Vista Flores Vineyard, Mendoza. Source: Familia Zuccardi
- Familia Zuccardi, Salta Province, Argentina, Serie A, Torrontés 2012
Generally when you think of Argentina and wine, you think of Malbec. But more recently you might have also added Torrontés to that list and if you haven’t you should definitely consider seeking out some and putting it to the test.
Torrontés is one of those grapes I came across a couple of years ago and always being keen to try something new I tracked down a few different expressions to sample. The result? I most definitely was not onboard with this grape! I found the wines to be overly perfumed smelling somewhere between my grandmother’s soap and Turkish delight – definitely not something I wanted to be drinking.
Fast forward a couple of years and having been told several times that I needed to reassess my view on Torrontés the perfect opportunity came along in the form of my WSET Diploma studies. Argentina was the subject of my studies a few weeks back and naturally Torrontés was on the list of recommended wines so I duly sourced a bottle from my local wine shop and rather dubiously added it to the line up.
The Torrontés on offer was from Familia Zuccardi. After arriving from Italy, the family first settled in Tucumán in northern Argentina before moving south to Mendoza where they established the winery in 1963. Today the family owns several vineyards in the Mendoza Province. What I find particularly interesting is the approach to winemaking taken by this producer; the focus is on showcasing the signature wines of Argentina and identifying the best sites to do this. For example, Sebastián Zuccardi who is currently working as the company’s winemaker, has invested significant time and effort into planting Malbec in different locations around the Uco Valley to research which sites yield the best expression of this grape. The Serie A range embodies this approach by showcasing wines from different regions in Argentina and the Torrontés in question is a part of this range.
The Serie A Torrontés is produced from white wine grapes grown in the Salta Province, the most northerly province in Argentina. Not only is this region recognised for producing high quality Torrontés, it also has some of the highest vineyards in the world. By planting at such heights the grapes are assured of a long ripening period and good acidity levels – typically Torrontés vines in this province are planted at around 1,600m above sea level. Argentina’s desert like conditions mean winemaking is only possible through the natural irrigation provided by the Andes and by planting at altitude to minimise the hot temperatures.
What I particularly enjoyed about this wine is the floral notes of jasmine and honeysuckle alongside fruit aromas of peach, apricot, apple and pear and this followed through on the palate with a succulent array of flavours including green apple, peach, fresh pineapple and passionfruit, jasmine flowers, a touch of rose petal and mouthwatering acidity of lemons and limes – not tart acidity but acidity that leaves you refreshed and rather looking forward to the next sip!
There are several varieties of this white wine grape but the variety that produces the best quality expression is Torrontés Riojano. While this particular variety only accounts for approximately 4% of plantings in Argentina the wines show a heady perfume and a tasty range of fresh fruit flavours as shown in the expression I tasted from Familia Zuccardi, and not a whiff of my grandmother’s soap to be found – a good thing in my book!
Johnson, H. & Robinson, J. (2007). The World Atlas of Wine. Great Britain: Mitchell Beazley.
Robinson, J. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine. Great Britain: Oxford University Press.