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Grape varieties

Dreaming about Bonarda

April 1, 2011 | in News, Opinions

Patricio Tapia, a famous Chilean wine taster, was in Mendoza knowing a bit more about this grape variety that, little by little, is finding its place. In an article published in his page Vinorama, he gives some impressions.

Bonarda has traditionally grown in eastern regions of Mendoza, in low regions and desert, stretching into a stifling plain that ends, after almost a thousand kilometers, in the sea, in Buenos Aires. But before, a lot before, Bonarda grows in the environs of Mendoza. It is a grape variety with a long ripeness cycle and high Ph, which means that its acidity is low and its fruit freshness (its tension in the mouth) is not as nervous as one expects.

It may be more nervous depending on genetics or may be because in that part of France, climate is cooler –much cooler- than in the east of Mendoza. Therefore, we do not know what may happen with Bonarda towards the west, towards the mountains. Oh, yes! Of course, we know it because there are high plantations of Bonarda. At least, the Bonarda I have tasted from these regions are delicious, starting from the mythical Colonia Las Liebres 2002 that, if my notes of those days are not wrong, was made with grapes from the Uco Valley.

Bonarda has also a soft texture like cream and its color is generally intense, concentrated and with flavors of blackberries and spices. This is its trade-mark. It is possible that it does not last long in the bottle, but I really do not care, provided it may be consumed throughout the year.

My theory is the following one: What happens if there is “cru” Bonarda like gamay cru in Beaujolais, Morgón, Brouilly, Chiroubles? That would not be bad, would it? Bonarda from Gualtallary, Altamira or El Cepillo. It would be mad. Of course, that should be the last step. However, before that, we should experiment and, especially, play. That is what I am doing with Michelini himself, with a Bonarda from the Uco Valley that we have made with carbonic maceration in small tanks. The amount of kilos is what someone may drink throughout a year with friends (many friends) and enjoy. But, the rules we have set have been really clear. Classic carbonic maceration. None of yeasts, sulphurous –except for an extremely low amount when bottling- and that would be everything. So far, the result is spectacular, though the opinion, as you may see, does not come from far away. This is a juice of blackberries with precious acidity, because I do not believe in Bonarda’s sweetness and neither does Matías. Therefore, we have harvested Bonarda like a month before than everybody and the potential wine that may result would not has more than 11.5% alcohol, but with vibrant acidity that it is not written by definition in Bonarda’s dictionary in Argentina. The rest, the Cru Bonarda, will come with time. For the time being, I am doing this together with Matías, bothering a little and having a really good time.

In order to read the full article, please click here:

Translation: Ana Tagua

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