Winery of the Week
Meet Mr. Charbono
Charbono (shar-BOH-no), a grape of French or Italian origin, makes a pleasing, full-bodied red wine in California."
...Schoonmaker Encyclopedia of Wine
The only California winery to make Charbono consistently has been Inglenook. Its first vintage was the 1882; it has always been made there since."
...Eunice Fried, "The Quarterly Review of Wines"
John Richburg joined Inglenook in 1972, became cellarmaster four years later, and winemaker from 1979 until he left in 1994 to start his own winery. Thus, he had worked with 23 vintages of the grape before departing.
Alas, the Richburg-Charbono bond was doomed with the creation of Bayview Cellars, for the new winery had to produce the best-selling varietals Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. BUT WAIT! The sales list shows a '92 CHARBONO! John simply could not let all that expertise go down the tubes. Among the things he likes about the grape is the fact that "its tannins are relatively soft, making it more pleasant to drink at an early age than Cabernet Sauvignon." Charbono likes the northern part of the Napa Valley, the source of the grapes for this wine... And 1992 was an outstanding year. Add John's experience, and you have a robust red you MUST try...exciting with pesto pasta, $16. Now, more about the winery.
Like John, I have an old bond with Inglenook Charbono. When I bought the 1966 vintage, the winery recommended aging it five to 10 years. I waited five. Then, in one of my wife's cooking classes I served it with a pork and bean cassoulet she had learned in Toulouse. The class gave the combination two thumbs up, according to my dusty old notes.
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