The term “shoulder season” is a familiar one to frequent travelers—it’s the point of the year that’s not quite high season, with its good weather and higher rates, and not quite low season, with its bargains and crowd-less accommodations.
Wine has a shoulder season, too, and we’re in it. It can be summed up like this: Last year at this time, a crocus was popping its head up next to a still-unmelted patch of snow on my driveway. What do we drink when it’s not quite winter and not quite spring?
As far as whites go, I’m liking Torrontés these days. This grape is an Argentinian specialty, and not really grown outside of South America. It reminds me of Viognier, a wine I’m a sucker for, in that it has a voluptuous, tropical quality to the fruit flavors when it’s made correctly. There’s something a little bit “fat” in them, as winos say.
It could be 60 degrees tomorrow, or it could be 30 degrees, so you can adjust by altering the temperature of the wine. Serving it colder may mute the flavors a bit, but it’s nice way to go in warmer weather. But the amplitude of these wines makes them satisfying even in that last winter storm is headed your way.
Bodega El Porvenir de Cafayate Laborum Torrontés ($16) goes all out for citrus tastes (Mandarin orange!) and flowery aromas, but balances it with refreshing acidity. It’s one of the best Torrontés bottlings I’ve had, and it makes me think of serving it alongside one of those white gazpachos with grapes.
I’m a fan of pretty much all the creations of Susana Balbo, who’s been called the First Lady of Argentinian wine, and that goes for Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés 2013 ($12). As opposed to the Laborum above, it’s unoaked, and it delivers peach flavors (a classic Torrontés move) as well as lime, with a savory strain that moderates the fruit and lengthens the experience of tasting it.
The best part? They’re good in sunshine or sleet.
Ted Loos is the Wine & Spirits Correspondent at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @LoosLips.