Argentina has been a revival ground for many funky grapes. Malbec was all but forgotten in France before it saw a renaissance in the Mendoza region. The grape is happier there, without the misery of Bordeaux’s unpredictable and often gloomy climate. To develop the fruit we’ve all come to know and love in malbec, the hot days, limited rainfall and well draining soils in Mendoza are just what the vineyard owner ordered.
And with this same terroir, Mendoza is doing it again, but this time with an esoteric Italian grape called Bonarda. Originally from the Piedmont region (home of Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara, where some Bonarda is blended in with the Nebbiolo grape), winemakers in Argentina are creating full-bodied, fruit-forward, new world-ish versions of Bonarda. It’s also one of the most widely planted grapes in that country… they simply weren’t sharing the wealth until recently. (Read more about Argentina’s wine industry here)
You’ve probably seen the Broquel Malbec on wine lists and on retailer shelves but this varietal can be a bit elusive. It’s as secondary brand of Trapiche (also listed on the label), a rather large exporter of Argentinean wines. Expect to see more and more of Broquel. About three years ago, they began a massive campaign to reach into your heart and wine budget.
And this wine surprised me like an unexpected kiss from Lady Gaga. Juicy and smooth meet dark and intense. Jammy with blackberry, ripe cherries, vanilla-infused tannins and a figgy finish. But not like fig newton, more like fig plucked off a tree in late September. It’s dry, elegant, black pepper spicy and smoky. And it’s not a big wine. It’s a HUGE wine. Many layers to savor and will still be drinking well in a few years too. Sw=1. $16. 4.5 stars (almost 5… it’s that good – ask your local retailer to order you some).
If you can’t find this Bonarda, try others from Tilia, Alamos, Crios and Zuccardi.