March 23, 2010
Fredric Koeppel | Special to The Memphis News
The Argentine Torrontes grape does not make great wine, but it makes wine capable of great charm and delight. Face it, we don’t always want to be knocked over the head by greatness. It would be like eating breakfast with Mount Rushmore every day. “Mornin’, Mr. Jefferson, mornin’ Mr. Roosevelt.” Sometimes you need a break. So take a break with the Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes 2009, from Argentina’s cool, dry northern Salta region, where the vineyards are some of the highest, elevation-wise, in the world.
The grape itself seems to be a hybrid of Muscat of Alexandria and the grape locally known as Criolla Chica, identical to California’s ubiquitous Mission grape.
The combination, made in a clean, fresh non-oaked style, makes for a penetrating floral element that we’ll call lilac and violet, and equally penetrating aromas of gooseberry, pear and roasted lemon. Citrus flavors and lime peel are flush with ginger and cloves and a touch of dried thyme bolstered by a beguiling texture of almost talc-like softness.
Charming and delightful, and because of its moderate spicy elements, the wine is well equipped to deal with moderately spicy cuisine, in our case Thai-spice encrusted scallops with red lentils.
For more about wine, check out Koeppel’s blog at http://www.biggerthanyourhead.net.