There are 18,127 hectares planted with Bonarda in Argentina and 15,199 of them are located in Mendoza province. This variety accounts for 8.3% of the total implanted hectares.
During the first four months of the year, USD 137 million of bottled Bonarda wine was exported at an average price of USD 37.93 per 9 liter case. Last year the average price per case reached USD 34.23, which suggests the variety’s growth. Among the markets where these wines are sent to, United States, Brazil, Sweden, UK and Canada are the most important. The latter has the highest average price that so far has reached USD 55.76, followed by Brazil with USD 51 per 9 liter case.
Roberto Gonzalez, winemaker at Nieto Senetiner winery, is a great defender of this variety. In an interview with WineSur, he made reference to whether Bonarda can take up second place, leaving Cabernet Sauvignon behind. “Personally, I consider it the second variety in importance in Argentina. This grape defines us as a country, as a region and it is being planted in other geographic areas of Mendoza (East) where Malbec is not,” he remarked. Regarding Cabernet Sauvignon he said that it must be acknowledged that there are exceptional wines of this varietal, “there is a price limit for our Cabernets since Napa Valley Cabernet, priced at around USD 70 a bottle, is hard to beat.”
Daniel Pi’s opinion is opposite to Gonzalez’s. Trapiche’s winemaker believes that the second variety will always be Cabernet Sauvignon. “I think Bonarda has a future but not as Cabernet Sauvignon does.” According to him, Bonarda lacks promotion and needs people to get to know it. Nevertheless, “today, it is an exotic variety.”
“Bonarda is an opportunity for Argentina,” Antonio Morescalchi, vice president of Altos Las Hormigas, maintained. He also added “the fact that this variety exists practically only in Argentina, is an enormous advantage. It is up to wineries and wine professionals to seize this opportunity with seriousness and commitment. There is a need to invest in marketing and communication, and, of course, in making top quality wines with Bonarda.”
In relation to what it is missing, the business man suggested that “we should listen to the Terroir. It is almost impossible to make very good Cabernet Sauvignon in Mendoza, so what the Terroir is telling us is to take a different road.”
“For now, Bonarda works well as a “Geeky” variety, for enthusiasts, and also as a value wine. It will be interesting to see consumer’s behavior towards high-priced Bonarda,” he concluded.
To Roberto Gonzalez, this variety has attributes similar to Malbec, such as low content of tannins, softness and silkiness. “Moreover, it has a lower alcohol level with respect to Malbec what makes it more competitive in a market in the search for low alcohol wines. In terms of aromas it is a floral wine that attracts English, Brazilian and American consumers.”
To Pi, Bonarda’s characteristics are “intense color, red fruit aromas with some strawberry aromas standing out, natural acidity and kind tannins. All this makes Bonarda an easy wine to drink that can win consumers’ hearts.”
Translation: Rocio Acosta