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New World: Torrontés

It might have similar ‘understated’ issues to its aromatic cousin Gewurz, but Torrontés is quietly building a decent presence for itself in the Sommelier Wine Awards

To describe Torrontés as ‘polarising’ is a bit like saying that Genghis Khan had anger management issues. While some tasters are happy to wallow in the grape’s aromatics, others view it with the kind of enthusiasm that five-year-olds show for broccoli.

‘I’m not a fan of Torrontés, but I’m doing my best to be objective,’ said Soho Wine Supply’s Kyri Sotiri, through gritted teeth. Good man. That’s the kind of dedication we expect in our SWA judges!

Despite its reputation, Torrontés has, in fact, been on something of a roll since its underwhelming debut in 2010, which yielded just one medal. There were four last year, and another one this year, which also saw the variety’s first wine to pick up a place on the Gold List.

‘The Amalaya would work well By the Glass to introduce people to a new style of wine,’ said Galvin Restaurants’ Andrea Briccarello. ‘It’s a fresh, aromatic example and not too intense, and also a useful wine with aromatic dishes that include tropical fruit flavours such as mango.’

Criticism in the past has sometimes centred on the grape’s tendency towards a campness so outrageous that it would make Alan Carr blush. But in their attempt – metaphorically – to remove the gold lamé and sequins, winemakers sometimes strip the wine of too much of its personality.

‘I think Torrontés is all about varietal character. Here we have some good wines, but they’re not typical Torrontés,’ said consultant Richard Bampfield MW. ‘I was looking for a bit more personality.’

Conversely, Louise Gordon of The Rib Room found ‘one or two that had too much perfume and not enough fruit’.

All in all, then, a characteristically mixed performance from a grape that seems to be moving more or less in the right direction, but which remains far from being a must-list.

‘Generally it’s one of those varietal wines that people ask for when they’re lovers of wines,’ mused Joris Beijn of Andaz. ‘People do not run in and say “I’ll have a Torrontés”.’

‘There should be room for Torrontés on the list, but a more restrained style which can be a useful partner to food By the Glass.’ Andrea Bricarello, Galvin Restaurants