Domestic Selection: Charbono, 1979. Inglenook-Napa Valley

Note: Please do not confuse the wine maker Inglenook-Napa Valley with the jug wine maker Inglenook-Navale.

Founded in 1879, the Ingle­nook-Napa Valley winery was the hobby of the great seaman Gustave Niebaum.

Not only a diligent student, re­ceiving his ships papers by attend­ing merchant marine school in Fin­land, he was a brilliant businessman. At age 22, Gustave petitioned the Czar of Russia and received exclusive rights for fur trading in Alaska. This strategic move founded the Alaska Com­mercial Company from which he amassed a large fortune. This money is what he used to found Inglenook-Napa Valley and pursue his dream and hobby of winemaking.

Inglenook-Napa Valley has a rocky though illustrious history. Founded in 1879, it is one of the few wineries that survived prohibi­tion and to this day the 1933 Ca­bernet Sauvignon is a rare collec­tors’ item. In the mid-1960’s, suffering from low capital and health problems, the family sold the winery to bulk wine makers, Allied United Vintners. Allied was unprepared to handle specialty products and quickly adopted a bulk wine mentality and turned the winery on a downswing. Shortly thereafter, Allied sold the winery to another large organization Heublien Incorporated. Heublien’s first objective was to re-establish the bulk wine business to increase cash flow and then focus on the Inglenook-Napa Valley premium wines. Ten years after Heublien’s purchase of the winery, this 1979 Centennial Charbono was pro­duced to mark the resurgence of the Inglenook-Napa Valley premi­um wine varieties (Charbono has been grown at the Inglenook Win­ery since 1880).

Charbono is of indistinct Ital­ian origin. Producing big red wines of Barbera nature, good vintages can age from 15 to 20 years.

Our selection is a twelve year old example of how Charbono ages. The color is a gorgeous brick red, rather dark considering the wine’s age. The nose is inviting with roasted coffee, berries, lico­rice, and earth tones all laced to­gether. The body is still quite heavy with plenty of fruit and character. The roasted coffee and berries come through nicely. It fin­ishes dry with an aftertaste that longs for food.

Serve at room temp with crab cioppino, spaghet­ti, game meats or beef.

Cellaring Notes: Delicious now through mid 1992.

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