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Uva Rara is a northwestern Italian grape best known as a wine blending partner.

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What Is Uva Rara?

Uva Rara (rare grape) is an Italian red wine grape variety. Contrary to its name, Uva Rara is not limited—the grape is relatively popular in the northwest of Italy. It gets its name from the way the grapes form in loose clusters. Uva Rara is also known as Bonarda Novarese, Bonarda di Cavaglià, Balsamea, Balsamina, Gattinara, Martellana, and Rairon.

What Does Uva Rara Wine Taste Like?

Varietal wines made from Uva Rara grapes are typically medium-bodied with a fresh, aromatic fragrance reminiscent of roses or berries. Uva Rara wines are sweet and low in acidity but can have a bitter finishing taste.

Where Is Uva Rara Grown?

Uva Rara is grown predominantly in northwest Italy in the wine regions of Piemonte (Piedmont) and Lombardia (Lombardy). Uva Rara is permitted in several DOC (denominazione di origine controllata) wines in the region, including:

  • Sangue di Giuda dell'Oltrepò Pavese DOC: Wines in this region can be still or frizzante (semi-sparkling) and must contain Croatina and Barbera grapes. Uva Rara, Pinot Nero, and Vespolina are the permitted blending partners.
  • Colline Novaresi DOC: This region is home to the Uva Rara Colline Novaresi DOC, a varietal wine consisting of 85 to 100 percent Uva Rara. The grape can also be blended with varietal wines featuring Nebbiolo and Vespolina grapes.
  • Sizzano DOC: In Sizzano, the focus is on Nebbiolo, known locally as Spanna. Uva Rara is permitted to be up to 25 percent of the blend and softens Spanna's intensity.
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Uva Rara vs. Bonarda: What’s the Difference?

Uva Rara is known as Bonarda Novarese because it’s widely planted in the Novara hills. It’s also called Bonarda di Cavaglià, after a town in Piedmont. Confusingly, there are several other grapes known as Bonarda:

  • Croatina: The only DOC-recognized Bonarda wine is Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda, made with Croatina grapes.
  • Uva Rara: Widely grown in southwest Italy, this grape is sometimes known as Bonarda Novarese.
  • Bonarda Piemontese: Phylloxera pests virtually extinguished this aromatic grape from Piemonte in the nineteenth century.
  • Charbano: This wine is known as Bonarda in Argentina, where it is the second-most planted grape after Malbec. Charbano is unrelated to any of the Italian grapes known as Bonarda.

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