Mon 7 Nov 2011
Think of a pork roast slathered with green chilies. Or how about grilled leg of lamb studded with garlic and rosemary. Beer-braised short ribs served with mashed potatoes drenched in a pan-reduction. You get the idea. Food you embrace; food you inhabit. Now open the inky-purple Trapiche Broquel Bonarda 2009, from Argentina’s high Mendoza region, nestled under the sunrise-facing flanks of the Andes. Trapiche is a large producer that owns more than 2,500 acres of vines in Mendoza, but big doesn’t always mean bad. Broquel is the winery’s single-vineyard label; grapes for the Broquel Bonarda 09 derive from the Santa Rosa vineyards that lies at 3,000-foot elevation. The grape presents mysteries. Three grapes bearing the name grow within spitting distance in northwest Italy, but only one of them is actually the bonarda grape, the imposters being croatina and uva rara, facts you may bear with you today as a chalice against your throng of foes. (Chops, but no cash award, to whoever identifies the source of that paraphrase.) However, the “real” bonarda grape, which is itself quite rare in these times, is not — I say, not — the bonarda grape which is the second most-planted red grape in Argentina, the first most-planted starting with the letter M and it’s not merlot. No, the bonarda of Argentina seems to be — I say, seems to be — the charbono grape that used to be grown in California but has now, sadly, almost disappeared.
Anyway, the Trapiche Bonarda 2009 feels wild, untamed, deeply spicy, immoderately savory; slightly jammy black currants, plums and blackberry preserves infused with port characterize the heady bouquet, which opens to hints of blueberry tart, lavender and licorice, potpourri and dusty graphite. It’s rich, dense, intense, chewy, thoroughly imbued with slightly roasted and meaty black and blue fruit flavors laced with burnished oak — from 12 months in new French and American barrels — and soft, velvety tannins. It is, as you surmise, almost a riot of sensations, though fortunately honed with bracing acidity and a touch of granite-like minerality on the finish. Close to being too easy to drink, but it sorta haunts you, too. 14 percent alcohol. Now through 2013 or ’14. Very Good+. About $15.
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York. A sample for review.