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Altos las Hormigas Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda 2003

Bonarda from Argentina
  • W&S92
0% ABV
  • JS92
  • RP90
  • WS87
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Winemaker Notes

"If you're already familiar with Argentine Bonarda, this wine will make you feel as though you've landed on another planet. It comes from 30-year-old vines planted in two areas within Mendoza... The combination results in a massive red with roasted black fruit aroma that takes you to the Rhone, its firm, tenxe tannins and vibrant acidity providing a solid structure that suggest a brilliant future. A hedonistic pleasure, and a true steal for the price."
-Wines & Spirits

Critical Acclaim

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W&S 92
Wine & Spirits
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Altos las Hormigas

Altos las Hormigas

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Altos las Hormigas, Argentina
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Wine from Mendoza is more than just Malbec: it is the reflection of a know-how, a tradition and an origin. Founded in 1995 by a consortium of prominent Italian winemakers, including Alberto Antonini of Antinori and Antonio Morescalchi, Altos Las Hormigas has always been evolving. Their Terroir Project is working towards the creation of an appellation system in Mendoza, while showing Malbec’s diversity of expression according to its origin. Based on this philosophy, their portfolio shows the tremendous versatility of the Malbec, from fresh, fruit driven Mendoza Clásico from Lujan de Cuyo to the structured and mineral Malbec Reserve from the Uco Valley. Along with Malbec, Altos Las Hormigas has been crafting Bonarda for 10 years, Argentina’s second most planted variety. They display its joyful and delicate nature under the classic line Colonia Las Liebres.

In 2012, Altos Las Hormigas took a significant step in their ongoing evolution from boutique value winery to the terroir-driven, serious player in the world of Malbec that they are today. After seeing the potential for wines of consequence in the Uco Valley, the team decided to stop using new oak and small barriques for all of their wines; instead going with older, untoasted, large oak foudres across the board. This decision has allowed for much more expression and elegance, especially on the sublime Appellation series of Malbec, which features the limestone-driven Uco Valley sites of Gualtallary, Altamira, and Vista Flores.

They’ve teamed up over the past decade with Pedro Parra, PhD in Terroir, to use various techniques to find both the ideal sites for their wines as well as a way to measure the ideal ripeness of their fruit. With Parra’s guidance, the team at Altos Las Hormigas has dug over 1,500 soil pits in the Uco Valley, chasing the chalky Mendoza gold that is limestone, which imparts a beautiful minerality to Malbec. In Gualtallary, Altamira, and Vista Flores, they have found the limestone trail, where the vineyards have shallow topsoil and the vines dive deep into the calcareous mother rock. They also use electromagnetism to map out the soil depth of their vineyard sites so that they can avoid picking a whole block where, due to the warm and hilly vineyards of Mendoza, there may be some underripe and overripe grapes in addition to the ideally ripe grapes. Instead, they use that information to harvest in irregular polygons, and pick the fruit with ideal ripeness in every section.

Argentina

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Stretching from the Andes to Patagonia, Argentina's unique terroir lends to high quality wines. Formerly associated with inexpensive bulk wine but dramatically shifting focus from quantity to quality, Argentina is the most important wine-producing country in South America. Certainly excellent values abound here still, but increases in vineyard investment, improved winery technology, and a commitment to innovation since the late 20th century have contributed to the country’s burgeoning image as a producer of great wines at all price points. The climate here is diverse but generally continental and agreeable, with hot, dry summers and cold snowy winters—a positive, as snow melt from the Andes Mountains can be used to irrigate vineyards. Grapes very rarely have any difficulty achieving full ripeness.

Mendoza, a large and famous region responsible for more than 70% of Argentina’s wine production, is further divided into several sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. Red wines dominate here, especially Malbec, the country’s star variety, while Chardonnay is the most successful white. The province of San Juan is best known for blends of Bonarda and Syrah. Torrontés is a specialty of the La Rioja and Salta regions, the latter of which is also responsible for excellent Malbecs grown at very high elevation.

Bonarda is actually a name given to a handful of distinct grape varieties, mainly originating and growing in Italy, but also increasingly popular in Argentina.

As far as vineyard area in Argentina, Bonarda comes in second to Malbec. However, DNA profiling shows that what the Argentine people have named as Bonarda, is actually identical to California’s Charbono—and Charbono is actually a grape called Douce Noire from Savoie, a mountainous wine region in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes of eastern France. The Argentine wine called Bonarda is typically linear, somewhat complex and loaded with black fruit. California Charbono is beautifully concentrated in a deep magenta color and presents lively and juicy red fruit, spice and a pleasant grip in the finish.

In Italy, in Lombardy’s Oltrepò Pavese and Emilia Romagna’s Colli Piacentini zones, the grape called Bonarda is not Bonarda at all but instead, Croatina. In Novara, Bonarda Novarese, used to ease the tannins of Spanna (Nebbiolo), is actually Uva Rara. The wines labeled as Bonarda from Oltrepò Pavese are spicy, medium to light bodied and full of both red and black fruit.

Bonarda Piemontese is an aromatic variety that covered 30% of the region before phylloxera. Today it grows sporadically in Piedmont, mainly near Govone. Bonarda Piemontese is actually Bonarda.

EBW9036_2003 Item# 80578