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Bonarda: The Argentinean Wine World’s Rising Star

Ahhh, Argentina. Birthplace of tango, spiritual home of the parrillada, purveyor of fútbol legends, and the land that made Malbec a wine world superstar. While Messi is still master of the pitch, and the immortal Carlos Gardel continues to serenade legions of tangueros, Malbec may soon have to share the limelight with a rising star. Say hello to Bonarda.

Bonarda, the second most widely planted red grape in Argentina after Malbec, is traditionally used as a blending grape. On its own, however, it’s an elegant, smooth wine with hints of plum and ripe cherries with a crisp acidity and light tannins that make it easy to drink and surprisingly refreshing despite its deep, inky color.

Although Bonarda is increasingly popular in Argentina, it has yet to make a name for itself among U.S. wine lovers. The main reason, according to enologist Maria Eugenia Baigorria of Bodega Mi Terruño in Mendoza, Argentina is that importers are hesitant to carry a wine that is only just starting to appear on the radar of American oenophiles.

In fact, some importers are betting that Cabernet Sauvignon will emerge as Argentina’s next big hit among American consumers. Why? It’s widely known among wine drinkers and is produced in most wine growing regions around the world. But this doesn’t stop Baigorria from believing that Bonarda will become the new Malbec in the U.S. market. The very reason Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys worldwide popularity is why Baigorria and other Argentine winemakers are of the mindset that Bonarda could soon replace Malbec as Argentina’s red wine darling.

“Argentina can easily produce a Cabernet for international markets,” says Martín Celasso, agricultural scientist and enologist at Viamonte Winery in Mendoza. “But the question is, can it compete with the great Cabernets coming out of California, Chile, or France?”


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