Weekly Wine Quiz #94: Grape Trivia – You Say Bonarda, I Say Charbono
The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…
Welcome to the summer time (for those of you in US – and no, don’t worry, I didn’t say “summer”, it is only a day saving time) and your new wine quiz!
We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is the red grape called Charbono, also known as Bonarda, and … wait for it … Douce Noir!
If we are looking for the grape with the most confusing story of its origin, this well might be the winner. For the long time Bonarda, which is how the grape is known in Argentina, was considered to be the same as Bonarda Piemontese, the red grape from Piedmont in Italy. Charbono, which has almost the cult status in California (not in term of prices, but in terms of availability), even today is written up on some wine sites as “unique California grape of unknown origin”, however it was considered to be brought to California by Italian immigrants as Barbera. To complete the round of confusion, Douce Noir, a nearly extinct variety in France with only 5 acres planted today, was considered to be related to Italian Dolcetto (Douce in French and Dolce in Italian both mean sweet).
Douce Noir became known in France in Savoie region at the very beginning of the 19th century, and by the end of 19th century, it was the most planted grape in Savoie. It is also known in Jura under the name of Corbeau, which means “crow”, as the grape often has a shiny black color. About 15 years ago, based on DNA research it was established that both Bonarda and Charbono are in reality are Douce Noir grape!
Douce Noir is a very late ripening variety, it ripens after the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is known to have a very think black skin and has very high phenolic content, as well as high acidity, so it is capable of producing deeply flavored and concentrated red wines. It is found that the grape produces the best results in the areas where there is a substantial difference between day and night temperatures. While it is hard to find in France, the grape grows plentiful in Argentina (yes, as Bonarda). The plantings in California are small (less than 50 acres), but the resulting wines are quite unique and equally hard to find due to the very limited production.
And now, to the quiz!
Q1: True or False: Bonarda is one of the 30 most planted red grapes in the world?
Q2: These are some of the grapes growing in Argentina. Sort this list by the area plantings in the descending order:
b. Cabernet Sauvinon
c. Criola Grande
Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why?
b. Bonny Doon
c. Robert Foley
d. Mount Palomar
Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines with 90-94 ratings “Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style”. True or False: There are no Charbono wines rated as Outstanding by Wine Spectator.
Q5: True or False: From year 2000 to 2010, plantings of Bonarda in Argentina have increased by more than 20%
Bonus: have you ever had Charbono wines (talking specifically California here)? What do you think of them?
Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!