Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blue Blood, White Wine: The Count’s Torrontes

Count Patrick d'Aulan comes from wine. And money. And blue blood. He is the aristocratic owner Alta Vista Winery, but he is no newcomer. His family held the keys to the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne house for nearly a hundred years. In the late 1990s, the domaine was sold. As luck would have it - maybe it wasn’t luck at all - the Count had met Bordeaux winemaker Jean-Michel Arcaute. They began scouting for new wine lands to conquer, and after a little sniffing around, they arrived in Argentina. Salta, to be precise.

Salta is in the northern part of Argentina, a stone’s throw from Chile and Bolivia and not much farther to Uruguay. The vines from which the Torrontes grapes were taken are at an altitude of 5,400 feet, so it’s pretty special terroir. in fact, all the vineyards owned by Alta Vista reside at an altitude of at least 3,200 feet.

The 2013 Alta Vista Salta Torrontes received no malolactic fermentation, to enhance the wine’s fresh and vibrant character. Aging took place in steel for three months, then in the bottle for a similar span. In the tanks, the wine rested on its lees, or spent yeast cells, hence the full mouthfeel.

This Torrontes has a light golden tint and a nose that is simple, but effective. The aromas of white flowers and pear juice are concentrated and captivating. The palate shows a bit more variety, with a more mineral-driven set of flavors - limes, oranges and pineapple - in addition to the luscious pears and peaches in this fruit salad of a wine. The acidity is passable, but not really spectacular - great for sips and salads. Make it a fruit salad.