2017 Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda Classica Organic
Most of us associate Argentina with Malbec, and for good reason. Argentina makes great Malbec.
Yet Malbec is an immigrant to Argentina, originating from Cahors, France. And it isn’t the only grape immigrant to Argentina, and while I don’t want to knock Malbec’s fame, I would like introduce you to something just as delicious – Bonarda.
Bonarda drinks like Malbec but is just a gentle touch softer in its tannins, a bit more rounded in its acidity, and a touch more rustic than Malbec. It’s originally from Italy, so think Malbec with just a touch of Italy in its soul – a bit more freewheeling yet with a sultry feel.
For most of its existence, Bonarda has been pressed into service as a bulk blending variety. Yet in 2000, the brothers Alberto and Attilio Pagli tried a one-off run of Bonarda, just for fun. They own the family winery Altos Los Hormigas, famous for its Malbecs, and were curious about Bonarda.
What they ended up with in that original batch blew them away. The Bonarda was so quaffable, big, and easygoing at the same time that they knew immediately they were onto something.
That was almost 20 years ago, and now they are known as Argentina’s Bonarda specialists, famed for bringing this humble variety to the international stage, and producing, as the Argentinian wine magazine Descorchados notes, is “the best Bonarda in Argentina.”
With the 2017 vintage, it shows: Pronounced aromas of blackberries, nutty spices, plums, and cigar box are found in this full-bodied, extravagant wine. The palate is immensely appealing, adding notes of red cherry, plum and pepper that draw to a close with a structured, almost Brunello-like finish. It is delicious and charming now, yet also has the muscle to hold in the cellar for at least five more years.
Sure, “the best Bonarda in Argentina” may sound a bit humble. And I know for some of you, five buck wine smacks of “Can it really be that good?” But think about it – here is a local magazine depicting a local product. It’s coming straight from their vineyard, their farm, right to your table. The grape may be humble, and the price may be low, but this wine is extraordinary.
Alla buona derrata, pensaci su!