Friends turn out to be great winemakers

Childhood friends Juan Tonconogy and Alex Campbell found themselves drawn to winemaking while in college reminiscing about hanging out at the estate of Alex’s great-grandfather, Don Isidro Maza, in Mendoza when they were kids.

They convinced the family to go beyond growing grapes to making their own wine from the estate. What a great idea that turned out to be, because today they produce several interesting wines from these vineyards that have been in the Maza family for more than 80 years.

Bonarda is an unusual grape variety that originates from Piedmonte in Italy, where it goes by the name of uva rara and is usually blended into the gattinara type wines. Nevertheless, it seems to have adapted well, because this Finca Los Maza is a delightful and interesting recommendation for the adventurous wine drinker.

In the glass, Finca Los Maza is a deep, semi-opaque, garnet-red color with fine ruby streaks going through it and out to a light reddish-pink rim definition with high viscosity.

On the nose, the wine has an unusual “exotic” range of rustic scents with crushed elderberry fruit, myrrh, coriander seed, mint, varnished wood and crushed black cherries with underlying notes of earth and minerals.

Powerful and rounded, Finca Los Maza hits the palate with spicy cherry juice, elderberry juice, concentrated sloe fruit crush, pomegranate pits, earthy references and other pungent black fruit concoctions. It eases off on the midpalate with soft, supple tannins that are finely balanced, and then finishes with a big earthy fruit kick, invoking freshly crushed elder fruit to the end.

This is an interesting wine that, based on its concentration and forceful flavor profile, is an excellent alternative to more traditional cabernet- and malbec-based wines from Argentina. It might need about a half-hour out of the bottle prior to consumption, but should then provide immense drinking pleasure and will be good during the next year or so. Finca Los Maza should work great with traditional rustic meat dishes, such as carne asada and pollo con mole.

Wine: Finca Los Maza Coleccion

Grape: Bonarda

Region: Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Vintage: 2004

Price: $10.99

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at

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