I had hoped my trip to Argentina would be a journey of Bonarda discovery since we get so little of it up here in Canada. The 2008 Mairena Reserve Bonarda was a real eye-opener,as it was clearly superior to any Bonarda I had previously tried. After I sampled it a restaurant, I made an effort to meet with the winemaker, because I was so impressed. Sadly the timing did not work out. I will have to wait until my next trip to Argentina for that visit. I do not think Mairena has wide distribution, but you should put them on your radar.
On the nose, the blueberry was very evident. But more than that, the wine smelled clean. Bonarda when done cheaply can offer smell messy, like the winemaker was trying to hide something.
Into the gulp, I will start with another thing it didn’t have: grass. Sometimes the grassy/green nature of Bonarda jumps out. I think as vineyards are trying to grasp onto the potential of Bonarda, they take stabs at what they might think Bonarda should be, the results are often promising, but all to often include some components that shouldn’t be there. The Mairena Reserve Bonards shows what it should be, and thankfully somebody is starting to give this varietal it’s due respect. The whole range of berry flavours danced in the glass, blue, red and black all worked wonderfully. The texture was glossy at first and finished off a bit dryer but still very smooth.
The oak effect was spot on. I often compliment wines for having restrained oak that frames the flavour, but in the case of this wine the oak contributed to the wine having a open feel.
I often get excited about good Bonardas because they seem to be lighting the path for others to follow, I have to say this one is the light at the end of the tunnel. If you are making a Bonarda, get a bottle of this wine and try to live up to the new standard.
PS. Have I told you I love Bonarda?
Musical Match: Joss Stone is a British Blues Singer who has done really well in the UK, but for whatever reason I never connected with her music. Put her in the new supergroup SuperHeavy with Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart and a host of other great musicians, I have to take her seriously. And there is no way she will ever be the same after this experience. The wisdom and the knowledge accrued in this experience will catapult her. Ms. Stone and Bonarda, you have both arrived. Go forth and Rock!
Special thanks to the Wines of Argentina for providing me transportation, great lodging, amazing food and access to the wonderful wine and winemakers of Mendoza and Cafayaté during a promotional tour of Argentina for 10 days in July 2011. This wine was sampled during that promotional tour.