Have you ever heard of the Bonarda wine grape? I hadn’t. So when I stumbled upon it recently, I decided to do a little research, which I always find educational, delightful and enriching.
Did you know that there are three wine grapes in Italy, and another in Argentina, all with this name? Are they one and the same? Not quite.
Let’s start with Italy. According to Snooth.com, of the three Italian grapes, Croatina, Uva Rara and Bonarda Piemontese, only the last one is the true Bonarda grape, and this one is rarely seen.
WineSearcher explains that “Prior to the phylloxera crisis of the late 19th century, Bonarda Piemontese rivaled Barbera and Nebbiolo in the vineyards of western Piedmont. Although quite capable of producing distinctive wines of good quality, it was replanted only sparsely following the epidemic.” The reason: Bonarda Piemontese produces very low yields, making it an undesirable grape for rebuilding the wine industry.
Now let’s look at Argentina. Until Malbec recently took the top spot, Bonarda had been the most widely planted wine grape in Argentina.
The problem is that nobody is certain whether the Argentinian Bonarda is the Bonarda Piemontese or the California Charbono. Many experts are leaning to Charbono.
I would love to do a blind taste test of the three wines!
In Agentina, Bonarda has generally been used as a mixing varietal for jug wine. Today, however, with its pure fruit notes of blackberries, plum and cassis, and a hint of earthy minerality, it is becoming more appreciated as a standalone varietal. And the good news is that it pairs with just about anything, from hamburgers to salad.
I’d love to hear your experience with this grape. Thanks!