Uva Rara is a red wine grape native to Italy where it is grown in the Piedmont (Piemonte) and Lombardy (Lombardia) regions.

The name: Uva Rara or ‘rare grapes’ derives from the variety’s extremely sparse or loosely packed bunch, which makes this cultivar practically immune to botrytis and ideal for air-drying.

Where grown Uva Rara is very abundant in Lombardy, especially in the Oltrepò Pavese (see Oltrepò Pavese DOC) in the province of Pavia. In the Oltrepò Pavese, the three highest-quality areas are Rovescala, Buttafuoco, and Casteggio and the Valle di Recoaro around Broni (Barbacarlo); it may also be found, among others, in the DOCs Buttafuoco dell’Oltrepò Pavese or Buttafuoco and Sangue di Giuda dell’Oltrepò Pavese.

Uva Rara is also abundant in northeastern Piedmont and in smaller amounts in the Astigiano and Alessandrino areas. Usually used in blends with other varieties. In Northern Piedmont, the main DOCs where it may be found are: Colline Novaresi, Ghemme, Boca, Bramaterra, Sizzano and others. Monovarietal Uva Rara wines are very rare, but do exist.

Viticulture: Uva Rara is characterized by bunches of various sizes even on the same vine (usually medium-large). A vigorous variety, Uva Rara is resistant to peronospora (downy mildew) but less to oidium (powdery mildew), but is unfortunately very subject to millerandage (apparently more so in the Oltrepò Pavese area than in the Novara/Vercelli area). It ripens very late in the season.

Wine style: A pure Uva Rara wine is bright dark-ruby in color. The aroma is usually very com-plex, with hints of red roses, violet, red, almost black cherries, and raspberries and sweet spices. The wine always comes across as very fresh, high acid, and vibrantly tannic, but it never has much power or structure.

Bibliography

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.215