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The 2004 La Puerta Torrontes sports a gorgeous pale gold robe. Nonetheless, it is the first sniff of this beautiful wine that truly assures the imbiber of what is to follow. Assuredly, the 2004 La Puerta Torrontes is no ordinary, homogenized, run of the mill white wine; it is a noble Argentine Torrontes. Extremely aromatic in the nose, with the scents of mineral, rose petal, oriental spice, and exotic fruit, one would expect sweetness to follow, but therein lies one of this wine’s secrets. It starts out fruity in the nose, but it ends up bone dry on the palate. And the longer this La Puerta breathes, (yes, it is not only red wines that benefit from a little aeration, many white wines do as well), the drier and more interesting the wine becomes. In fact, there is a whole lot going on in this wine, so fasten your gustatory seat belt and hang for the ride; you will be glad you did.
The 2004 La Puerta Torrontes is no shy, self-effacing wallflower. It is an extroverted white wine that does fine on its own, but give it an audience and a host of accompaniments, and just count the ways it shines. We love Torrontes with simple, but very flavorful chicken or shrimp paella. We also recommend it with Asian stir-fries, even semi-hot Thai favorites like Gra Prao, or any ground chicken with basil and spicy pepper sauce combinations. Chinese take-out favorites like Moo Shoo, Hunan Chicken or Pork, or just a medley of Chinese vegetables in a garlic sauce, bring out the best in this wine. Sizzling chicken fajitas and more sophisticated Mexican favorites also pair nicely with the 2004 La Puerta Torrontes. This is one versatile wine, but given how much difficulty other more mundane white wines have pairing with spicy or otherwise imaginative fare, we heartily recommend the 2004 La Puerta Torrontes with flavorful foods. With that being said, we must confess that on occasion we also like to steal a few sips of this wine without food, just for the pure pleasure of it. Enjoy!
La Puerta is the intriguing story of three Argentine compadres, who share a passion for polo as well as fine wine – not a bad combination if you can manage it. Together, these three teammates have created one of the newest and most popular wineries in Argentina. Beginning with their first plantation of noble varieties in 1994 until their third and most successful vintage in 2004, these three musketeers have not missed a step. Each successive effort has admirably eclipsed its predecessor, and that is no mean feat. Enrique Liberman is the principal partner in Valle de la Puerta S.A. (the winery’s official name) and since its inception he has spared no expense in putting La Puerta on the wine world’s proverbial radar screen. He is joined by the brother of ex- president Menem and a fellow teammate in this state of the art venture that now boasts in excess of 750 acres. Presently, approximately 250 acres of this sprawling estate are devoted to premium grape varietals, while the rest of this property turns out some of Argentina’s finest olives and most succulent stone fruits, such as peaches and plums. In Spanish, La Puerta is translated literally as the word for door, but in the case of Valle de la Puerta, this premier vineyard and winery serve both as the door and gateway to the Andes Mountains, whose towering peaks rise well over 20,000 feet in front of the domain. Situated in the Famatina Valley, in the province of the La Rioja, La Puerta is far removed from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires as well as Argentina’s more renowned wine producing region of Mendoza. Here the beautiful Sierra Famatina and Sierra Velazco Mountains branch off the Andes to form the Famatina Valley and its unique microclimate. And apart from contributing a magnificent visual backdrop to the property, the handsome snowcapped mountains that surround La Puerta contribute magnificent water from melting snows along with perfectly drained soils. The outstanding soil of La Puerta has evolved from the glacial till that over millennia has washed from these mighty mountains. This constant action has raised the valley bed to nearly 3,500 feet above sea level, creating the ideal conditions for growing grapes. Moreover, La Puerta’s terroir (soil, climate, geographic situation, etc.) provides perfect ripening conditions for both red and white grapes. In Famatina the desert like conditions supply warm days and dry cold nights: whereby, there is little concern for mildew, rot, or insect infestations that routinely plague more humid winegrowing regions. At La Puerta, Torrontes and Shiraz are the primary wines as well as the estate’s premier varietals. Torrontes, a white grape, is Argentina’s flagship white varietal and a grape that Argentina now calls its own. Like Zinfandel in California, Torrontes originated in Europe, but through time, cloning, and success unparalleled anywhere else, Argentina now rightly claims Torrontes as a specialty and its own unique wine. Shiraz, of course, is more readily associated with the south of France (as Syrah) or Australia, but in the last decade Shiraz has become one of the world’s most sought after red wines, and recent plantings in Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and elsewhere have been enormously successful. Viva Torrontes, Shiraz y La Puerta!
Wine and cheese harbor a natural affinity for each other, but some wines seem more suited for individual cheeses than others. In our experience, Rhône style wines, especially those with a good dollop of Shiraz, nearly always seem to be enhanced by ripe soft and semi-hard cheeses. Not surprisingly, a firm highly flavored cheese like English Wensleydale offers ample evidence of the natural affinity the 2002 Vasse Felix Shiraz has for such cheeses. The creamy texture and full nutty flavors of Wensleydale accentuate the savory fruit of the wine, while complementing its structure. French Reblochon and Manchego from Spain account for two more equally noble partnerships. Curiously, Shiraz is also one of the easiest wines to pair with chocolate, especially dark truffles. For additional information on cheese and cheese pairings, consult www.cheesemonthclub.com. For more sinful chocolate delights, check out www.chocolatemonthclub.com and enjoy!
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