2006

Using fruit from the Famatina Valley, this has a refined pear and nettle nose, with glimpses of exotic lychee. On the palate there is orangy tang and acidity, and some skin-contact grip. £6.99, Delibo Fine Wines


Fincas Patagónicas, Tapiz Torrontés 2006

Bright floral and peach aromas and an intense, vibrant palate with plenty of exotic, very ripe fruit and a pithy, almost aggressively dry streak of grapefruit acidity. Striking, but slightly aggressive. £7.99, Hispamerchants.


Crios de Susana Balbo, Torrontés 2006

Haunting nose, with a gentle suggestion of honey and spices, and a soft, peach down fruit quality. On the palate this is beautifully tempered, brimming with bright oranges and lemons fruit. Gorgeous stuff, and for me probably the best Torrontés in this line-up. £6.99,


Bodegas Etchart, Torrontés 2007

From the Cafayate Valley, fragrant, jasmine and delicate, blossom-scented wine, with a soft, downy background of peach skins. Lychee and pineapple notes, with verve and finesse. On-trade only.


Torrontés blends


Tesoro de los Andes, Torrontés Chardonnay 2006

From Nieto Senetiner in Mendoza, lightly honeyed with subdued white fruit aromas. On the palate there’s plenty of punchy orange fruit and cool, elegant acidity. £4.49, Noel Young, D Byrne, Chas Hennings.


Santa Rosa, Chenin Torrontés 2006

Some fear Torrontés will always dominate a blend, but this entry-level wine from Familia Zuccardi is successful with herb and apple aromas and real, mouth-watering juiciness. RRP £4.99, Alliance Wine.




Sainsbury’s So Organic Sauvignon Blanc Torrontés 2006

Made for Sainsbury’s by La Riojana, plenty of herbal, nettly character on the nose, and little nuances of spices and exotic fruits. On the palate some exotic nectarine and pineapple richness starts to build. £4.99.


Bodegas Etchart, Torrontés Chardonnay 2007

20% Chardonnay perhaps dulls the fragrance a little, but an attractive white flower edge to limpid, pear and apple fruit. A nice herbal streak runs through this wine, with a bit of mealy richness. On-trade only.


sweet Torrontés


Familia Zuccardi, Torrontés Tardio 2006

With 128 g/l sugar and only 8.5% ABV, delicate, with lemon zest, stone fruit flavours, and a touch quince jelly. £6.99 for 50cl, Cellar Door, Classic Wine Direct, Executive Wines, Imbibros, The Naked Grape, The Chimney House.


Bodegas Etchart, Torrontés Cosecha Tardia 2006

48 g/l of residual sugar, with a very exotic, alluring nose of lychee, mango and exotic fruit. Almost syrupy richness of sweet mango and ripe melon fruit fills the mouth, but enough acidity to balance. On trade only.




The wine shop in Angeles Philippines Clark Freeport Zone Pampanga as well as other wine shops, wine bars and wine outlets in Subic and Manila are wells stocked with interesting selections of many kinds of wine from various producers covering a wide range of prices.  Of particular interest to wine lovers is the depth of vintages of wine available at the wine shop, wine bars and other wine outlets of Yats Wine Cellars in Philippines.


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News and pertinent information about wine trade, wine appreciation, wine shops and outlets, wine and food pairing, wine making, viticulture, vintages, climate conditions affecting wine, new and revived wine regions etc can be found here in this section. Yats wine Cellars is much more than a Philippines wine supplier with a few wine shops, wine bars and wine outlets in Philippines where clients can buy good wines in Manila, Angeles City, Subic and Clark Philippines.  Yats Wine Cellars is also a rich source of information for the convenience of the growing community of wine lovers, wine connoisseurs and hobbyists in Philippines.   Wine lovers in Manila, Subic, Pampanga, Angeles City, Clark Philippines can enjoy fine vintage wines in any of Yats Wine Cellars wine shopping outlets, wine bars, nightlife spots, wine shops and wine restaurants.


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Wine lover’s choice – Yats Restaurant and Wine Bar – for the most impressive and practical wine list in the Philippines, over 2700 selections, enough to satisfy the most fastidious connoisseurs.  Wine lovers and gourmand foodies from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Korea and Malaysia dine at Yats Restaurant & Wine Bar when they visit Philippines and bring home some rare vintage wines too.


An excellent wine list is not just about 1st growth and cult Cabernet but a seemingly unending selection of affordable aged vintage wines that are not available anywhere else, not even in the best wine shops around town.  Yats Restaurant has just that.


Visitors to Clark Philippines and Angeles City no longer suffer from lack of choices for places to eat out or wine and dine.  Clark Philippines reviewed over 50 establishments and came up with three top choices in guide to best restaurant in Clark Freeport


Clark Philippines lists Top Three Restaurants in the Clark Freeport Zone and Angeles City areas of Philippines Pampanga province.  Clark Freeport is a bustling new cosmopolitan city complete with its own Clark International Airport.

Topping the list is the famous fine-dining Yats Restaurant and Wine Bar located inside Mimosa Leisure Estate of Philippines Clark Freeport.



This restaurant in Pampanga Philippines is highly recommended by food critics and frequent diners in Manila as a place to wine and dine in Angeles City Clark Freeport Zone.  Although it is a famous fine dining restaurant with an award winning 3000-line restaurant wine list, Yats Restaurant is also a popular restaurant for family with children.  Aside from French Mediterranean haute cuisine, this restaurant also serves healthy food and the best vegetarian cuisines in the Philippines.



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