Christie Kiley on June 1, 2015 0 Comments It is just too hard to resist talking about all the white wines one can try as the warm weather keeps warming up. There is another delectable white wine to chill you off from the season’s heat: Torrontés. Many head straight to their Sauvignon Blancs during the hotter months and while it can be refreshing, it can sometimes make for a very monotonous choice. The world of wine is vast, try something different! What is Torrontés? Most people are not familiar with the Torrontés grape and perhaps there has been a previous review on this varietal from a different label a few months ago, but it is worth revisiting. The Torrontés grape, at least the one you find in Argentina, was once believed to have been brought over from Europe. There is a “Torrontés” grape in Spain used to make wine. However, the grape found in Argentina today is not DNA-related to the one in Spain. This one is believed to have been brought over by missionaries and vineyard workers from Chile long ago. In fact, Argentina is the only country in the entire world which produces wine from this grape and many oenophiles visit Argentina with one mission in mind: to drink and learn about Torrontés wine. Torrontés in Argentina Torrontés can be found growing in the famous wine-producing region of Mendoza and in their other region of Salta. Salta is located about 800 miles north of Mendoza. The two regions are arid and high mountain desert climates. The vineyards of Salta are just a bit higher in altitude. The vineyards of Mendoza sit around 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level, whereas some vineyards in Salta sit around 7,000 to 8,500 feet above sea level. These are the highest vineyards in the world (though Bolivia is close behind). The Torrontés of Mendoza makes good wine, but the Torrontés of Salta really showcases what this grape has to offer. As the vineyards sit within a closer proximity to the sun in this region, this allows the fruit to completely mutate. Wine grapes of all kinds adapt and morph to their environment in order to “survive” and resist harsh climates and terrain. It is one of the amazing things about this plant. The Torrontés grapes here have grown thicker skins to protect the fruit from burning and shriveling. This region has a maximum precipitation of only around 300mm per year, which creates smaller berries with higher phenolic compounds. These compounds are what contributes to a wine’s aroma, flavor and texture profile. The result is some pretty amazing stuff. Piatelli Vineyards The Piatelli vineyards of Salta are located in a region known as Calchaqui Valley, where they live at 7,000 feet above sea level. If any of you have gone skiing in Colorado, this would be about the base elevation of Beaver Creek near Vail, and just 800 feet short of Aspen’s altitude. The Calchaqui Valley is home to only 12,000 people and is a grand tourist region, mainly for wine, but for outdoor adventure seekers as well. In this climate, it is not only the harsh arid desert which makes for great wines of this region. The wide range of temperatures make for all the difference as well. Although this region is located very far north in the southern hemisphere, the altitude and the valleys here create a special microclimate ideal for the grapes. The temperatures stay relatively steady and warm enough for the grapes–only reaching to the mid-eighties. When the sun dips below the mountain ridges, the temperature drops a significant twenty to thirty degrees. This allows for slow and balanced maturation of the fruit. During the day, the vines are able to photosynthesize and make their food. During the evening, the cool temperatures allow them to eat their food. The warm temperatures during the day allow for the grapes to increase in sugar (potential alcohol) and the cool temperatures enable for acidity levels to stay in balance and for aromatic and flavor compounds to develop. About the 2013 Premium Piatelli Torrontés Now, on with the wine! The grapes for this wine were all hand-picked and hand-sorted. They come from fairly young, ten year-old vines of low yields. The pressed juices underwent a cold fermentation for a month, during which the lees were consistently stirred in order to give the wine a fuller texture and more complex aromatics. Following fermentation, twenty percent of the batch was placed in new French oak barrels, while the remainder rested in stainless steel vats. The result is an incredibly complex Torrontés wine. It is crisp with notes of clementine fruit on the nose with some honeysuckle. The taste brings forth white peaches, lemon curd, chamomile tea and Christmas pie spice and lingers with a touch of lemon cream pie. Try pairing this wine with grilled flounder or salmon. You could also pair it with your favorite Thai or stir-fry dish. It will pair amazingly with slow-cooked and spicy pork. Have a couple bottles of this in the chiller next to the beer to enjoy this summer.