Croatina is a red Italian wine grape varietal which is grown primarily in the Oltrepò Pavese region of Lombardy and in the Province of Piacenza within Emilia Romagna. But is also found in parts of Piedmont and Veneto - where it can also be used for the production of Valpolicella wines. In the Oltrepò Pavese, in the hills of Piacenza, in Cisterna d’Asti and San Damiano d’Asti (Province of Asti), and in Roero this varietal is called ‘Bonarda’. But it should not, however be confused with the Bonarda Piemontese, which is an unrelated varietal.
Croatina (which means Croatian girl) is sometimes confused with Bonarda - a grape of Piedmont and particularly common in the territory of Novara - though Croatina has no connection with Piedmontese Bonarda and they are two distinct grape varietals.
It has been found on several occasions that the wines of Oltrepo Pavese and Piacenza areas, where they mentioned Bonarda, they are actually referring to Croatina. This varietal is believed to have its origin in Rovescala, a town in province of Pavia and near Piacenza, where reference of this grape date back since the middle ages. Though the first written records are dated towards the end of 1800s, when Croatina started to be planted in these areas.
The DOCs which allow the use of the Croatina grape include:
Colli di Parma 25% - 40%, Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa 0% - 15%, Colli Piacentini Gutturnio 30% - 45%
Oltrepò Pavese 25% - 65%, Oltrepò Pavese 85% - 100%, San Colombano al Lambro 30% - 45%
Colli Tortonesi 100%, Bramaterra 20% - 30%, Cisterna d’Asti 80% - 100%, Colline Novaresi 0% - 30% Colline Novaresi Croatina 85% - 100%, Coste della Sesia Croatina 85% - 100%
Amarone 0% - 5%, plus other Passimento and Valpolicella style wines up to 30%.
Croatina the grape varietal can produce attractive wines which are good value. Croatina wines are dark in colour, with expressive fruit, low acidity and medium tannin levels that can benefit from time, with similarities with Montepulciano and Dolcetto varietals in aromas and flavours. And on occasion some Croatina wine can be served slightly chilled.
In Lombardy is found in San Colombano al Lambro, the only DOC in the province of Milan. In Colli Piacentini, blended with Barbera and Uva Rara, and is used for the production of the most famous wine of this territory - Gutturnio.
In Oltrepo Pavese, Croatina is used for the production of both table and semi-sparkling wines, with the latter style usually called Vivace, and the semi-sparkling is more common than table wine. Croatina is generally used for the production of wines for immediate enjoyment - therefore having a young and direct character - and typically vinified in stainless steel tanks to express fresh characters.