This week’s indigenous variety from Italy is called Croatina. It also goes by the name of Bonarda in certain parts of Italy where it is grown. This fruity red variety is grown in Lombardy, in Piedmont and in Emilia-Romagna and in the Veneto. It is deep in color, not too acidic and slightly tannic. It is usually blended with other local grapes, depending on the region, either Barbera or Nebbiolo as well as some minor grapes such as Uva rara and Vespolina.
Croatina is a hearty grape that likes deep soils. It is relatively resistant to certain parasites but can be susceptible to others such as downy mildew.
It is allowed in many DOCs such as the Colli di Parma, Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa and the Colli Piacentini in Emilia. The Oltrepò Pavese, Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda and San Colombano al Lambro in Lombardy as well as the Colli Tortonesi, Bramaterra, Cisterna d’Asti, Colline Novaresi and others in Piedmont. A very small percentage can be blended in Amarone in the Veneto as well.
My first experiences with Croatina were in Milan and Bologna, where I used to drink Gutturnio, a wine generally made from Croatina and Barbera that hails from the Colli Piacentini. We used to drink it both with traditional foods from Emilia such as Salami, Gnocco Fritto and Crescentine. Just thinking about these foods, my mouth is watering. While not slimming, they were delicious and Gutturnio was a perfect foil for them.
I had the pleasure of trying Gutturnio recently at a seminar held by the Colli Piacentini. I will write about them in a post this week. In the meantime, I will crave those flavors together with this friendly version of Croatina.