They call it Dolce Nero in Italy, Charbono in California and Corbeau Noir in the Savoy region of France.
With so many different names, ongoing debate over its European origins, and a less-than-lujoso introduction in Argentina, sommelier and wine author Rodrigo Griguela attempts to set the record straight on the grape known locally as Bonarda. It’s a much-needed analysis considering Bonarda is now the second most produced varietal in Argentina after Malbec.
The journey began at the end of the 19th century when Italian immigrants first brought Bonarda to Mendoza. Planting was modest and Bonarda only accounted for about 15,000 acres by the mid-1930’s, but production ramped up dramatically in the 1960’s in a quest for quantity over quality.
That Bonarda growers were able to achieve high production is testament to Argentina’s climate and soil conditions, writes Griguela, because Bonarda requires lots of sunlight, has a lengthy vegetation cycle and often doesn’t reach the right maturity level in large-scale production.
Unlike the early days of mass production, today’s Argentina wineries are putting the emphasis back on quality over quantity with Bonarda, and the result has been several Premium and Super Premium wines that are gaining fans in the U.S., Brazil and England among other countries.
Griguela says Nieto Senetiner and Zuccardi were the pioneers who truly believed in Bonarda, a wine he describes as floral with fresh red fruit notes, velvety tanins and a freshness that gives it a unique acidity. In addition to the two aforementioned wines, Griguela gives high marks to three other Bonardas: 2008 Colonia Las Liebres, 2008 Alma 4 and 2006 Mora Negra. (Full Article in Spanish)
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