When most of us think of Argentina and wine, we think Malbec. However, there is more to Argentina than Malbec. On a recent trip to Mendoza, sponsored by Uncorking Argentina, I had the opportunity to enjoy wines produced from Argentina’s other signature grapes. Below are some suggestions.
There has been some debate as to the origin of Argentina’s Bonarda, whether it’s of Italian or French descent. The general consensus is that it’s French in origin and is the same grape as Douce Noir, also known as Corbeau or Charbono. Bonarda is Argentina’s second most planted grape behind Malbec.
2011 Bodega Dante Robino Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina (around $11 USD at wine-searcher.com)
This wine is fermented in 100% American oak. It’s a full-bodied wine, meaty and robust, with aromas and flavors of cedar, dark berries, and tobacco, perfect for pairing with an Argentine asado.
2011 Allegrini & Renacer Enamore, Mendoza, Argentina, (around $26 at wine-searcher.com)
This wine is a joint venture between Allegrini and Renacer. The wine is produced Amarone-style by a process called appassimento, in which the grapes are dried outdoors for a few weeks to increase sugar concentration. The name Enamore is a play on Amarone. The result is a medium-dry red blend composed of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bonarda, with aromas and flavors of chocolate and dark, dried fruits. Suggested pairings include earthy foods like mushrooms, as well as poultry and pork. It would be an ideal, yet unconventional, wine to serve with holiday meals.
2012 Argento Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina (around $10 USD at snooth.com and wine-searcher.com)
I did not taste this wine during my trip, but earlier this year during a virtual tasting. This was my second Bonarda tasting and was one of my favorites from that event. It’s fermented in stainless steel then aged in 100% American oak for four months. It has a velvety mouthfeel with earthy, floral aromas and balanced, rich flavors of cherry, plum, raspberry, and a kiss of oak.
Torrontés is a grape that is grown primarily in Argentina and is a genetic hybrid of Muscat of Alexandria and Criolla. The resulting wine has very floral aromatics and is crisp, dry, and refreshing, with fruity flavors, medium body, and good acidity.
2013 Caelum Torrontés, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (around $29 USD at wine-searcher.com)
I tried this wine during my first evening in Argentina. It’s fermented in stainless steel and is characteristically aromatic with moderate acidity. It possesses aromas and flavors of citrus, grass, and green apple, similar to a Sauvignon Blanc.
2013 Gimenez Riili Buenos Hermanos Torrontés, La Rioja, Argentina ($14 at wine-searcher.com)
The production of this wine is around 15,000 bottles (1250 cases per year). It’s fermented for two months in stainless steel. The wine is very aromatic and juicy, with aromas and flavors of citrus and tropical fruits.
2012 Crios de Susana Balboa Torrontés, Argentina (around $15 USD at wine.com)
I did not taste this wine in Argentina, but rather earlier this year as part of the aforementioned virtual tasting. It is widely available in the United States and is a wonderful example of Torrontés. It was, in fact, my first ever Torrontés. What I found intriguing about this wine was its floral aromas and playful duality of sweetness and acidity, although it’s a dry wine. I tasted a multitude of fruit flavors: honeydew, lime, orange, peach, pear, tangerine, and tropical fruits. This is the quintessential warm weather wine.
All photos are courtesy of the author.