Many believe the Bonarda grape varietal was brought over to Argentina from Italy by 19th century immigrants, and along with Malbec, it is the most widely planted grape in Argentina. Genuine Bonarda Piemontese is, as the name suggests, a red grape of Piedmont - and which is now somewhat rare in its native Italy.
Experts are divided as to whether Argentine Bonarda is indeed actually Bonarda Piemontese, or Bonarda Novarese (another Piedmont grape also known as Uva Rara) - the confusion is not helped by the fact that there are several other varietals that are sometimes known as Bonarda. Argentina's National Institute of Vitiviniculture is, however clear that the varietal is not Croatina, which is a Lombardy grape, also known as Bonarda Oltrepo Pavese.


Whichever it is, Bonarda was until recently the most widely planted wine grape varietal across Argentina. It has only recently been surpassed by Malbec in planted area. Despite this abundance, it has not traditionally been used to produce varietal wines - being used instead for bulk production of blended table wines - though there are some notable and outstanding exceptions of these styles.
Bonarda wines can be lighter-bodied and fruit driven, full of cherry and plum flavours, with soft tannins and moderate acidity. However with concentrated fruit from older vines, and especially when oak aged, Bonarda wines can also be big, fruit driven, dense and tannic, with a deep colour, plus fig and raisin characteristics. In most Argentine vineyards, Bonarda is one of the last grapes to be harvested each season.
Traditionally, Bonarda from Piedmont, was used as a workhorse varietal. There it performs at its best when blended with the equally fruit driven, but more structured Barbera grape. Bonarda is a perfect match with barbeque meats, pasta dishes, varied pizza's, paté and an antipasti platter with crusty bread.