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raza cellar2Raza 2011 Dolce Torrontés ($8 at Sam's Club)  from La Riojana in Famatina Valley, Argentina: A Gem among the Double Gold Winners of the 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition

Tasting Panel Miami 2011 showcased the double gold winners of the 31st San Francisco International Wine Competition - one of the most important and comprehensive wine competitions in the world. A record number of judges – nationwide – had been invited to judge over 4,184 wines from over 1,200 wineries (including 392 new winery participants). They came up with 153 Double Gold awards (a wine is elevated to Double Gold status when all judges on a particular panel agree that a wine deserves a Gold medal1).  We got to taste most of them at Meat Market, on Lincoln Road, along with chef Sean Brasel’s tasty little plates.

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The most original and outstanding — a gem  in my opinion and that of many of my colleagues—  turned out to be the deliciously sparkling Raza 2011 Dolce Torrontés ($8 at Sam's Club)  from La Riojana in Famatina Valley, Argentina. Best in show Sparkling (over Perrier Jouet Champagne NV Rosé from France and Cook’s champagne Cellars NV Spumante from California).

This 100% Torrontés from La Rioja has all the characteristics of the varietal: crisp and refreshing, with green apple with delicate citrus and floral aromas on the palate, quite dry and creamy, delicately bubbly with a long, pleasant finish. 12.5 % vol

Torrontés from Salta, Argentina, has become of the icons of Argentine exports.  So this is the first time I had a Torrontés from La Rioja and the first time I had sparkling Torrontés. A welcome addition to the world of sparkling wines.

The winemaker, Dr. Rodolfo Griguol, is one of Argentina’s most respected winemakers, and has deservedly won the reputation of being the “King of Torrontés”. Rodolfo has worked for La Riojana for over 25 years and currently manages a team of seven winemakers. Amongst Rodolfo’s professional achievements:  the ecotopic yeast for production of Torrontés Riojano wine.