We supplied the wines for a smart and splendid charity event near Regent's Park last week, and were tasked with finding something different, delicious and if not dime a dozen, definitely not expensive either (our gratuitous alliteration, not theirs!).
Various tasty canapes were served throughout, and the wines would have to sit as easily with mini roast beef Yorkshire puds, smoked salmon roulades, chocolate profiteroles and a cheese board, among others. They also had to be quaffable enough on their ownsome.
And, of course, if they're coming from Red Squirrel Wine they would have to be a little bit different.
The wines to the right are what we came up with, a red and a white from Bodega Tapiz in Mendoza, Argentina. This is a modern, forward-thinking producer turning out approachable and superbly styled wines. Importantly for us, alongside the standard international varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, Tapiz is also making wines from Argentina's 'native' varieties (insofar as they've really planted roots there, if you'll excuse the pun).
Bonarda is one of Argentina's most widely grown red grapes. Like the better-known Malbec, Bonarda actually comes from Europe but is now firmly entrenched in Argentina. Its origins are unclear, though it is probably the same thing as Corbeau from the Savoie and Charbono, which you'll find in the United States. Yet it certainly isn't the same as the Bonarda from Piedmont.
We went for the Tapiz Bonarda because it is medium rather than full-bodied, not coating your mouth with tannin, has decent acidity, and enough broad and bright fruity flavour, as well as spicy notes, to cope with a wide range of food. Moreover, because this is quite an underappreciated grape, prices for Bonarda wines aren't too dear.
No one there had heard of Bonarda before, yet everyone loved it to bits.
We're more familiar of Torrontes, which you'll find cropping up in more adventurous pubs, bars and restaurants as an aromatic, fruity alternative to bog-standard New World Sauvignon.
Yet unlike Bonarda, Torrontes truly is unique to Argentina. You'll very occasionally come across a type of Torrontes in Spain but it isn't the same one. There's actually a gamut of slightly different Torrontes but let's not confuse the issue: the only one you're likely to come across is Torrontes Riojana (La Rioja in Argentina, not Spain).
Tapiz Torrontes was perfect for the occasion: sprightly acidity, excitingly smelly scents of flowers and citrus, and combining levity with enough oomph to hold its own against the foods coming out of the kitchen. We went through this wine like water.
[Both the Tapiz Bonarda and Torrentes will be popping up in our Red Squirrel Wine boxes in the near future.]