2011 Coquena Torrontes Salta
Expert Rating
RP 91 points
(Read the full review below)
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Coquena Vineyards, Salta "Stretching the Envelope" and Parker's 91pt Torrontes

We'd like to take credit for this one, pat backs one more time, congratulating ourselves for the discovery of what most believe to be the most riveting aromatic white wine in Argentina. But today, we can't. This time all the credit goes to Robert Parker and his Wine Advocate.

Torrontes, Argentina's light, crisp, spicy white, has taken America by storm. Most that makes its way stateside is grown on the fertile flats of Mendoza, where growers farm for quantity, pushing out nearly ten tons per acre. And while we're more than content to knock back a few glasses of Mendoza Torrontes with a Panini at Tim's Café, those wines simply aren't sufficiently distinguished to grace WineAccess pages.

But on a tip from the two top critics on the planet, we made a detour on our last trip south of the border. We hopped the Aerolineas Argentina flight from Mendoza to Salta, then made our way to the high ground of Tolombon, nearly 6,000 feet in elevation. Once there, we saw what The Wine Advocate had already discovered, a small mountain vineyard that would eke out a miniscule crop of thick-skin Torrontes in the superb 2011 vintage. Those bunches would account for the most stunning aromatic Argentine white we've ever tasted.

It's Salta's viticultural pioneer, Arnaldo Etchart, who, with his sons, manages this mountain oasis. Working the vines by hand, farming for quality, not quantity, the Torrontes vineyard appears more manicured than farmed. In the long, cool 2011 growing season, where diurnal temperatures would swing nearly 50 degrees on summer days, the Etcharts would hand-harvest less than 3 tons per acre -- a yield more akin to Burgundy than the fertile soils of Mendoza. The result, as Parker and Tanzer were first to report, is a Torrontes of a different dimension and complexion.

Brilliant pale gold in color with luscious aromas of lemon zest and apricot. Clearly nursed, rather than rushed through fermentation, the attack is at once rich, spicy, round and dry, with excellent density, and fine mouth feel. The core is filled with a scintillating mix of apricot and citrus, with fine mineral lift. But up here at 6,000 feet, it's the finish that provides the fireworks -- lighting up the 2011 Coquena Torrontes with refined, chalky minerality.

Tasting Notes

2011 Coquena Torrontes Salta
"The 2011 Torrontes stretches the envelope of quality for this essentially indigenous variety. Fragrant aromas of lemon, tropical, and floral notes lead to a ripe, rich, vibrant style of Torrontes that will provide much pleasure over the next 12-18 months. It is an outstanding value."
91 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

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