TN '96 Bonny Doon Charbono - Printable Version

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- Karena Shannon - 01-12-1999 12:55 AM

What to have with Cioppino???? Particularly if it’s a rather spicy one, the relatives want red wine, and you don’t have any Beaujolais or rose? We decided on this wine, as the relatives thought it was Italian and I was fresh out of options. (Now, I know this isn’t Italian, but since most of the examples you see nowadays are from former…how do I delicately put this…”Dago Red” properties in California…Hence, into the Italian folder it goes. <wink> )
When we tasted this at the winery a year ago, the aromas were light, and predominantly of cola, plum, and bay. Supposedly, Charbono is Charbonneau, a blending grape now fallen out of favor in S. France, though I remember one oddball account of it actually being a clone of Dolcetto. Whatever…it’s supposed to make a “rustic” red that blossoms into something fairly nice after eight–ten years or so, provided that you are sage (or forgetful) enough to age a cheap red wine that long.
The year of age that we did give it proved immensely useful. The nose was much more effusive, with the aforementioned cola and overripe plum scents, no detectable oak, and a mouthfeel as Jake put it, “like hi-octane Beaujolais.” Despite the high alcohol content (~13.5), the wine didn’t accentuate the heat of the cioppino; it actually worked rather well. Maybe there is something to this Dolcetto thing…
$18 at the winery, but that’s Bonny Doon nowadays and is the reason we’ve stopped buying their wines. Again, like their DEWN Zin and Barbera I’ve posted on before, they’re not worth making an all-out effort to find at these prices, but they’re not bad wines either.

- misterjive - 01-31-1999 03:02 AM

All I could find on Charbono was the following from Robert Joseph:
"Rare, spicily intense variety grown in California by brilliant eccentrics like

As for Bonny Doon, the 100% Sangio is pleasant (Il Fiasco), and the Refosco is definitely something to try.....

- Jerry D Mead - 01-31-1999 08:31 AM

Jancis Robinson, quoting Galet (the French ampelographer)gives the Dolcetto/Charbonneau story, the latter being synonym for the virtually extinct Douce noir (Nevada City winery actually labeled its Charbono that way for a few years, which Galet in turns says is a synonym for Dolcetto Nero.

In years past Inglenook (when it was still a real Napa winery) was almost famous for it and a bit of it sold at auctions even. It was hard as Ken Starr's heart and really showed its best at age 20 rather than 10. John Parducci made a rather more user friendly version, as did Franciscan back when Justin Meyer owned it. I believe Konrad (now Fife) made one too. This is all from memory (not the Galet stuff, but the California history stuff), but I'm usually pretty good at this kind of thing.

I actually still have some very old Inglenook Charbono that someone gave me out of their library. And, I almost forgot, John Parducii started a "Charbono Society" for a while...and one more winery that made it was the now defunct Angelo Papagni down in Madera County.


- Jackie - 02-01-1999 04:51 AM

Topelo's in the Russian River area makes a good Charbono, I believe. It has a smoky flavor. Some of the oak barrels are charred specially for this wine. Nice.