I didn’t even finish reading the entire announcement which basically mentioned that Susana Balbo stands out as a female oenologist with incredible skills and experience in a country dominated by male winemakers. She too has probably produced wider variety of wines than any other winemaker in Argentina. She was also the first Argentinian winemaker hired outside her own country as consultant hence she has made wine in France, Spain, Chile, USA, Australia, South Africa and Italy. Yeah, those facts were omitted by me because it took me only one keyword to want to be there. The keyword was and will always be – Torrontés.
The first time I heard this indigenous white grape variety of Argentina was during a press lunch on the 1st of June 2013. Everyone was talking about Malbec, it has become a very common household name but what I brought home that day (as you can see from the photo), was a bottle of my very precious Crios Torrontés. I was supposed to write an article about how I love this grape variety but as a chronic procrastinator, I did what I do best. I procrastinated.
3 months later, I knew why I didn’t write what I was supposed to because I would be at the presence of the Queen of Torrontés who was personally giving a master class on Argentinian wines. What could beat that? Nothing!
Susana Balbo has been making wine for 33 years and yet she said, “Every year I’m doing new things and achieve better results.” What do you think can come out from a winemaker of such dedication? Great quality wine – guaranteed!
Susana loves to experiment. She created the Torrontés in 3 styles:
- Crios – a well-balanced and easy to drink with more weight in the palate. My absolute love!
- BenMarco – the next step in quality for Torrontés that has a resemblance to Viognier
- Susana Balbo Late Harvest – the sweetest of all
Torrontés produces fresh and aromatic wines with smooth texture and a pleasant aroma on the nose. However it was not the same 100 years ago as it was described to be nutty and due to its high content of pectin and protein, made it difficult to extract its juice and most of the time made this variety undrinkable. Susana managed to tap unto the knowledge she learned on fruit conservation and juice production, by introducing certain enzyme she revolutionized Torrontés. Even though the critics said Torrontés lost its identity due to this process but winemakers eventually followed her way. As a result, a cleaner and fruity style of Torrontés is produced.
Despite all the acclaims that she has gotten so far, Susana Balbo is still a very humble person. She taught us to see that there’s a beauty in each and every wine. If you don’t like it or give a bad rating to it, doesn’t mean the wine is bad. It simply means we haven’t seen its beauty yet.
I didn’t forget to ask her what her purpose of life is and her answer was simple “be happy” and never must you compare yourself with others. Compare, she doesn’t and hence she simply is the Queen of Torrontés. Thank you, Susana Balbo for your wisdom because you’re not only making wines but you are creating lives. Thank you, Sommelier Associations of Singapore – especially Indra Kumar, you made me feel like I have met the Oprah Winfrey of the wine industry. I will meet the real Oprah next time.
(Originally Published in TheLocalNose.com on the 28th of November 2013)