Oak-Aged White From Argentina’s Leading Lady
We’d expect nothing short of a groundbreaking wine from the former Catena Zapata winemaker Susana Balbo, who has created a 93-point “benchmark Torrontés” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Eschewing customary pure stainless steel for a three-month fermentation in used French oak, Balbo has a early success on her hands: The wood is “perfectly integrated," according to The Wine Advocate. "If you want to oak a Torrontés,” the Advocate opined, “this is the way to do it." British wine luminary Tim Atkin MW called it “A wine that transcends its grape variety." We call it a beautiful expression of Torrontes, elegantly floral, gorgeously textured, mouthwatering and incredibly versatile with an array of foods. Balbo’s 2014 Barrel-Fermented Torrontés weaves gorgeous vanilla bean notes in with the generous honeysuckle floral and saline qualities of Argentina’s flagship white grape. A complex and intriguing, richly aromatic white — and a steal at $19.99 per bottle.
Susana Balbo’s earliest aspirations were derailed when her very traditional family forbade her to leave their home in Mendoza and study nuclear physics in the mountain city of Bariloche. Defeated but undaunted, Susana entered the family viticulture business and asserted herself from within, busting down the door of Argentina’s boys’ club and rising in a wine world that had never known a female winemaker.
Balbo crafted wines for the country’s most venerable producers, including Michel Torino and Catena Zapata. Her founding of Susana Balbo Wines in 1999, although a career-defining achievement, did not mean that the she was finished innovating. Susana Balbo has been blazing trails her entire winemaking career, and the rest of us get to enjoy the result.