Why not take a chance on something new and totally different? That’s what we did and we fell in love with this Old World odd ball. The barrel aging adds lovely bourbon and brown sugar to the Amarena cherry fruit and cracked peppercorn aromas. Tart cherry and blueberry fruit flavors stay lively and bright as the big, tight tannin structure comes in for the 1-2 punch. We might try to throw this wine off its game to see if it can handle spicy fried chicken and waffles or crispy pork belly with kimchi rice.
15 months, French & American Oak (53% new)
Charbono is an ancient grape variety originally brought over by Italian immigrants who settled in Napa Valley. Calistoga has some of the only remaining grapevines known to exist in California. The up-valley location of the Cooke vineyard allows for a long growing season necessary to ripen this thick-skinned grape. The dry-farmed, old vines were planted sometime in the 1970’s from budwood taken from the Inglenook property. Ripening Charbono takes some patience; rarely does the sugar get above 23°Brix which means the resulting alcohol is always below 14%. The inky color belies the moderate tannin level, but the acid levels are bright and energetic making it an excellent food wine. We’ve blended in enough Petite Sirah to flesh out the mid-palate and make the wine a little more user friendly.
The 2016 vintage rewarded Napa Valley with normal rainfall after four consecutive vintages of drought. The grapevines sped right through their annual milestones with an early budbreak. Bloom started early, but May rains extended bloom in most varieties. Scorching heat at the end of June pushed veraison ahead of the 4th of July weekend. Harvest started early for many, however normal yields had us waiting to crush until the end of August. While not a completely leisurely harvest, we thanked Mother Nature for perfectly ripened fruit, happy fermentations and allowing us to be finished picking before 10” of rain arrived in October.