Description 1 of 2
Common synonyms: Croatina, Bonarda Piemontese, Uva Rara, Bonardo Novarese
Parentage of the grape: whoever it is, it has some ‘splaining to do
History of the grape: Bonarda is a confusing grape to describe because, depending on where it was made, one person’s Bonarda is another person’s Charbono. The story begins in Italy, where this grape has three offshoots: The Bonarda grape planted in north central Italy in Otrepo Pavese and Colli Piacentini is known there as Croatina. When one sees “Bonarda” on an Italian wine, chances are it is this grape, which originated in Croatia, hence the name. Then there is the Bonarda known as Uva Rara (Bonardo Novarese) grown in Piedmont. Finally, the Bonarda known as Bonarda Piemontese, which is also from Piedmont, but very rarely seen, however, this is considered the “true” Bonarda.
A grape known as Bonarda has become one of the top two most popular red grapes in Argentina (next to Malbec). However, that grape is believed to really be Charbono (Corbeau in France), and not related to the Italian grapes at all. Conclusive tests still have yet to be done. The same for US Bonarda, though many producers make wine labeled as Charbono to make that distinction.
A very confusing situation indeed. But nonetheless, whether Charbono or Bonarda, both are worth seeking out.
Characteristics of the grape: dry, medium tannins, firm minerality, cherries, ripe plums, earthy
Regions where the grape is currently important: Italy (Piedmont, Lombardy), Argentina, California
Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry red
Description 2 of 2
Some believe Bonarda, from northeastern Italy’s Piedmont region, has been grown in California under the name Charbono. But now, this notion has largely been disproved. It would come as surprise to many, that Bonarda is the most widely planted varietal in Argentina, where it is highly regarded for its ability to produce juicy red wines. Traditionally, Bonarda, from Piedmont, was called upon as a workhorse variety. There it performs at its best when blended with the equally fruity, but more structured Barbera.
What a cheery little fellow you are, Senor Bonarda. We’ve seen you pushed to the limit, working the hot and arid fields of Italy and America. But all the while you’ve maintained your jovial disposition. You don’t get to spend as much time with your longtime companion Barbera since arriving in America. But you seem to accept her North American independence. Of late, your American employers make fewer demands upon you. So enjoy your retirement Bonarda; you’ve earned it. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)
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