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Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Zuccardi Valles Torrontés 2019

A floral Torrontes from Argentina via Cambridge Wine

Zuccardi Valles Torrontés

Torrontes is pretty much unique to Argentina; it is a naturally-occurring crossing of two other grapes, Muscat of Alexandria (itself an ancient variety) and Mission, a grape introduced from Spain to the western coasts of the Americas by Catholic New World missionaries for their sacramental wines, also known as Criolla.

There are actually three different Torrontes grapes; Torrontés Riojano (the most common) as well as Torrontés Sanjuanino, and Torrontés Mendocino.

The grape does well in the cool, dry and windswept Salta region of northwest Argentina.

Its flavour profile is always floral and aromatic with high alcohol and low acidity. If you are looking for other grapes to compare it with, think Gewurztraminer or Muscat.

Is it Argentina's signature white grape? Argentina expert, Wink Lorch, argues that historically Chardonnay always produced the finest whites in Argentina and likely still does, but that Torrontes is the most original.

And it is this originality that makes Torrontes a love-it-or-loathe, Marmite type of wine; it is expressive, floral and strongly flavoured, full-bodied and waxy. This makes it something of a tricky food match, so drink as an aperitif or serve with rich, spiced Asian-style foods such as a coconut-based curry.

You can tame its exuberance by chilling it right down, but then you lose all that distinctive personality - which you may or may not consider a good thing. Wine educator and entertainer  Lee Isaacs, a firm supporter (but possibly a little biased), says "Everyone loves Torrontés. Fantastic variety."

If it's not your thing, you are not alone; here's what Master of Wine Rod Smith has to say:

Torrontes is truly an abhorrence of a wine. Straight from the anal glands of beelzebub, covered up with the perfume of toilet duck and old lady’s pot pourri. It tastes like throwing up after eating your body-weight in parma violets. Only not as nice as that sounds.

Zuccardi Valles Torrontés 2019 - Salta, Argentina (£14.25, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Ann et Vin, Red Bottle)  floral and aromatic with lychees and rose petals, ripe yellow stone fruits, orange peel, sweet spices and minerality. Weighty, yet deft and harmonious; very well-made; rounded and supple with good underpinnings.

Good.

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