Aromas of red fruit medley – cherry, currant and raspberry – are ripe and vibrant. The juicy middle is ample and flavorful, lively and framed in natural acidity resolving in a long gentle finish with the finest of tannin. Beautifully balanced. This is a very versatile food wine. Charbono shows a rare combination of thorough ripeness and bright tangy acidity.
Charbono is one of the lost grape varieties – almost. Recent reports indicate there are only about 90 acres of this variety in existence, half of this in Napa county. The original cuttings were imported to Calistoga in the Napa Valley from the Savoie region in the French Alps in about 1880. Its original name was Doux Noir, or “soft black,” later called Charbonneau (carbon water). Subsequently, Charbono was wiped out in Europe by the Phylloxera root louse infestation.
Some believed it to be the Italian grape variety Dolcetto but this was proven not to be the case through genetic testing. After repeal of Prohibition in the U.S., Charbono was used by Inglenook for blending with their new Cask Cabernet wines and small amounts were bottled as varietal wine. I tasted the 1968 Ingle- nook Charbono from cask in 1969 and was inspired to become a winemaker with that taste. 500 cases produced.