The oldest is Bonarda Piedmontese. This is an aromatic variety, now near extinction but which once rivaled Barbera and Nebbiolo in the vineyards of western Piedmont. Although quite capable of producing distinctive wines of good quality, it was replanted only sparsely after the phylloxera epidemic of the 1880s. This is most likely because Bonarda Piedmontese vines offered only very low yields, and winegrowers at that time took a pragmatic, economic approach as they sought to re-establish their vineyards.
The other two Bonarda vines are also from northern Italy, and both are currently used in the Po Valley. Here it is mostly known as Croatina – its name refers to its origins in Croatia – although it has often gone under the name 'Bonarda' in southern Lombardy, most notably in the Oltrepo Pavese DOC. There are now even varietally labeled Oltrepo Pavese Bonarda wines, including a sparkling frizzante version, made from Croatina. Croatina is also used slightly further down the Po Valley, in the Colli Piacentini hills of western Emilia-Romagna.
Uva Rara is the third Italian 'Bonarda' grape, also known as Bonarda Novarese. (After Novara, a Piedmontese town located just south of Lake Maggiore.) Like Croatina, Uva Rara is used in Oltrepo Pavese wines, but goes under its Uva Rara title. As suggested by its name, Uva Rara was once a rare vine here, although it is now one of the key red varieties around Pavia.
The majority of Bonarda grapes grown in the world are planted in Argentina, rather than Italy. Here, the grapes are used both in blends (often with the Argentine icon Malbec) and in varietal wines. The Argentine version of Bonarda is also known as Charbono, which has itself been confused with various varieties.
Popular blends include: Bonarda - Malbec.
Food matches include:
Europe: Milanese veal chop (cotoletta alla Milanese) (still); prosciutto di Parma (frizzante-style)
Asia: Beef and black bean stir-fry (still)
Americas: Quesadilla (still); deep-fried beef turnovers (empanadas de pino) (still)
Australasia/Oceania: Barbecued lamb chops with minted peas (still)