Many know that Malbec is a famous varietal in Argentina but fewer know that the Bonarda varietal is actually the most widely planted grape in Argentina. And it has only been recently exported out of Argentina.
The origins and nature of Bonarda are a bit controversial. Some feel it originated in Italy but there are actually three different Bondarda types in Italy, and it is unsure whether Argentina Bonarda is the same or not. Some also think Bonarda may be the California Charbono.
Bonarda is a new varietal for me and I have been trying a few different wines that I have been able to locate.
I first tried the 2004 Alamos Bonarda ($9). It was an interesting wine, with dark fruits on the palate and a more rustic and tannic finish. It did remind me of some Chiantis. It was smooth until the finish though the finish was not such an abrupt departure. I liked it and thought it was a good value.
I next tried the 2004 Las Moras, Bonarda ($9). This was a light wine, with a smooth taste, some cherry and vanilla flavors and a smoother finish than the other Bonarda. It was an excellent wine, enjoyed by everyone who had some with me. A nice tasting wine that possesses its own distinctive flavor.
I moved on to the 2005 Altos Las Hormias Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda ($10). This wine was somewhere between the Alamos and the Las Moras. It had more tannins and rustic flavor than the Las Moras but not as much as the Alamos. It had some nice fruit flavors without overwhelming you in the typical fruit bomb. It is an easy drinking wine and does remind me a bit of a Chianti, yet with its own distinctiveness.
Overall, my experimentation of the Bonarda varietal from Argentina has gone quite well. The wines are inexpensive, easy drinking, and with their own unique flavor. Though Malbec may currently be the most popular varietal of Argentina, I feel that Bonarda might come into its own and eventually give Malbec a run for its money. I strongly recommend that people try a Bonarda wine soon!