The bonarda (aka croatina) grape variety offers great wine values in Italy
Bonarda is the local name for the croatina grape in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna and bears no relation to the bonarda grape varieties found in Argentina and Piedmont. The mid- to late-ripening grape delivers wines with dark color, gushing fruit, low acidity and soft tannins, often resembling montepulciano or dolcetto in expression.
Where to find bonarda wines
The bonarda grape achieves its highest levels in Lombardy’s Oltrepò Pavese DOC (and the Casteggio DOC sub-area), located in the foothills of the Apennines mountains on limestone-rich clay soils. In wines alternatively labelled as Oltrepò Pavese Rosso, Sangue di Giuda or Buttafuoco, it is mixed chiefly with barbera and typically remains over 50%; it is also made into varietally-labelled wines in which it makes up at least 85% (riserva wines are aged for a minimum of 24 months). They often represent very good price-value. Look for it also in the blends of the San Colombano al Lambro / San Colombano DOC.
Bonarda delivers exceptional results — dark, fruity and low in acidity — in the sandy clay soils of Emilia-Romagna’s Colli Piacentini DOC, where it is made into varietally-labelled wines (minimum 85% croatina). It also makes up a portion of blends, typically taking a secondary position to barbera or pinot nero, in the Colli Piacentini’s Gutturnio and Novello sub-areas.
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