Uncorked with Travel Guy, Part 3: Mairena Bonarda

26 Sep

Mairena Bonarda 2005

This weekend I came back with Part 3 of my series on Anuva Wines, this time trying a Mairena Bonarda from 2005. I knew that this new bottle would have a lot to live up to because the San Gimignano Malbec from Part 2 is undoubtedly one of my favorite wines I’ve ever tried. But with much responsibility and legend to live up to also comes the potential to bring high rewards. I’d sampled this bottle once before at a wine tasting with Anuva and remembered that while it wasn’t my favorite at the event, it was notable. Now the challenge would come again, and could it live up to previous libations?

This dark wine, which has been described as having tastes of vanilla, toast and sour cherry, goes for U$15, but the interesting story behind the company affords it a rare quality which could by all means be reason for a niche, jumping the price higher. The story behind Mairena, produced by the Blanco Family, which has been producing wine in Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza for generations, is that during the military dictatorship in Argentina certain names were prohibited. They wanted to name their daughter Mairena, but it was on the prohibited list, and thus settled on something else. Yet they still liked the name, and thus when it was allowed, named this line of wine Mairena. The forbidden fruit tastes awfully sweet.

Now, I’ll admit that this is the only bonarda I’ve tried, but to me it had a sharp taste at first, quickly grabbing my attention but making me wonder where it was going. Robert Parker, an expert in South American wines, has rated this bottle with 90 points, a damn good score. Yet I wasn’t totally sold. I liked the wine, and would not say I was unhappy with it, but I just couldn’t say it was very memorable. But remembering that so many things affect a wine tasting, I decided to leave some left for a second impression the next day. Often times a good wine will open up with more time, and I also wanted to try pairing it with food.

The next day I uncorked the bottle again and smelling it could see that it still had a great bouquet. I made a plate of pasta to accompany the meal, though it’s also listed as going well with game meat or cheese and spicy sauces. To my surprise, the bottle opened up very well and side by side with the pasta, tasted much better. It’s amazing how food can greatly impact the drink and vice versa. The Mairena Bonarda 2005 still isn’t my favorite bottle of wine, but the truth is that I’m okay with that. Not every bottle can be your favorite, and it would be ridiculous to say every bottle is amazing. There has to be a mid-ground, even while the quality of these wines is top notch. Again, everyone has different taste buds, and for me, the bottle improved greatly on the second day.

With that being said, I think the bottle goes well with food and should be paired rather than taken alone. If I were having this bottle again I would let it sit after opening for a while before drinking it, because while it was smoother after a while, it also had a lighter feel to it which was great for dinner time on a spring night. Stay tuned for the next segment of Uncorked, coming soon.

Technical Data

Varietal: Bonarda 100%.
Maturation: French Oak – 6 months.
Alcohol Content: 13.7% by Vol.
Bottle: 750ml.
Packaging: 12x750ml/case

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