2009 Calder Charbono
Calistoga, Napa Valley
- Winemaker Rory Williams
- Appellation Calistoga, Napa Valley
- Alcohol 13.1%
- PH 3.61
- TA 6.1g/Lg/100mLs
- Production 409 cases
One of only a handful of Charbonos produced in the world, this wine has bright fruit, supported by smooth tannins and vibrant acidity. Renowned for its soft richness and buoyant aromatics, Charbono's immediate deliciousness belies its ability to age for decades. Descriptors include bright, vibrant cherry and huckleberry fruit, along with notes of woodspice, cinnamon, fresh herbs, and damp forest floor.
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 late 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.
Winemaking: Despite loving the extreme heat, these 40-year-old, dry-farmed Charbono vines ripen very late and never reach high sugar levels. Respecting this natural restraint, I ferment the grapes in small open-top bins, Pinot Noir-style, punching them down by hand two or three times a day, in order to generate a soft, gradual extraction. Charbono's bright fruit doesn't take well to new oak, so this sees less than 15% new oak (all French) over its 16 months in barrel, before being bottled without fining or filtration.