2019 El Enemigo Bonarda “Single Vineyard – Los Paraísos”, Mendoza, Argentina (Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 4 g/l) LCBO Vintages $24.95 (750ml bottle)

You may have noticed that I seem to be continually singing the praises of Mendoza’s enigmatic El Enemigo, and this is purely because their releases continue to utterly delight; they stand out so distinctly from so many of the Argentinian wines we find in the Ontario market, and this 2019 Bonarda is no exception.

Over the years, there has been some confusion as to the history of the Bonarda grape, but recent studies have shown that plantings in Argentina, where it makes up a sizeable 10% of plantings) are for the most part the same grape as France’s Corbeau, known as Charbono in California. Now saying this, the great Ian d’Agata states, “In reality, neither name is correct, as the variety should be known as Douce Noir.”

So far, so confusing… Nevertheless, this single vineyard (soils: old riverbed clay and loam) bottling of Bonarda makes for strikingly vibrant deep purple wine; the variety is known for the colour it can bring to the glass.

The complex and rich bouquet is all about dark plummy fruit, cassis, bay leaves, Black Forest cherry torte (AKA gâteau), cinnamon, woodsmoke from the French cooperage, and a distinctly herbal note almost reminiscent of pine resin.

The palate is medium-bodied but mouth-filling, with medium tannins, both from the fruit and the oak foudres. Due to the ripeness of the fruit and the oak, the wine’s attack feels a little sweeter than it actually is, but this is all tamed by a pleasant, juicy acidity. Expect black raspberries, beetroot, black cherries, and a really lovely hit of that spicy oak. The finish is enjoyably prolonged.

I enjoyed this with beef liver, onions, bacon, and mashed potatoes, but it would pair well with most grilled meats, tomato-based pasta sauces, and heartier sausage pizza.

I’ll be running back to get a few more bottles of this for the holidays, as my first bottle vanished in no time at all.

(Four and a half out of a possible five apples)


El Enemigo wines are represented in Ontario by Noble Estates.

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