Thursday, November 29, 2007

Santa Isabel Torrontés 2006

Santa Isabel
Mendoza White Wine (Argentina)
Price: $7.99 (sale, normally $9.99)
ABV: 12.5%

I opened this wine on Thanksgiving day so my sister could cook with it (yay for pumpkin pear ginger soup). The nose was delightful, but it tasted quite blah. The disparity between the fruity aromas and the really bland taste was pretty weird. I'd never had a wine that tasted so poorly after such a promising nose!

Last night, 6 days later after the initial tasting, Karl and I decided to give the wine another test before I designated it to the cooking-wine shelf.

Surprisingly, the nose had not changed much, but the taste (in my opinion, anyway) improved by leaps and bounds! No longer bland, the flavors (though still strangely distinct from the nose) really opened up and developed with time.

The color of this wine is very pale gold, almost greenish, but very clear in the center of the glass. The description on the bottle calls it bright yellow, which is not true at all.

The nose is sort of mysterious. It smells really sweet. Karl compared the nose to a botrytis dessert wine that he had during the Thanksgiving break: sweet, with a veiled musty-ness. I didn't really smell any must. I got some leechi fruit scents, some honeydew melon and maybe some not-very-tart apples (like Pink Lady or Ambrosia apples). I didn't get a lot of alcohol on the nose, which was nice.

Like I said, this wine's taste is so different from its nose that it's a little off-putting. Thought it smells really sweet, it's quite dry: there is literally not residual sugar at all coming through. I actually was fooled by the nose and thought the wine was "off-dry," but Karl corrected me.

On the attack, for a few seconds, there is a burst of really tart, sour, white grapefruit. The finish is a little bitter, like lemon pith (not the zest, but the white parts). It sort of reminds me of some very hoppy but not too dry India Pale Ales that I've had, but without the acidic zing that effervesces in your mouth due to the carbonation of the beer. I suppose that might be a grassyness akin to hops that I tasted. Right at the end, I think there may be a tiny hint of jasmine, which the bottle's description also touts as a feature of the wine. It tastes a bit like jasmine tea that has been brewed too long and has started to get that tannic bitterness.

Karl didn't really like it to drink alone. I enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't want to drink more than a half-glass of it since it's so intense. I agree that it probably needs some food to really bring out its potential, but I couldn't think of any food pairing off the top of my head that would be good, so I probably won't buy it again except maybe to cook with since it's pretty cheap.

A fun wine to taste since it's not your typical fruity wine. Experimenting is the key to learning what you like, so don't be afraid to try new things, even if you think you'll hate it! Karl and I were lamenting that we need to expand our palates so that we are better able to pinpoint what we're smelling and tasting in wines (and beers, too!), and the only way to do that is to try new things (and to think about what you're tasting and smelling while you're doing it). I'm definitely planning to do more of that in the future.

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