2011 Tomero Torrontés
“Wisps of perfume, lilac, verbena, jasmine…finishing dry on notes of clove and chestnut.”
I try —though not always successfully—to avoid the curlicued, quasi-baroque descriptives when commenting on wine. Still, far too many reviewers—myself included, no doubt— fall over themselves reaching for the lofty oenological bon mot, one usually involving some kind of fruit, spice, smoke, tobacco…or whips and chains if need be. These ornate metaphors at times are seemingly picked out of the Exosphere.
All that restraint goes out the window with the Tomero 2011 Torrontés, the kind of wine that intoxicates the imagination on the first sip. Its nuanced perfume gives it an exotic allure, one which defies easy or cliched descriptions precisely because it—how can I say this— it “rainbows”, it seems to move and shift into different hues of flavour, as if a hologram were gently doing Tai Chi on the palate. And that “hologram” of scents and flavour hues indeed included, lilac, verbena, jasmine…ending on notes of clove and chestnut.
This Torrontés is a wine of almost haunting loveliness, the kind of wine I wish were on more wine lists; as it not only complements food, but also compels the imbiber to at least notice, if not think about what is in the glass. I see this kind of wine as adding immeasurably to the dining experience. (Bonus points: the Tomero Torrontés would pair up beautifully with any spicy cuisine—Thai, Mexican, et al —far better than any Chardonnay or Shiraz.) It is beautifully structured, with a supple body and ample fruit held in reign by firm acidity and a long, dry finish. (Oddly evocative of some Alsatian greats in structure.)
That said, it would be a disservice to the wine (and winemaker) to invoke similarities to other perfumed or spicy varietals, such as Träminer [nee, Gewürz] or Muscat. Such comparisons would set up expectations that are not relevant here. This Torrontés is much more refined than your average Muscat and it has far more heart and beauty than most any spicy Teutonic wine you are bound to encounter any time soon––or even most other Torrontés from its country of provenance, Argentina. Everything is in the glass, but yet, there remains an allure in the post-gusto, a delicate dance of veiled mystery. This sets up a kind of irresistible intrigue, ala, what does the next taste hold in store?
The next day, after an evening spent vacuum-sealed in the refrigerator, the Torrontés was in absolute full blossom, like an opened Tulip reaching out. Which it did.
—Raphael Antonio Nazario. Originally posted in a VinoVeracity post, 2012
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THE BACK STORY
Made by the same winery that makes the Tomero Malbec. I tasted it based on my response to the Malbec.
Recent DNA evidence disallowed the formerly held tenet that Torrontés in Argentina was an offspring of the same grape found in Spain. No such thing. The Spaniards did take the Mission grape and later others to South America, but plantings did not include their Torrontés. (Not so coincidentally, the Mission grape was also the first variety to be planted in a land that later became known as California. By sheer serendipitous coincidence, I long ago spent some time in what was once the dusty settlement of Cucamonga, where the first plantings of said varietal—or any wine grape in California— took root. There were indeed, a few vines planted here and there amongst a concrete suburban sprawl worthy of E.T.’s terrestrial neighborhood.
But back to Argentina, where the Mission grape at some point intermarried with Muscat of Alexandria and produced off spring…different varieties of Torrontés. Today it is Argentina’s most widely planted white grape variety.