There are only 4 wineries in all of Argentina that can truly boast having a good bonarda. For those who don’t know, Bonarda is originally an Italian varietal from the Piedmont region, that was brought over here (to Argentina) by the massive wave of Italian immigration beginning in the late 1800s. It is a physically larger grape (the berry itself is larger) which gives it a higher yield. It also has a tendency for low acidity but a good deal of tannin.

Typically in Argentina it is grown in the “eastern regions” of Rivadavia or Maipú, which is where a very high percentage of the Bonarda that comes out of Mendoza is from. These lower altitude regions of Mendoza, which by comparison to the rest of the world is still fairly high, produce an “ok” Bonarda. The reason is because of the warmth.

Gabriel Blanco, the producer of the Mairena Wines… and the very well known Mairena Bonarda has his vineyards in a region of Mendoza called Alto Urgarteche. This region, which is a sub-region of Lujan de Cuyo (which in turn is one of the four main regions of Mendoza), is pressed up against the Andes mountains and lies at an altitude of nearly 1200 meters. Because of this extra altitude and proximity to the mountains, the average temperature is much lower than in the lower regions of Mendoza. This low temperature adds stress to the vines which ultimately results in a very low yielding Bonarda. Normal Bonarda yield is about 15,000 kg per hectare and the Blancos are getting about 8000 kg per hectare or about half of the normal yield.

What does this mean in terms of flavor? Much more concentration, aroma and color. Just imagine that for every one grape that goes into the Blanco’s wine, there are two required for other’s wines. YUM!

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