Bonarda: Revival and Recognition

A quick review of the present of this variety that is gaining followers around the world. The word of referents and a TOP5 Argentine Bonarda tasting. Come!



In Argentina, there is a typical phrase that says “no one remembers who came in second” and is used to refer to the importance of standing out or being the first in any activity one develops. Naturally, in the world of wine, that is foolish since we are all committed to getting diversity in our bottles.

However, Bonarda would be one of the candidates to get this position (you know which is the first one, right?), coincidentally the second most planted red grape in Argentina, which used to be (and usually is) underrated and even unworthy of being mentioned, for example, in the proportion of blends. In this article, we look forward to reclaiming the recognition of this variety and its virtues.

Originally the Argentina Bonarda was identified as Piemontese Bonarda since it was the Italian immigrants who came to the country at the beginning of the 19th century and introduced it along with other varieties.

Several studies initiated during the 1960s aiming to identify the variety that adapted very well in Argentina, concluded that the actual Bonarda Argentina is a derivation of the variety Corbeau Noir, which is native of the region of Savoy, France. In the United States, its analog variety corresponds to the so-called “Charbono”.

Argentine Bonarda genetic.

Argentine Bonarda genetic.

Bartolomé Robles is in charge of the Plan Bonarda, a project that promotes and disseminates the varietal in the productive zones of Argentina. He emphasizes that the role of the variety in forming first class blends, far from being something pejorative, is a great opportunity for its promotion and it is for the Argentinian wine in general. “The characteristics of the vine make wines with softer tannins, easy to drink and more friendly with the meals”, he says. We could agree that having this proposal within the Argentinian brand range is certainly interesting.

He adds: “It is also important to note that with Argentina’s volume, about 19,000 planted hectares, it is possible to ensure the compliance with the markets that demand stock, something that not all varieties could ensure”.

Among the first topics that VinoApp NOW crew considered to start the new channel was Argentine Bonarda’s present. Therefore we organized a tasting with the most recognized labels of the variety to obtain our own conclusions and contrast them with the main actor’s opinions.

The chosen ones:

  • Durigutti Reserva 2015
  • Laborum De Parcela Finca Santa María 2017
  • El Enemigo 2014
  • Emma Zuccardi 2016
  • Nicola Catena Parcela 2015
Héctor Durigutti, referent of Bonarda.

Héctor Durigutti, referent of Bonarda.

In general, all of them showed, to a greater or lesser extent, interesting balsamic, refreshing, green, vegetal notes; according to the producers, these variables are expressed by the grapevine in cold climates and with altitude. This way, we demolished the first myth which has always stated that Bonarda is a wine of volume, which only expresses fruit juice. Is this a possibility? Why not! In warm areas, such as the east of Mendoza, where production strives for big volume, it is a varietal that achieves a noble, direct, simple wine of great adoption for the Argentinean table.

Bonarda, warm VS cold zones.

Bonarda, warm VS cold zones.

However, what stands out here is its versatility and flexibility depending on what the producer looks for. In these samples that were part of the tasting, which are references of what the variety exports from Argentina to the world, we have found tremendous wines and with heterogeneous profiles. Also, of course, the fruity expression was a constant, as it is part of its DNA.

“It is a varietal that adapts very well to the different terroirs; for example in the warm zones it gives wines of lower concentration, less acidity and easier to drink; instead, in the cold zones it delivers more acidity, more tannins and greater aging potential”, ratifies Héctor Durigutti, winemaker of Durigutti Winemakers, from the province of Mendoza.

For Sebastián Zuccardi, chief winemaker at Zuccardi Wines (Mendoza), today there is a change in the areas where the variety is best adapted because he sustains that “although historically Bonarda was associated with warm areas, it is also true that it has a great flexibility to adapt to cooler areas, where it shows a profile dominated by the freshness of natural acidity, delicate aromas, and great elegance”.

Sebastián Zuccardi, among concrete eggs.

Sebastián Zuccardi, among concrete eggs.

In order to ensure that Bonarda is expressed at its highest quality, it is also important to manage the vineyard and the winery. We know that the concept of terroir implies the combination of various factors such as climate, soil, variety and man’s work.

And when it comes to terroir, it is interesting what is highlighted by Francisco ‘Paco’ Puga, winemaker of El Porvenir de Cafayate, Salta, who argues that “it is a variety that expresses a lot, with notes mostly to menthol in the area of the Argentine Northwest (NOA by its initials in Spanish)”. He adds, “We can talk about the Calchaquí valleys, where the sand that is found in the soils of the Finca Santa Maria is good because it makes it hard for it to mature adequately, even sometimes you have to wait for it to dehydrate 10% so that it has the correct maturity”. He also mentions that it is very common to co-ferment it with a proportion of Tannat to achieve structure, and also says that “despite being a variety of long cycle it develops very well in altitude“.

In the traditional areas of Eastern Mendoza, for Héctor Durigutti, “water and pruning are important factors to achieve the maximum potential“. The work in the winery for its high-end line involves cold maceration, higher fermentation temperatures and extra pumping over.

For two vintages now, Sebastián Zuccardi has worked with his wine Emma entirely with grape from the Uco Valley. There, they seek to achieve a balanced plant from the management of irrigation, pruning, and canopy. He highlights that “it is very important to avoid overmaturity, so we divide the plot by type of soil and look for the moment when we think it is right for each one as this is a key point to consider if we want to keep freshness and tension“.

The work in the winery consists of avoiding over-extraction and to ferment and store in concrete pools without epoxy because “from our point of view, Bonarda is extremely sensitive to wood“.

And all this work began to be fruitful due to the fact that recently the French publication Vitisphere qualified the Argentine Bonarda as one of the seven trends for 2019.

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#GoBonardaGo 🍇🇦🇷 'They are light, fluid wines…' Taste a Nicola Catena and then we talk. 💣 As we've been telling, Bonarda in Argentina has historically been a volume variety. In fact, this wine is a tribute to the namesake, passionate about Bonarda, who came to Argentina from Italy a century ago and gave the first step of what would later be Catena Zapata. However, high end Bonarda (definitely what we tasted) shows versatility, and in the case of this wine, it shows us a bit of opulence. Yes, opulence in Bonarda. Very fruity, black and red fruits, spicy, licorice, mint, balsamic notes. In the mouth it is plentiful, good structure and generous, present but silky tannins, great acidity that gives good freshness. Slightly jammy. A true North for the variety. . . More info about #Bonarda soon, stay tuned! #Argentinewine #Mendoza #CatenaZapata

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Durigutti is synonymous with Bonarda, given that they have been looking for quality in this varietal for 16 consecutive years. "Its versatility gives us the possibility to make drinkable wines all the time or wines to age, we can export #Bonarda and sell it by the glass or make a premium bottle and sell it in the best restaurants", says @hectordurigutti highlighting what we have been saying, the great versatility of the variety. . In this case, a Bonarda Reserva 2015 that shows a herbaceous, green profile, plus of course its red fruit. Fluency, verticality, but nerve and a mouthfeel that does not go unnoticed. Soon more details about this producer and this variety. #argentinianwine #Argentinewine #mendoza #winelover #winegeek

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#GoBonardaGo 🍇 🎙 "I've been making #Bonarda in the Calchaqui Valleys for years, but this one has a well-defined expression of height with an aromatic power that makes it different.", says @pacopuga1, winemaker of @elporvenirwines. Very close to get you bored of this but… versatility, again. 😂 That zone, those valleys, is considered one of the most uniques places in Argentina to make singular wines, specially because it produces wines with a strong seal of its terroir. Laborum Parcela Bonarda is proof of this: medium + body, red and black fruit, vegetable notes, cinnamon, secondary aromas like butter and cream, oak aging note because of its 12 months in barrels. Awesome and definitely surprising #bonarda! #Bonarda #argentina #argentinianwine #argentinewine #calchaqui #winelover

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#GoBonardaGo | Bonarda, a classic variety in Argentina, has changed and evolved significantly during the last decades, not only on its quality, if not about its role. But we will deepen on that topic soon 😉 . We made a tasting of some of the best exponents of this variety, and of course, Emma Zuccardi was there. A special wine for @szuccardi, winemaker, who honors his grandma (Emma) with this bonarda with "alike personalities": honest, direct, sensitive and delicate. . He aims to express sense of place and this variety's real potential. Lot of work in the vineyard to get this kind of grape, mainly from Altamira. Extraordinary wine up to us, expressive in the nose, earthy and mineral, juicy, round and complex on the palate, slightly salty, delicious! . #ucovalley #bonarda #argentinewine #altamira #winelover #winegeek

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It is clear that it is a player on the board of Argentine wines, it is up to you to find out. What do you think?




This was written by VinoApps´s team as a whole.

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