Like a number of successful American businessmen who opened wineries in Napa Valley, Frenchman Alfred-Alexandre Bonnie moved from a career in advertising and consumer goods to the wine business.
In 1996, he and his wife, Michele purchased Bordeaux’s Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere and, in 2005, added the adjacent Chateau Gazin Rocquencourt to their portfolio. The same year, they bought nearly 300 acres in Argentina’s Clos de los Siete project, owned by Bordeaux’s controversial winemaker Michel Rolland.
Their son, Jean-Jacques Bonnie left the corporate world in 2003 and joined the family wine business. In February, he brought Bodega Diamandes’ new line of varietal wines to Manhattan’s excellent Rayuela restaurant, which specializes in Nuevo Latino cuisine.
I liked three of the four wines; the 2010 viognier was overly alcoholic and candied-tasting.
The 2010 Bodegas Diamandes Chardonnay had a pleasant fruit aroma and flavor, with mild acidity and a buttery finish. It was easy to like with Rayuela’s appetizer of crab and shrimp wrapped in sliced tuna over cucumber and avocado, with a soy dressing. This is a perfect wine and food pairing that you can serve throughout the summer.
The 2010 Bodega Diamandes Perlita blends 80 percent malbec with 20 percent syrah. Poured into a small 10-ounce glass the wine was dense and dominated by oak and alcohol. A requested larger glass allowed the wine to aerate, and its blackberry fruit flavor and soft tannins appeared. It’s a lesson in the importance of having the right stemware, or aerating the wine in a decanter.
The 2010 Bodega Diamandes Malbec contains a small amount of petit verdot. Like its sibling perlita, the malbec has a black fruit color and character, with a velvety texture. It too is a pleasant well-made wine that complemented a mildly spicy pork chop.
If there is a critique to this new line of Bodegas Diamandes wine, it is that they are like many other wines that are structured by Michel Rolland. Very ripe fruit flavor is given a layer of vanilla aroma and taste from French oak barrels, and the wine’s full body flexes high alcohol levels and low acidity.
Rolland’s other winemaking techniques yield white wines with a buttery aroma and taste, and red wines with a soft, plush texture. It’s proven to be a successful market recipe. But it is also too familiar and erases any identity of the wine’s time and place.
And an extra glass of wines in excess of 14 percent alcohol can make you do foolish things at the end of a dinner, or put you in DUI territory while driving home.
Bodega Diamandes 2010 chardonnay and malbec retail for about $22; and the 2010 perlita is approximately $15. The 2010 Viognier is not yet in our market.