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Wednesday 16 April 2014

Bonarda has a bright future in Argentina

2nd December, 2013 by Lucy Shaw

Despite its workhorse roots, red grape Bonarda has a bright future in Argentina according to one of the country’s most promising young winemakers.

Sebastian Zuccardi

Sebastian Zuccardi

Speaking to the drinks business in Mendoza, Sebastian Zuccardi, chief winemaker at Familia Zuccardi, said: “Bonarda has great potential in Argentina as it has a strong identity and adapts very well to our soils and climate.

“Bonarda is very different to Malbec as it’s juicer, less tannic, slightly less structured and much more sensitive to oak.

“It’s naturally sweeter than Malbec but at high altitude it performs differently and is fresher in style. For me, the ideal Bonarda is a blend from different regions and altitudes to get the best from the grape,” he added.

Emma Zuccardi Bonarda

Emma Zuccardi Bonarda 2009

Zuccardi has been experimenting with Bonarda in egg-shaped concrete fermenters and has designed his own line of bespoke concrete vats to aid the grape’s fermentation.

“Bonarda breathes better in concrete than stainless steel and the resulting wines are more alive. As the variety is so sensitive to oak, it’s a good way around the problem, with only 7% of the final blend seeing any oak,” he told db.

“Bonarda was traditionally a low quality workhorse grape in Argentina, but I have made it my mission to show off what it can do when you plant it in the right sites. My aim was to create the ultimate expression of Bonarda,” he added.

The resulting wine, Familia Zuccardi Emma Zuccardi Bonarda, is named after Sebastian’s 87-year-old grandmother, with 30% of the grapes hailing from a vineyard planted at 1,400 metres above sea level in the San José sub region of the Uco Valley.

“I named it after my grandmother as the wine mirrors her personality – both are bright and charming. It costs £25 a bottle, but it’s a very boutique wine – only 7,000 bottles were made,” Zuccardi told db.

He also singled out Petit Verdot as having the potential to thrive in Argentina.

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