Over the last few weeks I’ve been busily working on research for a wine list that I am designing. While that has kept me away from writing new articles, it has also reminded me of some great material to talk about when I get back to my normal schedule.
One such wine is the Californian red, Charbono. Also known as Bonarda in Argentina, this grape originates from the generally unheard of region of Savoie in France. Fans of big, dense reds like Petite Sirah and Australian Shiraz will love this wine for its concentration and heft. Last year I featured two of them (click here for the link), and today I have two more lined up. The grape tends to pop up in a variety of locations, with the previous two I covered coming from Napa Valley and Temecula, and the two that we are about to discuss coming from Lodi and Mendocino. Wherever you may find it, the search will most likely be well rewarded.
Wine #1: River Bluff Cellars 2005 Lodi Charbono
Chocolate covered blueberries and black cherry tones introduce the nose of this wine. Soft notes of sassafras, vanilla, and coffee beans mix with hints of English toffee and oak-based caramel.
Dusty, dense, and very rich, the palate is incredibly smooth and plush from the first sip. Welling with complexity, notes of blueberries, chocolate, caramel, and toffee dominate the core, while a subtle earthiness appears in the background. Deliciously balanced and multi-dimensional with a lasting finish, this is easily a wine…
Worth Buying. 91 points.
Wine #2: Milano 2005 Mendocino “Hidden Hawk Ranch” Charbono
Fig, poached plums, and mixed berry reduction introduce the nose with lots of mixed spice tones showing in the background. Allspice, cinnamon, burnt anise, black peppercorns, and a smoky note of burnt caramel and stone unfold with some further exploration. A spin in the glass reveals yet another layer of complexity with a hint of dried floral tones. Extremely complex, rich, and deliciously enticing, this is a very inviting wine.
Deep, ripe, and complex on the palate, notes of spice, juicy berry tones, caramel and mocha tones show initially. Hints of vanilla and dried flowers then unfold in the background. This is an incredibly rich wine, but its bright acidity cuts through its weight and gives it great balance. Almost like a dry Portuguese red, this is an awesome wine with pleasantly dusty tannins, bold flavors, and awesome complexity.
Worth Buying. 93 points.
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The Grapevine: What’s your favorite “under the radar” red?