It is my wife’s birthday, so I should keep this short.
Welcome to October. Fall has descended upon us. Cold snaps at night. Daylight whimpers away. Leaves turn.
Gone are the whites and rosés of summer. Time for something darker, deeper, and dangerous.
We turn to a widely confused black-skinned grape: Bonarda. While Italian immigrants flooded the depression-era US with red and white table cloths and cheep Chianti, they also migrated to Argentina. Today, 60% of Argentines can claim Italian ancestry (talented but blank-slate soccer star, Lionel Messi is one).
The Italians brought their grapes with them. Or at least they thought so. True Bonarda thrives in the Piedmont of Northern Italy. However, tonight’s agricultural immigrants did not have fancy DNA testing. No. They had another grape: Turca, grown in the Veneto. It looked the same. But it originated from North Eastern France, where the French call it Douce Noir, or more enticingly Corbeau: because it looks black like a crow.
Confused? Me too. But that makes wine fascinating. Culture and context blur and stretch it, compounding an endless range of options.
Tonight’s example comes from the Bodegas Trapiche in Mendoza, Argentina.
It looks black and opaque, like squid ink. A sliver of clear ruby might frame the rim, but I’m not making bets.
Brooding black berry extract, dusky forest floor, dried tobacco leaf, whiffs of cream charm but show that this 2006 must be drunk now.
Dry. This wine has no sugary give. It takes no prisoners. Acids are noticeable. Tannins daub away the saliva, feeling leafy and begging for lean protein. Alcohol is a bold 14%. With all that structure the body feels lean, muscular, but hardly heavy.
Pure, stripped, black berry and red apple juice. Dry grey bark and ash. White pepper minerality. Trapiche’s Bonarda cackles at your cliché fruit bomb malbecs. This may all sound horrid. But this wine could care less about your palate. It wants to paint it black. It wants revenge.
Like Brandon Lee, like his father Bruce, this wine wakes to a world corrupt. It has strength, depth, and dirt. It tastes unrelentingly real, attacks relentlessly, occasionally gets melodramatic when it rains, but is fleeting. This wine is very good (4 of 5), even if it wants to be very bad.
Trapiche’s Broquel Bonarda will kick start your descent into October’s darkness. Embrace your inner crow, and drink its sometimes namesake: Corbeau.
- Argentina beyond malbec (dmwineline.wordpress.com)
- TN : Catena Cabernet Franc El Cepillo, Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina (winesweden.blogspot.com)
- Argentina – Mendoza (meanderingandmalbec.wordpress.com)
- Casa Codina @ Mendoza, Argentina (concretedesignblog.com)
Messi, Lee, a reference beyon Malbec, can’t imagine what the people are like who chose to grow this grape. Hmm. The decision to leave Italian everything and immigrate to Argentina and grow this, they must be a special lot.
Thanks! The Italians were probably driven by the Great Depression and poverty.