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The Croatina Grape


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About Croatina

(Synonyms: Bonarda, Bonarda di Rovescala, Crovattina, Crovettina, Crovattino, Nebbiolo di Gattinara, Neretto, Spanna di Ghemme, Spanna-Nebbiolo, Uga del Zio, Uva Vermiglia)

Background

Map showing the Lombardy region of Italy

Croatina is a red-wine grape originating in Italy, where it is today grown in several regions, primarily Lombadry, but also including the Emilia Romagna, the Piedmont, and even the Veneto (where small amounts are allowed in Amarone). As “Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda” from the Lombardy, it can be a monovarietal, and must in any event be at least 85% Croatina; it can also appear as a monovarietal in Piemontese wines—as “Colli Tortonesi” (usually but not always 100%), “Cisterna d’Asti” (80% - 100%), or “Colline Novaresi Croatina” or “Coste della Sesia Croatina” (85% - 100%); in the various other Italian blends in which it occurs, the percentage is lower, often fairly small. (Its ultimate origin is probably, as the name suggests, Croatia, but Italy is where it is now established.)

(The use of the name “Bonarda”—as in a couple of our recommendations farther below—can be quite confusing; Croatina has no relation to the Bonarda grown in South America—which is also called Charbono or Douce Noir—nor to Bonarda Piemontese, which is yet another different grape. There will be a quiz in the morning.)

The wines from Croatina are generally described as dark in color, fruity, and (as Jancis Robinson puts it), “with a certain bite” to them. Sources seem to differ on its ageworthiness, some saying it can benefit from bottle aging, others that it is intended to be drunk young; chances are that it depends on the particular bottling (riserva wines are aged 24 months minimum, and are probably the more likely candidates for further cellaring). Comparisons with Dolcetto are sometimes made. Croatina is as yet a minor player on the world stage, but it can make some quite satisfactory wines and is well worth attention.

Note that some Croatina wines are vinified somewhat off-dry, and even frizzante (sparkling); examine any potential purchase with care to avoid surprises.

Factoid: Croatia is also the probable source of such distinctively "Italian" wines as Primitivo (Zinfandel), the path from Croatia to northern Italy being relatively short.

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Some Descriptions of Croatina Wines

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Some Croatinas to Try

(About this list.)

While Croatina wines are not exactly scarce on the market, the offerings—at least according to the leading wine-search engines—comprise a good variety of makers each of whose wines is available at a very limited number of retailers (usually just one is shown). In fact, we could only locate three in our price range that seem available at more than a single retailer, and those we present below; but if you keep an eye open when wine shopping, or ask in well-run wine shops, you can probably locate a bottle or two to try. There are also few writeups of these wines, since Croatina is not [yet] well-known outside Italy; but, since the reviews that are out there are rather enthusiastic, it looks like this is a good varietal awaiting discovery. Be a pioneer!


Davide Carlone Croatina

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Castello di Luzzano Bonarda
(Don’t confuse this wine with their like-named “Carlino” bottling, listed below.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Castello di Luzzano “Carlino” Bonarda
(Don’t confuse this wine with their plain Bonarda bottling, listed above.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

According to critic ratings and scores, there are no readily available Croatinas any better than those on the list above.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.