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Wine Reviews: Alamos Bonarda
by: Vino Joe (e-mail

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Remember the Alamo: Alamos Bonarda

Bonarda is a grape whose origins are in Italy, and is still found predominantly in Lombardy and Piedmont for blending purposes. Well, actually, no one is quite sure, as there is some discrepancy: the Bonarda in Lombardy is often called Croatina, which is a different grape entirely.

The Bonarda we're reviewing today, however, is from Argentina (still the land of great wine bargains). Many believe the grape was brought over from Italy by 19th and 20th century immigrants, and along with Malbec it is the most widely planted grape in Argentina. But alas, there are those who believe that Argentinean Bonarda is actually a California grape called Charbono…which some experts believe is a strain of the Italian Piemontese grape Dolcetto!

Confused? Good. Now forget everything in the opening paragraphs, as it won't do you any good, nor will it help you to enjoy the wine. Remember this: Alamos Bonarda. It's about seven or eight bucks in most stores (I got it for six!), and it comes in a nice-looking bottle. Let the geeks ponder and argue over the origins of the grape while you help yourself to glass after glass of this great wine value.

Alamos Bonarda has an interesting nose of black fruit and earth, with a touch of alcohol. In the mouth it has a surprisingly smooth texture, dry ripe fruit flavors of black cherry and cranberry, mild tannins, and medium to high acidity. It finishes with slightly bitter, green fruit and earthy flavors, with hints of tobacco and dusty tannins. 

What can you expect from a six-dollar wine these days? For the price, Alamos Bonarda is absolutely adequate, and I'd describe it as having a rustic charm. As the flavors are not overpowering and the structure is acceptable, the wine will match with just about any food, reminding me of a low-cost Chianti. It's a fine everyday wine and a nice break from the insipid, wood-chip-enhanced, characterless Cabernets and Merlots in the same price range. A little rough around the edges, this is a respectable, "blue collar" wine: no flash or wow factor, but it gets the job done at a fair rate. Pick a bottle up and try it with a juicy burger off the grill.

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