It's that time of the month again, so here is my Wine Blogging Wednesday 7 entry. This time the challenge was to find an unusual red varietal...no Pinot Noir or Tempranillo or Cabernet Sauvignon or the like. I thought about drinking my Bonny Doon Mourvedre (since I just got it) and then toyed with the idea of Charbono (and ended up having that a few nights ago, figuring I had this Bonarda in my pocket ready for tonight. Oh, how wrong I was). This was one of those cases where I went to the wine store and poked around and asked around and finally came up with the most obscure thing I could that was still deemed tasty by anyone who had had it. I didn't want to relive last WBW.
Well, I tried.
Region: Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardia, Italy
Composition: 100% Bonarda
Background: First off, you are probably wondering, what is Bonarda? Well, that's where it gets confusing, right from the start, since there are three different grapes called "Bonarda" for various reasons:
You can find Bonarda Novarese in DOC reds from the Novara and Vercelli areas of Italy, where it is a minor player. This really isn't Bonarda at all but a grape called Uva Rara, and this grape is more widely grown in the Oltrepo Pavese area.
There is also a grape called Bonarda Piemontese found, as you might guess, in Piemonte. This grape is often blended with Barbera, but isn't produced much anymore since it is a pain to grow usefully and was almost wiped out by phylloxera.
Finally, there is the grape called Bonarda used in the Oltrepo Pavese and Colli Piacentini DOCs in the Lombardia region of Italy (an area a bit to the east of Piemonte). As seems to be the case with Bonarda, it isn't actually Bonarda at all, but is a grape called Croatina. This flavor of Bonarda is also actually the most-planted grape in Argentina, more common than Malbec, even though you see the Argentine Malbec far more often.
In Italy, there are only about 10,000 acres (if that) of Bonarda/Croatina planted. It tends to ripen late and produce fruity wine meant to be drunk young, so it doesn't seem to have too much sex appeal for growers or winemakers.
How can we know that this particular bottle of Torti Bonarda is actually Croatina? Well, the only DOC wines called simply Bonarda come from the Oltrepo Pavese and are made from Croatina. This bottle has DOC labelling and is called Bonarda, so we know it is the Croatina grape. The producer, Torti, was started in 1910 and is now run by a father-daughter team, producing a handful of Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) offerings as well as some frizzante wines along with their Bonarda and Barbera.
Notes: In the bad run of luck I have been having, especially when it comes to WBW wines, the bottle was oxidized (the cork had dried wine leaked out at the top, which is never good news). Nothing much on the nose and an unpleasant flatness when you drank it, and a very unpleasant-in-an-acid-and-thats-it-way finish. Dull dull dull. I don't think it was suppised to be like this, the reviews I read mentioned "Zinfandelesque qualities", "intense fruit aroma" and "bright fruit" and nothing like that was in this bottle. Poor thing. I swear, I am going to start examining corks with a magnifying glass before I buy wine. Even if this wine was a little over the hill, it shouldn't have been like this.
Overall: I can't say, since the bottle was oxidized (I need to give up trying to rate flawed wines). DNPIM.
I took the bottle back and it was deemed bad, but I did not risk getting another one... I was not feeling lucky and I examined the couple of bottles left and one, at least, seemed damaged to me (it looked like something had leaked out below the seal on the cork). I got a bottle of local-ish Carignane instead, since I don't often like Carignane and want to see how I feel about this stuff. Anyway, I will report on that later on.