Undoubtedly, Torrontés is Argentina’s signature white variety and represents, along with Malbec, the country worldwide. This was confirmed by a report made by the Argentine Wine Observatory, which analyzed the variety from the vine to the shelf, for both domestic and foreign market during the 2004-2012 period.
Argentina is the only place where Torrontés is produced. There are three types: Riojano, Mendocino, and Sanjuanino. The first one is the most cultivated and which displays more aptitudes in the vivification, giving birth to dry wines, where fruit stands out.
The report reveals that Mendoza concentrates the largest cultivated area and production of Torrontés Riojano, but Cafayate, Salta is its best terroir. Actually, several local wineries are making and developing their projects there.
As regards production, the cultivated hectares experienced an interesting fluctuation: in 2004, Argentina had 7,900 ha grown with Torrontés. Then in 2010, this number reached a peak of 8,300 ha and, in 2012 it showed a slight downturn, ending the year with a surface of 7,800 ha.
Yields were variable and the highest production was reached in 2011, attaining 169.94 quintals harvested per cultivated hectare (6.88 t/acre); whereas, the lowest volume was registered in 2009, with 120.37 quintals of Torrontés per hectare (4.87 t/acre).
Mendoza accounts for 45% of the area cultivated with Torrontés Riojano and harvests 43% of the total production of the variety. For its part, La Rioja has 27% of the surface of the country and harvests 30% of the total of grapes.
The rest of the surface and crop is distributed among Salta (11% of surface and 11% of harvest), San Juan (10% of surface and 12% of harvest), and the rest of the wine provinces with 6% of cultivated area and 4% of the total crop.
Analyzing what happened last year, in Mendoza’s oases, the largest yield was registered in the Uco Valley, with more than 155 quintals harvested per hectare (6.27 t/acre), whereas the Southern region reported the lowest yields, 64 qq/ha (2.59 t/acre).
In terms of volume, the region with the largest production of Torrontés was the East, 227.000 quintals (22,700 tons).
From 2007 to 2012, domestic consumption of Torrontés accounted only for 1% of the overall wine consumption in the national market.
In Argentina, 58% of the Torrontés marketed during 2012 was concentrated on the range of ARS 10-20, while 13% for wines priced at ARS 20-30 and, on the bottom of the pyramid, 21% for lower priced wines within ARS 4-8 range.
The Wine Observatory’s report reveals that the evolution of Torrontés exports from 2008 to 2012 has been positive in terms of both liters and value. In the case of volume, exports surged by 48% (from 6.6 million liters in 2008, to over 9.8 million liters in 2012), whereas in FOB value, the growth was 96% (from USD 13.6 million in 2008 to USD 26.7 million in 2012).
Of the total turned over by Argentina, only 3% of the amount in dollars corresponded to Torrontés (6th in the ranking, behind Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Muscat of Alexandria).
By: G. Flores Bazán and F. Lancia