Had you ever heard of malbec before Argentina made the grape a household name? Well, torrontes is to Argentinian white wine what malbec is to red--it's not quite as popular, but it's gaining ground fast. While there is a grape by the same name that's indigenous to Spain, the Argentine version appears to be unrelated. Instead, it has been identified as a cross between mission and muscat of Alexandria, and like the latter, it produces very aromatic wine. There are a few hybrids of torrontes in Argentina, but you're unlikely to find that info on the label. No matter: they are all delicious.
2011 Recuerdo Torrontes, $15.99
Recuerdo is the brainchild of Napa Valley-based Blackbird Vineyards, made in Argentina at the Vines of Mendoza. It's a fragrant wine bursting with bright citrus and floral peach aromas. It's well structured, with ripe stone fruit and Asian pear flavors against crisp lemon and lime. The long, lively finish has a touch of mineral.
2012 Reunion Torrontes, $12.99
This wine is made by Bodega RJ Vinedos, from vineyards sustainably farmed by Raul Joffre and his four daughters. The nose is rich and complex, with perfumed layers of honeyed apricot, peach, apple cider and dusty rose. The palate is equally rich. You get ripe apple and stone fruit, along with sweet melon and citrus zest, the latter coming through on the supple finish.
2011 Valentin "V" Torrontes, $11.99
This classically styled, impeccably well-balanced Torrontes is the value-priced entry from Valentin Bianchi, a family-owned winery that has been in business since 1928. It's a well-integrated effort with subtle-but-lovely aromas of citrus, clover and spice, including a hint of white pepper. The flavors are lean and lively, with racy lime, blood orange and melon. Food-friendly acidity on the finish keeps things clean and refreshing.