Thursday, December 25, 2008

Two Torrontes - Tetra and Glass

On the left, the Tetra-Pak protected Yellow + Blue, on the right, something in a (deep breath), glass bottle (ooh!)

Today I look back on a week of tasting two different Torrontes, a varietal native to Argentina. The two contenders are a 2008 from Yellow + Blue, packaged in an environmentally-friendly Tetra Pak, and the 2007 Familia Zuccardi Santa Julia, made from organic grapes, and packaged in that old-school, enviromentally-evil container known as . . . glass.

The Santa Julia was purchased at Sam's, for about $9.00; this was purchased to give a comparison to the Yellow + Blue which came as a gift from K.C. Geen of GolinHarris.

Before reporting on the wines, a quick glimpse at the Torrontes grape and an overview into Tetra Pak packaging.

On the website, Susan Balbo of the Dominio del Plata Winery, wrote a mouth-watering description of the grape:

“Enticing aromas that are strikingly similar to Viognier, with hints of peach pit, flowers, and orange citrus fruit. On the
palate, it has a beautiful structure and acidity along with enticing fruit flavors that keep you coming back for another sip, and plenty of body for a wine that shows such delicate aromas and flavors. Fruity, floral and yet still quite dry, this wine has to be tasted to be believed. Best enjoyed in its youth either by itself, or as a wonderful partner with smoked meats, mild to medium-strong cheeses, and seafood. Great partner for spicy food and Thai as well."

You can read about Tetrapak at (where else?) The packaging consists of a combination of plastic and aluminum coated paperboard, and is frequently used for milk and juices. It can easily preserve such liquids for several months. The wine industry has been slow to adopt Tetra Pak, but it's light weight and lower cost than glass may make it more common in the future.

So, what about the wines? The Yellow + Blue's nose reminded me of peach, tangerine and pineapple, while the Santa Julia evoked grass and pineapple, but much more faintly. On the mouthfeel, the Yellow + Blue produced a sharper acidity than the Santa Julia, and more of an orange component versus the grapefruit of the Santa Julia.

Surprisingly, the freshness and lively fruit of the Yellow + Blue didn't fade until the fourth and final day of tasting, while the Santa Julia, even on the second day, started to lose some of that energy.

It's really a personal preference which wine you would enjoy more; if you are more into the orange and tangerine flavor, and a really sharp tangy flavor, go with the Yellow + Blue; if you prefer a little more body in your white wines, go with the Santa Julia.

Hopefully, other wineries will experiment with Tetrapak packaging; I tell many customers at The Night Thing that it's not the packaging that matters, it's what's inside the packaging!

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