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Thursday, October 7, 2010

CarinaE Vinos Torrontés 2009

In a Shot:  The Mendoza Province puts out a fantastic 2009 Torrontés that exhibits flavors of honey, apricot, grass and minerals with a dry short finish.

Brigitte and Philippe Subra's CarinaE Vinos Torrontés, 2009 Mendoza Argentina
Everybody has their favorites.  I happen to have very many, so it's hard to just pick one of anything to call a true favorite for me when there is a time and a place for different things for very different reasons.  But easily one of my favorite whites right now is definitely the strong personality of the Torrontés grape variety.  A while ago, I was introduced to the Torrontés grape and fell in love with it's perfumey and very aromatic nose backed by it's complex and versatile palate ranging from stone fruits, to citrus peels, to spices and honey.  They're known for their versatile acidity levels, dryness and smooth textures.

A flagship grape of Argentina, Torrentés is shrouded in mystery behind how long it's been there or how it even got there, though stories do tell of it arriving with Spanish missionaries.  These large, pale loose bunched grapes love cooler climates with dry, windswept conditions and in Argentina there is no better place to meet the criteria than the arid Mendoza Province.  Found on the eastern side of the Andes continental mountain range, Mendoza's largest exports are olive oil and wine. 

Stock Picture of Calchaquies Valley.  Picture from

It's here in  Maipu, Mendoza where Brigitte and Philippe Subra retreated to from France, rebuilt a run down winery, purchased a few vineyards and created CarinaE Viñedos & Bodega.  Philippe has a raw passion for constellations.  All of the parcels of Carinae’s vineyards, the one surrounding the winery and the two in the prestigious Perdriel region of Lujan de Cuyo are named after different constellations.  The seals around all of his bottles are designed with astronomy maps.  Even the location he chose for CarinaE Viñedos in itself is of particular reference.  Every night in the open southern sky, looking down on their vineyards is a chain of constellations formally known as Argo Navis (The Ship). A symbol of many famous ships (Noah's Ark for example),  In 1763, the constellation was further dissected into three; Puppis (The Stern), Vela (The Sails) and Carina (The Keel).  This constellation runs through the milky way and has a star with a luminosity that is four million times brighter than the sun, a star that is on the astronomical verge of becoming a super nova named Eta Carinae.  It's this group of shining stars in which Vinos and Bodega is named after.  Producing their own grapes in vineyards where some of their vines are 85 years old, CarinaE produces many wines from Malbecs, Carbernet Sauvignon Blancs, Sryahs, Roses and even olive oil.  On their Reserva line up, however, they produce a wine using grapes from the Calchaquies Valley in Salta (known to be the region of regions to produce Torrentés in the world).  CarinaE's Torrentés has won a gold medal from the Mendoza Hyatt Wine Awards and also has earned 87 and 85 points from International Wine Cellar and Wine Spectator respectively.  Their website recommends enjoying CarinaE's 2009 Torrentés with some soft appetizers, some fish and seafood dishes though I enjoyed my bottle all by itself!

Upon opening the bottle I am encountered with a slightly oxidized pear colored wine.  The nose is slightly floral, presenting notes of earthy honey, tart apricots, over ripe white peaches, sea spray, brine and minerals.  There is a short lemony dry finish on the palate finishing mostly on the sides and roof of the mouth.  A refreshing and soft expression of a fine Torrontés.  It is recommended by me, Johnny Cocktail and please consider it next time you desire a nice social white.

James Kellaris, representative for Roanoke Valley Wine Company adds:  "First off, the wine has good structure and “real” exotic fruit aromas. My theory is that it’s because CarinaE is sourcing fruit from a vineyard up in Salta. Seems to be a much better area for white wine grapes. A lot of the Mendozan Torrontes seemed a bit flabby and the exotic aromas of the variety seemed disjointed and almost synthetic at times.  [Regarding Brigitte and Philippe Subra] - Great couple own the winery and I visited a couple years back. We really like selling their wines."


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