Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda ($11.99) Mendoza From the producer: "100% Bonarda Argentina organic grapes come from pergola vineyards located in Luján de Cuyo (Mendoza), at 800 m. The area has a semi-desert climate with hot days and cool nights. We choose deep, fresh soils with low fertility to control vigor, delay ripening, and avoid hydrological stress. These are sandy loams where the clay component provides mineral nutrients and water retention, while the sand component prevents the silt and clay part from compacting excessively, and guarantees water drainage.
Vinified in 300hl stainless steel tanks with temperature control for a duration of 10 days from crushing to pressing, with daily rack-and-return for a gentle extraction. The wine is aged in concrete tanks, receiving no oak treatment in order to preserve freshness and to represent a pure expression of the grape.
The efforts that the winery has been making since 2012 to grow grapes organically have finally paid off in this 2017 vintage. This Bonarda is an organic certified wine, presenting notes of crispy red fruits and white pepper, with soft tannins in the palate and intense flavors. It has a long and fresh finish, with lots of character. Its deep and vibrant mouthfeel makes it a true pleasure wine. Ideal to pair with pasta Pomodoro dishes, pizza and light meats."
From me: Bonarda from Argentina is also called Douce Noir, and its DNA traces back to Savoie, France. It's a dark grape that produces a medium-bodied, red fruit forward wine that is not usually aged in oak. You might have heard of an Italian Bonarda, but they are a completely different set of grapes and have nothing to do with this varietal. Bonarda is the second most planted red grape in Argentina (behind Malbec), and it produces wine that is easy to drink with a kind of brambly fruit and spicy earthiness on the palate. This wine is an excellent value, and a great alternative to Pinot Noir or Merlot.
Vicentin Blanc de Malbec ($16.99) Mendoza From the producer: "Blanc de Malbec owes its name to the type of vinification. It is a red wine vinified as a white, making it the first Blanc de Malbec in Argentina. The idea for this innovative wine came from the vineyard and led to its final creation. The hue is slightly pink, well defined and bright. Soft floral notes of sweet jasmine are perceived along with violets and mild aromas of fruits including peach, strawberry and watermelon. Fine integration with the wood awakens flavors of cinnamon, cloves and spices. Sweet, fresh, unctuous, explosive, very fruity and elegant on the palate; the taste is intensified by hints of mature and sweet tannins."
From me: I had never encountered a white Malbec until this one, so I was obviously curious about what the wine would be like. Red Malbec is usually quite bold and full-bodied, often with spicy or smoky undertones. As a white wine it still has a lot of character, and it is very elegant on the palate. It is aged six months in oak, but the wood just smooths it out and builds on the creamy mouthfeel created by the malolactic fermentation. This is a well-balanced, interesting, pretty wine that is also sure to be the talk of the table.
1. Taste with as clean a palate as possible. Try to avoid smoking or chewing gum just beforehand. If you have just eaten, drink some water to clear the flavors of the meal.
2. Keep an open mind. Try new things! We all get into ruts when it comes to our palates, but the fun of a tasting is that you don't have to commit to the whole bottle. If you don't like what you've tasted, you can spit it out.
3. Spit or swallow--it's up to you! Just make sure you use the spittoon!
4. See, swirl, smell, sip, savor. Give attention to all aspects of the wine. Here are a couple of links that explain the process:
5. Have fun! Wine tasting has an air of elitism around it, but unnecessarily so. Your palate is your own-it's as individual as you are-and the most important part of appreciating good alcohol is knowing what you like and why you like it. You don't have to use fancy words or spend a lot of money on a bottle. As the kids say, you do you!