Monday, October 15, 2007

Bonarda: the Italian Wine from Argentina

Bonarda is a mysterious grape. It is the second most cultivated red wine in Argentina, but its origins lie in Italy. It was brought to Argentina by Italian immigrants in the 19th century. And viticulturalists still aren't sure whether the bonarda grown in Argentina is actually bonarda or charbono. No matter what the DNA tests eventually prove, this is a grape variety that produces low tannin, food-friendly wine. And if you can find an Argentinian bonarda, it is usually a wine that you can buy for a great price, too.

The 2005 Durigutti Bonarda certainly fit this profile: it was a great food wine at a terrific price. ($7.95, Chronicle Wine Cellar; $7-$10 from other merchants) It was a beautifully deep eggplant in color,which underscored its Italian roots for me. It had luscious aromas of blueberries, leather, and plums, which was a nice blend of the Italian and the Argentinian. There were low levels of tannin, and lots of silky blueberry and plum flavors, once the wine was in your mouth. I caught a bit of minerals in the finish, which kept the wine tasting clean and brisk. This was a slam dunk in the QPR department: excellent QPR.

We had our bonarda with a suitably Italian autumn meal: Jamie Oliver's tomato-based minestrone that was made with seasonal early autumn vegetables from the farmer's market. (hint: using dried or fresh beans really makes a difference, so buy some dried beans and soak them overnight before you make the soup. They will be far less mushy than the canned variety.) A hunk of rosemary bread, some flavorful cambazola cheese, and we had a satisfying meal that went together just beautifully. Most important, the tomatoes didn't clash with the tannin levels in the wine.

This is a wonderful fall red, as good with your last of the summer barbeques as it would be with soups, stews, and pastas. You may not be familiar with the grape, but once you've had it my guess is that you will be actively looking for wines made with bonarda on the wine store shelves.


winedeb said...

I so enjoy it when you come up with a new grape variety. It is like going on a new little treasure hunt. Also I have been seeing alot of recipes from Jamie Oliver lately in the blogs. I guess I should check him out. I know who he is but never got into his recipes. Sounds like a good wine and soup for fall Debs!

Richard Auffrey said...

I have long been a fan of Bonarda. Most of them are less than $10 and give you a very good value for their price.

I have had one high-end Bonarda as well, the 2002 Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Limited Ed. Bonarda ($50). That was a powerful, complex wine. Very much unlike the simple fruity Bonardas.

foodette said...

Thanks for this post - it sounds wonderful! And that dinner - yum!

Anonymous said...

there's a bonarda in the current issue of WS (values) that is quite good, another under $10 wine...can't remember what it's called but it has a modern light blue funky label. yum!

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, everybody. I love discovering new varieties to try and wonder if I will ever be able to say I've tasted them all. The next "new" varietal I've got my sights on is negrette! But Richard, I think I'm a long-time fan of Bonarda in the making!

Italian Wine Blog said...

You don't know who Jamie Oliver is?

He's the one with the pukka tukka innit!

Ernest MG said...

Reading this about 5 years later LOL but wanted to thank you for spreading the word on Bonarda. One of my top five varietals here. Usually Durigutti, Lamadrid or Maipe Reserve. Salud!