The 2019 Areyna Vallee de Cafayate Torrontes, awarded 91 points by James Suckling and 90 points by Descorchados, is one of the finest Torrontes we have ever tasted. Beautifully perfumed and sporting a snappy pale golden hue, one would be hard pressed to find a more sensuous white wine. A seductive aroma resplendent with the scents of pink grapefruit, lychee fruit, and rose petals beguiles the nose. Even better, the wine’s intoxicating fruit and floral scents re-emerge on the palate bolstered by fresh acidity and laser-like energy that truly tantalize the palate. Invigorating and wonderfully exotic, one could not ask any more of Aryena’s pure and delightfully seductive 2019 Vallee de Cafayate Torrontes. In fact, our tasting panel, to the member, found it irresistible and literally begged for more. Serve moderately chilled (40°-45° F). Enjoy!
Although the 2019 Areyna Vallee de Cafayate Torrontes provides tremendous flavor and enjoyment on its own, it also shines at table with a host of seafood dishes and much more. Curried shrimp, spicy stir fries, and even ceviche provide gratifying accompaniments to Areyna’s 2019 Torrontes. It seems the more difficult a dish is to pair with other wines, the more appealing and gratifying Areyna’s Torrontes becomes. Consequently, we suggest pairing the 2019 Areyna Vallee de Cafayate Torrontes with Chinese and Thai specialties as well as with vegetables such as asparagus, avocado, cucumber and eggplant. Crab cakes made with lump crabmeat, salmon, cucumber, and avocado, and topped with a light cream sauce provide winning complements to Areyna’s 2019 Vallee de Cafayate Torrontes. Shrimp Tempura, topped with slices of fresh mango and avocado, makes another tasty pairing. Shrimp Curry with snow peas, eggplant, and red pepper makes another compelling case to pair with this wine. And if Asian inspired dishes are not to your liking, Areyna’s Torrontes provides the ideal companion to Low Country Shrimp and Grits, simple salads, and most creole dishes, including chicken and seafood gumbos. It also provides a superb accompaniment to aged hard cheeses such as Gouda and Manchego.
Casarena, whose name is a creative merging of the Spanish words “casa” (house) and “arena” (sand) in tribute to the estate’s restored 1930s winery made of sand-colored stone and the sandy soil that their estate is built on, is a young boutique winery that enjoys a well-deserved reputation for producing wines of uncompromising quality at all levels of its portfolio. This month’s feature, the 2019 Areyna Vallee de Cafayate Torrontes, is Casarena’s newest release of the estate’s formidable Areyna Torrontes and another example of Casarena’s ability to craft exceptional white wine as well as red.
In a land of extremes and in a viticultural region known equally for oceans of cheap, hunky, one dimensional wines as well as expensive, complex, full-bodied masterpieces, Casarena shines as a beacon of quality and value. Situated in Mendoza’s premier viticultural areas of Agrelo and Lujan de Cuyo and drawing the finest fruit from established vineyards in Salta, Casarena’s ultimate goal is to become Argentina’s greatest vineyard project. Casarena utilizes the finest terroirs at differing elevations to produce world-class wines under the Areyna and Casarena labels.
Eno Rolland (renowned Bordeaux oenologist Michel Rolland’s team of consultants) consulted at Casarena at the very start, so not surprisingly Casarena’s definitive mantra is “less quantity, more quality.” Casarena sets high standards for its wines. It sells in bulk any juice that does not come up to its standards in order to maintain the consistency, quality and integrity of the wines it sells – a rarity in Argentina.
Casarena’s Areyna Torrontes hails from high elevations of Vallee de Cafayate in Salta, while the estate’s reds emanate from Mendoza. Each is a limited production, and for red wines only small batches of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Malbec with intense color and aromatics qualify as Estate Reserve or Single Vineyard offerings. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Malbec constitute the lion’s share of the estate’s production. Casarena also offers a very limited bottling of a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Owen’s Vineyard, a tiny high altitude plot that was planted in the 1930s, and whose vines average 85 years of age. An equally impressive single vineyard Malbec from Jamilla’s Vineyard also emanates from Casarena’s old estate vines.
Torrontés is unique to Argentina, and it has become over the centuries Argentina’s emblematic white grape variety. A genetic cross between two grape varieties brought to Argentina during the colonial period, Torrontés has only recently burst onto the international scene. The precise ancestors of Torrontés remain a bit uncertain, although it is believed to be a cross between Criolla, a mission varietal, and the Muscat of Alexandria, of which the latter may also go by the name Uva d’Italia. It is thought that Torrontés originated in Argentina’s Mendoza province, although Torrontés is now cultivated throughout Argentina. Several varieties or clones of Torrontés exist, which are commonly identified as Mendocino, Sanjuanino and Riojano. Riojano is widely acknowledged to produce the best Torrontés, while Cafayate Valley in Salta Province has built a reputation as the source of the finest Torrontés, and it is from Cafayate’s high elevation vineyards (which can reach altitudes of over 9,800 feet) that Torrontés derives its greatest intensity and purity.
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