“The soul of the land turns into wine.” Words the Caligiore Family live by.
For so long now Argentina has been producing many indigenous wines. By that I mean that the characteristics of wines produced here are typical of the region, of the tastes of the people. This wine is no exception and is a very fine addition to the Argentinian family.
Torrontes is a white grape variety grown throughout Argentina. Coming in three distinct varieties, it is part of the “Triplets,” which are so popular in that country but have also found a following in the United Kingdom and here in the States. Of the three varieties, Torrontes Riojano and Sanjuanino grow in loose bunches of tender grapes, while their cousin, Mendocino tends to grow in tighter bunches with a more of a yellow color. The history of this grape is kind of a mystery because it was sparsely planted until the late twentieth century when its popularity began to rise, and now it is the most widely planted white variety. According to most wine experts, the grape is pretty fickle and a challenge. It can produce a very high quality wine if, and this is a big ‘IF’ during the winemaking process adequate levels of acidity are maintained so the wine can be balanced. A less scrupulous process can, unfortunately produce a bitter tasting wine influenced more by alcohol than by the grape.
I purchased this wine from a small local merchant because, as is so often the case, the bottle looked like something I would buy. A simple, clean and neat label with an almost clear, see through product that just called out to me with a come hither look. Glad I took the chance on it.
Caligiore is a family owned winery dedicated to the production of organically grown and sustainable wines, grown 3000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains. Migrating to Argentina from Italy to escape the poverty of post WWI Italy, the founder, Gustavo Caligiore’s grandfather, began his career working in the vineyards around Mendoza. The family eventually purchased the land and farmed it with grapes being their primary crop which were then sold to wineries. In 2002, the family decided to produce their own wines to highlight the care they showed in their own viticulture. This is a very rare simple process. The family uses only indigenous yeasts with no stabilizing agents. All of the wines are unfiltered.
As it looked in the bottle, upon opening the wine gave way to a very pleasant aroma of peach and apricot. I do have to say though that I was expecting a far sweeter taste based on that, but gladly that was not the case. We did let it sit for about 20 minutes before pouring, another good decision because the aroma was strong enough to leave the bottle, yet light enough to be pleasing. Upon pouring the wine stayed clear and crisp with none of the cloudiness which sometimes accompanies such light wines. On the palate the wine delivers a clean, fresh taste as its appearance implies. Although it does appear to lean toward a pale greenish tinge. It is medium bodied, not as citrusy as one may expect but there are some very light notes of lemon. The taste leans more to fresh fruits with a nice infusion of grape, the basic ingredient.
A nice medium bodied wine like this deserves some imaginative pairing. So, we enjoyed it with grilled baby eggplant, marinated in some balsamic vinegar and spices. Have to admit, it worked out perfectly! It can also go well with some spicier dishes like paella, vegetarian meals or as an aperitif. It seems that as a white wine fish or poultry are a more natural pairing, but with this wine you can step outside the box a little and go bold. Whites can sometimes get lost with spice, but in this case it can go very well while expanding your own tastes.
Price – about $12
Alcohol – 13.5%
My own personal rating would be a strong 8 grapes out of an unattainable 10 which is very respectable. Remember, this is an organic wine, suitable for vegans. But as an organic it has to overcome any previous ideas or biases some may have. Most organic wines do not enjoy a higher rating, perhaps only because of the organic label. This one merits a try.