Croatina (Bonarda) Wine Guide
Croatina is the red grape variety essential for the wine production of three great Italian regions: Emilia, Lombardy and Piedmont. It is also known as Bonarda and this creates confusion with the real Piedmontese Bonarda, but we will simply call it Croatina because this is its real name.
Organoleptic characteristics of Croatina
Describing Croatina is quite simple, it has very marked organoleptic characteristics. It is a warm, enveloping, tannic, very soft wine, with an elegant aromatic charm, but on the whole, it is not a wine so structured and balanced as to withstand years of aging or aspire to great peaks. Let’s say it is a pleasant wine, with a very fruity and floral bouquet, slightly spicy, expressive, but never too sophisticated. On the palate it is a warm, tasty wine, with solid tannins, but not properly nuanced. It is a bit monothematic and focused on this fruit, but it is not that it has a unique finesse.
Croatina: the queen of blends
But thanks to its softness and its pleasantness it is a wine often used as a blending wine to add softness and grace. Many will already know it as one of the two wines used to produce the famous Gutturnio Piacentino, a very classic blend of Croatina (velvety) and Barbera (acidic and very fruity). This does not mean that it is a trivial or predictable wine, it is just that for now there are no wineries and winemakers that offer great depth, typicality or particularly engaging interpretations. The potential, thanks to the tannins, is there, but perhaps no one will ever bother to make a great Croatina-Bonarda, since it has always been considered an ancillary grape.
Production areas of the Croatina-Bonarda grape
The ease with which it brings softness, fruit and warm aromas has made it a vine widely used as a blending wine, often with Barbera, but not only in the Piacentini hills, but also and above all in the Oltrepò Pavese, where it was dedicated to it. the DOC Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda. And in fact, it is now taken for granted that Croatina is a native vine of Oltrepò Pavese, where it finds an ideal habitat and hectoliters of Barbera with which to celebrate. Moving further west, we still find its presence also in the Vercelli area and the Novara hills, but the epicenter is always the Oltrepò.
The reason for its success is not so much qualitative or due to the variety, but is due to its natural resistance to powdery mildew, a terrible disease of life. Gradually it replaced much more elegant, but much more sensitive vines.
Differences between Croatina and Bonarda Piemontese
Be careful not to get confused. Bonarda is a grape-wine from Piedmont and is called Bonarda Piemontese and is very different from Croatina, which in Oltrepò Pavese is often called Bonarda.
History of Croatina
It is a vine known since time immemorial, even medieval assure the wise men who deal with the ampelography sutras. Its cradle is the city of Rovescala, in the Versa Valley, obviously in the Oltrepò Pavese. The first written sources date back to the late 1800s, but it is impossible to think of the Pavia hills without Croatina, it was the wine par excellence, the daily liquid bread.