Bright and elegant, the 2013 Charbono is an excellent example of what makes this rare, heritage grape so intriguing to me: it has a rich, focused density on the palate that is achieved through aromatic intensity and balancing acidity, rather than high alcohol and overripe flavors. Rich red and black fruits, wet earth, mint, and kirsch aromas all play their part.
History of Charbono
Part of the Slow Food Ark of Taste, Charbono has a long and wending history in California. Only 70 acres remain here, and it is extinct in its native land of France's Savoie. After arriving in the mid-1800s (imported, it is believed, by the same man who provided the famed botanist Luther Burbank with the source material for his gardens), it was alternately mistaken for Pinot Noir and Barbera until the mid-20th century, when Inglenook's John Daniel began making it famous. Some of these mid-century examples still survive, and serve as inspiration for makers of Charbono today, myself included, to whom Charbono stands as a lasting connection to the heritage and history of winemaking in Napa Valley.
1.8 tons of Charbono were harvested on September 5th, 2013. After being destemmed (but not crushed), the Charbono was fermented in two small vessels. Native-yeast fermentation proceeded for 10 days with daily hand punch-downs. After fermentation, the wine was barrelled down and aged, with three rackings, for 30 months in 25% new oak before being bottled in March 2015.