Last night, I finished off the remainder of the 2006 La Posta Bonarda that I opened on Sunday night. One writer that I read recently asserted that Bonarda was the Argentine Zinfandel: its European origins are undeniable but obscure, and it has only become respected and important in Argentina. The wine it produces is juicy and fruity and enjoyable but perhaps not of transcendent quality. That comparison seems pretty apt to me, at least if this La Posta is at all indicative of the kind of wine that Bonarda makes. It was an enjoyable on the second night as the first, although it wasn't profound. The only thing about it that makes me reluctant to purchase it again is the fact that I can get a lot of really good wines for $16 a bottle. That is, it's not the vest value in the world.
Believe it or not, Argentina is the most important wine-producing country in South America and produces the fifth most wine per year of any nation in the world. Those little tidbits of trivia surprised me when I read them -- I had assumed that Chile, whose wines are ubiquitous in grocery and liquor stores around here, would have placed ahead of Argentina, but such is not the case. Even more surprising to me is the fact that the number of acres of vines under cultivation in Argentina and the wine production from them have fallen dramatically over the past 25 years. In the '60s and '70s, Argentina produced and consumed a staggering amount of wine. Virtually all of the wine produced was for domestic consumption, and the Argentines consumed more than 90 liters per capita per annum. Think about that for a minute: every man, woman, and child in Argentina drank 120 bottles of wine per year. And most of it was high-alcohol mass-produced plonk. Not coincidentally, the end of the military dictatorship in the early '80s ushered in a better era of viticulture, more commercial and more quality-oriented. Vast quantities of low-quality vines were ripped out, and winemaking practices improved dramatically. There are today a large number of high quality (and high price) Argentine wines on the world market, and that's a good thing.