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Missionary position


Already the white wine of choice in its native Argentina, Torrontes looks ready to win America over as well.

Greg Horton April 6th, 2011

Argentine Torrontes is rapidly developing a reputation for excellence and affordability. James Laube, a fulltime wine critic for Wine Spectator magazine, said of a recent trip to Argentina that he could not locate a bad example of Torrontes.

“Quality is high across the board,” he wrote. “I have yet to find a bad one, nor a boring one.”

Another reason for its popularity is the high quality-to-price ratio. It’s rare to find a Torrontes for more than $15; many can be purchased for $10 or less. Argentina’s diverse topography makes for a variety of styles as well, ensuring a Torrontes for everyone’s taste.

The origin of the grape remains a mystery. Laube speculated that Torrontes was introduced to Argentina by Spanish missionaries, but because it’s not a noble varietal, he said little research has been done.

Its origins probably won’t trouble consumers who realize they can buy all their patio whites for spring and summer for less than $15 a bottle. And for those who care about environmental issues, one winery makes the world’s most green-friendly Torrontes.

above Megan Martinez holds Crios and Y + B Torrontes outside Freeman’s.

Yellow + Blue wines aren’t in the rack at your favorite store; they literally won’t fit. The winery uses a Tetra Pak, a container that looks like a large juice box. Clayton Bahr, a representative of Putnam Wines, which brokers Yellow + Blue, said the winery has done everything possible to reduce its carbon footprint, including the unique packaging.

“Yellow + Blue is made with handpicked, estate-grown, certified-organic grapes,” Bahr said. “They decided to go a step further and use the Tetra Pak, which drastically reduces the shipping weight and lowers fuel emissions. Combine that with their sustainability practices, and Yellow + Blue is the world’s greenest winery with a zerocarbon footprint.”

More good news: It’s also delicious, an excellent everyday drink — especially at the price, about $12.99 — but the Tetra Pak is a 1-liter container, so you’re getting an extra quarter-liter over the standard bottle. Widely available in the metro, the wine features moderate acidity, light minerality and apple and citrus flavors.

Susana Balbo, the first winemaker from Argentina to be hired to consult outside of the country, shows her skills in her Crios line, including the Crios Torrontes.

Rated 91 points and called “the prototype Torrontes,” by The Wine Advocate, Crios Torrontes delivers a fruity, refreshing wine in a dry style. Stone fruit, pear and citrus flavors combine with the distinctive Torrontes floral character to create wine that is patio-perfect and good with food. It’s available at Freeman Liquor Mart, 4401 N. Western, and The Wine Gallery, 12000 S. Western.

Colomé Torrontes comes from some of the world’s highest altitude vineyards, and the mountain fruit shows its great character here. Wine Spectator gave this one 88 points and made it a Daily Wine Pick.

Solid, stony minerality makes this one a little more flinty than other Torrontes, but the white peach, lime and grapefruit flavors ensure that it’s refreshing, not austere. It’s available at The Wine Gallery.

Callia Torrontes may be one of the summer’s best patio wines. This light, fruity Torrontes, available by the glass at Bolero Spanish Grill & Tapas Bar, 200 S. Oklahoma, is about $10 or less on store shelves. It paired well with light tapas, especially shrimp, but the melon, citrus and honey flavors make it a great candidate for an everyday sipper.

Pascual Toso has already gained familiarity in town for its delicious Malbec, and the Torrontes shows the same quality.

Called an “intriguing Torrontes” and given 89 points by notoriously conservative wine critic Stephen Tanzer, it features complex layers of citrus, tropical and orchard fruit, as well as good minerality, making it a solid food wine.

 
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