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Bonarda grapes

Bonarda is also known by the name of Charbono is a grape variety which is used in the production of excellent quality red wine.

This grape which has quite a complicated history is a widely traveled variety of red wine grape.

Wine grape varieties

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History and origins of Bonarda grape

Some of the earlier synonyms are Bonardawere Turin and Plant de Turin, which implied that the grape variety might have originated in Italy in the Piedmont wine region.

This grape which is known by the name of Douce noir in France, means sweet black and it means the same in French and in Italy, where this grape is known as Dolcettonero.

Due to this, ampelographers believed that this grape had Piedmontese origins. However, DNS analysis proved otherwise and now the more accepted fact is this that this grape might have originated in the North western Italian region of Savoie.

In Savoie the earliest mention to this grape has been made by the mayor Saint Pierre d’Albignyin, a letter written on November 24th 1803 which made a mention about the grape vine growing in his commune of the grape variety dates to a letter written on November 24th, 1803 by the mayor of Saint-Pierre-d’Albigny to the prefect of Savoie describing the grape varieties growing in his community.

There are also documents which show that this grape was widely planted in the communes of Montmélian & Arbin, only to become the most widely planted red grape variant at the end of the nineteenth century in Savoie.

Bonarda was also discovered in Jura, where it was known as Corbeau, which meant crow, probably referring to the inky black coloured wines, this grape is capable of producing.

In Napa valley of California, Bonarda, which is known as Charbono in the local language plays a more important and a historic role.

It is assumed that this variety was brought here by the settlers from Europe. Though the manner in which this happened is being debated upon, the most widely held theory suggests that, under the semblance of Barbera, Italians got this grape to the valley.

Characteristics of Bonarda Grape

Charbono or Bonarda is one of the most important vines of Argentina, where it seconds Malbec, when it comes to the area under plantation of this grape.

Due to Malbec, Bonarda is kind of overshadowed and is used for the production of medium bodied, fruity, bulk wines having low tannin content.

However, this gape has been taken off quite seriously by some of the local producers who are using wine making techniques and site selections, to make interesting and premium Bonarda wines.

Vine and Viticulture of Bonarda Grapes

Bonarda is a late ripening grape variant which is often harvested after the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon as it needs plenty of time to ripen.

To spread the growing season, some vine growers will prune the vine a little early in Jan to promote an early bud break.

This grape which is characterized by thick skin and high phenolic content requires heat to achieve a good amount of ripeness.

However, excess heat tends to destroy this grape giving it a cooked flavour.

Characteristics of Bonardagrape wines

This grape which produces wines with high acidity content tends to give a very fruity and a rich, complex structure, with structured tannin, peppered with sweet notes of spices, even when the yield of this grape is kept to a minimum.

Aromas and Flavours of Bonarda grape wines

In Old World wine regions like Italy and France, Bonarda is used as a blending grape which contributes to the mid palate of the wine.

In new world wine regions like California, this grape is used in the production of varietal wine.

There, Bonarda vines plantations are very old which tends to produce a medium to full bodies, dense, deep ink coloured purple wine having moderate level of acidity.

On the nose, the wine gives out aromas of black fruit & plum and on the palate, the wine gives flavours of leather and tar.

Typically, the wines from this region are aged for ten to twenty years. In Argentina, again, Bonarda grape is typically used for the production of varietal wines characterized by deep purplish colour, peppered with notes of fennel, cassis, dried fig and cherry.

When it comes to the alcohol levels, this wine typically contains moderate levels till up to 14 %.

Food Pairings with Bonarda wines

This wine goes well with most cheeses and dishes having a heavy sauce base.

When it comes to the vegetables, this wine tastes well with those veggies which are grilled and can be had with items like Morcilla (black pudding).


Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

I have been online since it all began, with blogging and creating websites. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one of my passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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