Alfred-Alexandre and Michèle Bonnie lived in Buenos Aires between 1968 and 1970 before going back to Europe. Although both had backgrounds in the world of advertising, their love of wine led them to purchase Château Malartic-Lagravière, a Grand Cru Classé in Graves (Bordeaux, France) in 1996. Soon their enterprise expanded with the acquisition of the neighboring Château Gazin Rocquencourt and eventually the oenologist Michel Rolland tempted them into a new adventure: to join him as partners in his Clos de los Siete project in Mendoza.
Seduced by the potential of the soil and the incredible landscape, the Bonnies bought 130 hectares in 2005 and, five years later, opened DiamAndes. Designed by the Bórmida-Yanzón architectural studio, the winery building is an attraction in itself and has received several major international awards for its design.
One of its most interesting features is the Crypt, a room that houses the Bonnie family’s private wine collection in all its different formats and vintages. On the DiamAndes estate, the visitor can also enjoy the cuisine at Diam’s Bistrot & Bar a Vin, a boutique restaurant run by chef Santiago Orozco Russo whose menu is based on local seasonal products, wine pairings, and, of course, a French twist.
Today, Alfred-Alexandre and Michèle have converted their passion into a family business with their son Jean-Jacques joining the winemaking team, their daughter Véronique managing the financial side and their daughter in law Severine handling image, communication and marketing.
DiamAndes: wines of personality that respect the traditions of Bordeaux
The French spirit is also present in the way DiamAndes manage the vineyard and make their wines. “We draw on French ancestral knowhow during the winemaking process,” says the oenologist Ramiro Balliro.
“The first thing we try to do in the countryside, through our cultural practices and irrigation, was to extend the plants’ roots so they would be able to regulate themselves and extract nutrients and minerals from different layers of the soil. In France, the depth of the roots and age of the vine are key factors in determining the type and quality of the wine.”
Balliro goes on to say that the general idea is to sacrifice potency in favor of balance and elegance, another part of the Bodega’s French DNA.
“We prefer to intervene as little as possible. We just try to regulate and monitor the temperature of the fermentation process and do very little while the reds are fermenting, always seeking to maximize the elegance and refinement of our grapes.”
This means that at the winery fermentation is carried out exclusively in stainless steel tanks designed by the Bonnie family in accordance with methods used in Bordeaux where the emphasis is placed on a stable temperature, precision monitoring and avoiding unnecessary tank movement during extraction.
Following vinification, most DiamAndes wines are aged in oak barrels imported directly from the best French barrel-makers. The aging lasts between 10 and 18 months depending on the range and the variety.
Paying tribute to the grape
Since 2017, DiamAndes has been working organically with their grapes, using natural fertilizers and biodegradable products, with the goal being to achieve organic certification for the entire vineyard in 2023. 2019, the winery received vegan certification for all of its wines.
“We also plant vegetables in order to nourish and better structure the soil along with a program by which we try to encourage native weeds and the natural selection of organic material.”
It all comes back to the core philosophy: the need to pay homage to the grape, both in the vineyard and during the preparation and conservation process so as to create as pure an end product as possible.
“Our intention, in addition to making great wines, is to respect the character of the fruit of the countryside, to convey a message about our place, the way we work and our philosophy.”
The wines of DiamAndes
The winery currently produces three lines: entry level features their Malbec Rosé L’Argentin de Malartic, Perlita Chardonnay and Perlita Malbec-Syrah, which are designed to be easy to drink while maintaining quality.
The reserve line, DiamAndes de Uco, offers Viognier, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cabernet Franc all as 100% varietals, created with an eye to food pairings and the enhancement of the gastronomic experience.
Finally, Diamandes de Uco Grande Reserve Chardonnay and DiamAndes de Uco Grande Reserve Malbec-Cabernet are the Bodega’s iconic wines, combining a genuine expression of the terroir with the latest winemaking methods.
Around 90% of output is for export, but the needs of the domestic market are also met. United States, Canada and Asia are the winery’s three main export regions.