Wine review: Tamarí Torrontés Reserva 2009

Torrontes is a difficult grape to work with. When it’s done well, it produces a low alcohol and fruity white wine with character that can be pleasantly and slightly sweet. When torrontes isn’t done well, and I see entirely too many examples of that, it’s high in alcohol and entirely too sweet. Think white zinfandel that pretends to be something other than white zinfandel.

One reason for the discrepancies is that torrontes is grown almost exclusively in Argentina, and winemakers, I think, are still trying to figure out how the grape works in the country’s high altitude vineyards. There is also apparently a shortage of torrontes vines, so winemakers have to make wine with what they have, regardless of the quality of the grapes.

The Tamari (about $15, sample, available at Central Market) fits firmly into the done well category. It’s varietally correct with stoniness, a pretty floral aroma, peachy fruit, and that hint of sweetness. It isn’t flabby at all, as so many poorly made versions are. Drink this chilled on its own, or with any summer-style foods — and yes, it’s a good match with spicy dishes as well.


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