WHAT: I have loved wines from Argentina for more than 20 years, ever since I discovered great bargains on well-made cabs, merlots and malbecs. Of course, prices have risen as the United States discovered Argentine wines, but there are still bargains to be found, especially among white wines.
Torrontés has become the signature white wine of Argentina with its sophisticated and elegant flavors. I have never had a bad bottle of torrontés, though I am sure there are some out there.
The Trivento torrontés is one of the best, and the price can’t be beat.
In the glass, it is a bright golden yellow with lush floral and citrus aromas. The first sip reveals a crisp structure balanced by delicate tropical fruit and citrus flavors. The finish is fairly short but very pleasant.
Most wines in South America have strong European ties, but this torrontés seems to have developed in Argentina, probably sometime during the colonial period. (There is a torrontés made in Spain that is equally pleasant, but the grapes are genetically different.)
Like most wines, the quality of this one begins in the vineyards, located at high atltitude in the shadow of the Andes Mountains in the Mendoza area. Significant day-night temperature swings enhance the wine’s aromatic qualities.
Grapes are hand picked and placed in small cases. After crushing, a period of cold-skin contact follows. The juice is then fermented in stainless steel at 55-60 degrees for 20 days to preserve the grapes’ aromatics and flavor.
This fresh, floral aromatic wine is perfect for American tastes. Torrontés might not be that well-known, but I think once more drinkers discover it, sales will take off and prices likely will rise. So now is a good time to check out this varietal.
There actually are three torrontés varieties in Argentina: torrontés riojano, the most common, torrontés sanjuanino, and torrontés mendocino. Torrontés riojano receives most attention for the quality of its wines, and is the variety used for most Argentine wines simply labeled torrontés
Argentina is fifth in the world for wine production, and as quality continues to rise, so will sales. New wine techniques have been learned and sustaining farming is gaining a foothold. The resulting wines have been superb.
WINERY: Trivento Bodegas y Viñedos began in 1996, owned by famed Vina Concha y Toro. The Chilean wine company wanted to gain a foothold in Argentina and wanted to produce wines that preserve the character of the grapes created by the winds that sweep Argentina.
Trivento means three winds. Polar wines blow in from the south, cold and icy, bringing on the winter stages of the vineyards. This is when pruning begins. The Sudestada wind is the fresh breeze of summer. Cloudiness and the breeze keeps the grapes from baking in the hot, dry summer, and help in uniform ripening. Zonda winds descend from the Andes all year long, but hot and dry gusts in spring promote budding of the vines.
Trivento owns 3,185 acres in eight vineyards, one of the largest estates in Mendoza, Argentina’s premier wine region. Rainfall averages only eight inches a year, but spring snowmelt is channeled from the nearby Andes Mountains and brought to the vines via a drip irrigation that allows grapes to grow in the arid region.
The vineyards are in the Maipu, Tupungato and Rivadavia districts. The company also buys small amounts of fruit from growers under long-term contracts. The vineyards display a wide variety of soil, topography and microclimates.
Trivento produces a large number of wines under the Eolo, Golden Reserve, Amado Sur, Reserve and Brisa de Abril labels.
The Reserve line includes malbec, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, chardonnay and cabernet/malbec.
GOES WITH: We drank this with another midweek meal where ordinary food was made extraordinary by a wonderful wine. I warmed up a package of frozen Yakitori chicken with Japanese-style fried rice that is supposed to make a meal. But I added a couple of broiled chicken breasts that I cut up.
For a salad, we had celery, carrots, cucumbers and radishes. It was all good, but the wine really elevated the meal to another level.
Torrontés is one of my wife, Teri’s, favorite wines, so she especially enjoyed this pairing.
The crisp tropical and citrus fruit flavors in the wine were a good balance to the tangy soy sauce flavors in the rice and chicken. Sometimes only a sweeter wine will do with Asian food, but I thought this torrontés was an even better match.
The wine also would pair well with all kinds of seafood, grilled chicken, pork chops, pasta in a butter and garlic sauce and other spicy Asian food.