Bonarda is the second most planted red grape variety in Argentina, following Malbec. It is thought that Bonarda was brought to Argentina from late 19th century European immigrants.
This variety has historically been blended into common red wines, such as Malbec, because of its high yields per acre and its outstanding contribution of color. Recently, Argentine winemakers have discovered its potential to produce exceptional quality, 100% varietal wines with the reduction of production per hectare.
Bonarda produces wines of intense colors: marked violets or purples that evolve to ruby red. Its aroma is intense and tend to have fruity notes of both red fruits such as strawberries and black fruits like plums and black cherries. They become more complex, giving off nuanced herbal aromas of lavender and eucalyptus. The palate is nice and sweet and with good intensity. Its tannins are soft and velvety and they often have a moderate alcohol level. These are silky, elegant wines that evoke comparisons with Pinot Noir or a more exotic Merlot.
Easily identifiable in the vineyard for its typically ironed leaves, strongly colored buds and medium, compact bunches with characteristic round berries.
In 2017, a total of 46,228 acres were cultivated, which represents 8.5% of the country’s total cultivation. In most Argentine vineyards, Bonarda is one of the last grapes to be harvested, often after Cabernet Sauvignon.
Bonarda from Argentina is believed to be the same grape called Charbono in California and Douce Noir from Savoie, France. To make things more confusing, the Bonarda grapes in Argentina are not the same as the Bonarda grapes in Italy such as Bonarda Piemontese.
Because of its low tannins and good acidity, Bonarda pairs well with a diversity of foods such as white meats, cheeses and hearty fish. Bonarda is a perfect choice for someone who enjoys lighter reds and is not of fan of big, oaky wines.
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