To the Argentine who says he has not tried Bonarda defy him: he probably did it without knowing it. The second most planted red grape in the country after Malbec – a total of 18,153 hectares in 2020 – is perhaps not as well known for its varietal wines, but it was widely used for the production of table wines in the 70s and 80s and today it is used even in high-end blends.
But, especially in the last decade, the 100% varietal Bonardas that Argentine wineries are producing well deserve to be recognized for themselves and not as good complements to a cut wine. Therefore, with the aim of making more consumers know about them, From August 2 to 8, Bonarda Week is celebrated for the first time.
The initiative, promoted by the Wine Fund, seeks to promote the variety through face-to-face and virtual activities throughout the country such as talks, courses, tastings and raffles. The agenda can be consulted at the IG @bonarda_argentina.
Argentina seeks to promote the consumption of Bonarda wine. Photo: Wine Fund.
How the Argentine Bonardas evolved and why you have to try them
Since the grapes came from the hand of European immigrants At the end of the 19th century, it spread especially in the Cuyo area, but its origin was not so clear. For a long time it was believed that it came from the Italian Piedmont and only in 2008 a genetic analysis determined that it was the Corbeau-Douce Noire, born in the area of the French Alps.
Although technicalities are the subject of winemakers and agronomists, research and scientific studies are what have allowed the great leap in quality of the Argentine wines of the XXI century, and the Bonarda was no exception.
Bonarda grape clusters.
This is how Roberto González, from the Nieto Senetiner Winery, one of the pioneers and specialists in the vine, tells it: “Twenty years ago there was nothing written about the techniques of making BonardaI had to develop them and learn harvest after harvest and even teach. “The experience paid off: it allowed her to elevate the variety to another category and win international awards.
The brothers Pablo and Héctor Durigutti, originally from eastern Mendoza, which concentrates most of the production of this grape, produce four different labels of the varietal, which export to countries like the United States (where they know it as Charbono), United Kingdom, Brazil and Puerto Rico. “We believe that the Bonarda has even more potential, it can be planted even in Jujuy“, assures Héctor.
When it comes to choosing and uncorking a Bonarda, the possibilities are many. Sommelier Alejandro Martínez highlights its versatility: from young wines to those for aging or with aging potential, depending on the occasion. “Very drinkable, juicy, very good colored, fruity wines from the Malbec aromatic family, although with weaker alcohols, around 13.5% average, “he observes.
Bonardas of different range and styles to know
-Alambrado Bonarda 2019 – Bodega Santa Julia (Mendoza)
A Bonarda from Valle de Uco, for the winery’s high-end line. Average price in wine bars: $ 500.
Mara Bonarda 2019.
-Mara Bonarda 2019 – Bodega Mara (Mendoza)
Mara is one of Ernesto Catena Vineyards’ projects in La Consulta, San Carlos. 8 months of aging in French and American oak barrels for a complex and intense Bonarda. Price: $ 1,050.
Worker Bee Stinger, Bonarda de Catamarca.
-Worker Bee Sting – Durigutti Wines (Catamarca)
Made with grapes from a vineyard planted in 1938 in Fiambalá. Aged for seven months in French oak. Price: $ 710.
Goodness Small Fermentations – El Porvenir.
-Bonarda Small Fermentations – El Porvenir Winery (Salta)
Made in Valle de Cafayate, from a micro vinification project that produces only 3,400 bottles. A fresh wine to enjoy alone or with meals. Price: $ 2,300.
Paz Bonarda, from Finca Las Moras.
-Paz Bonarda – Finca Las Moras (San Juan)
Made with grapes from the Tulum Valley, 650 m. Aged in barrels for 15 months, it has a potential aging of 4 years. Price: $ 682.
-Bonarda Limited Game 2018 – Nieto Senetiner
The Bonarda icon of the winery that took the variety to the highest category. Made with grapes from a vineyard in Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, at 1,050 meters above sea level, aged in oak for 12 months and aged in bottle for 6 months. Price: $ 3,165.