There’s a new Cult wine in Napa Valley, and it isn’t Cabernet.
Did you know that once upon a time, not too long ago, Cabernet actually didn’t reign King in Napa Valley? It wasn’t until the 1990’s that Cabernet surpassed chardonnay as the most widely planted grape, and up until that point, Napa Valley enjoyed a wide variety of grapes we now find in the “other reds and whites” category on the wine list. Over the years, many of those vines have been replanted, but there’s one grape in particular that continues to enjoy a small but mighty cult following and as of late, it appears to be getting stronger. If you haven’t heard of charbono, it’s probably for good reason. With less than 65 acres remaining in Napa Valley, its incredibly small footprint barely makes it out of the state of California. Charbono has a few aliases: Douce Noir, Croatina, and BONARDA as it’s known in Argentina where it enjoys superstar status as the 2nd most widely planted grape commonly blended with Malbec. Only a few vineyards remain and much of what you’ll see is going to be from vineyards in Calistoga like Frediani, Tofanelli, and Shypoke. It won’t be easy to find them, but most are available directly from the winery and can be purchased online. A few options are available via wine.com (depending on state) and Acme Fine Wines, a local retailer in St. Helena that often carries them and ships nationwide.