by Fred McMillin
for March 10, 1998

Brandborg Charbono


The Brandborg 1993 Charbono was selected to accompany Rose Pistola's crab cioppino when Chef Reed Hearon was invited to NYC to accept the James Beard award for the best new restaurant of 1996.

The Rest of the Story  

Charbono? Brandborg? These are not household words in the wine world, so let's find out more about them. Charbono "Charbono, California's obscure specialty, clings to existence on a handful of acres in the Napa Valley, where, partly thanks to the age of the vines, it can produce characterful concentrated reds." (British expert J. Robinson) "The grapes for our Charbono come from a 70-year-old, ridge-top vineyard on the Napa Valley's Mt. Veeder. The old hill-top vines produce Charbono fruit unmatched by any other vineyard anywhere." (Terry Brandborg) So, to make the best Charbono you need grapes from old, hill-top vines, and Terry's got 'em.

Susan and Terry Brandborg were excited! They were moving into their new home...actually, an old home formerly owned by Old World Italian immigrants. and what was in the basement? A little home winery. Terry began tinkering, and in 1975 made his first wine, a single barrel of Gamay. Ten years later they bonded their basement in Fairfax and Brandborg Cellars bottled 400 cases. Not long after that I remember Terry telling me, that while they would stay small, he and Susan "work hard to produce honest wines that present good value." Their gold-medal Charbono is a fine example.

The Wine

1994 Charbono, Mt. Veeder, Napa Brandborg Cellars, Richmond, CA
Sales—Susan, (415) 453-6104
Tasting Notes—In selecting it for one of her cooking classes not so long ago, my wife said "This Charbono is a food; you can chew it." In any case, the '94 is full of berry and spice, made for hearty dishes.
Price—$15 range  

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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