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At a glance

Country of Origin: France
Region of Origin: Sovoie
Typical Product: Red
Structure: Heavy
Climate: Hot Days - Cool Nights
Soil Type: Well Drained
Serving Temp: 58 - 63F
Ageability: 5 to 10
Blends:
Sauces to Pair:
Meals to Pair:
Other Names*:

Details


Although Charbono is an Italian name, the grape actually hails from the Savoie region of France.  Savoie is one of the most mountainous regions in the country and this type of terrain is where Charbono produces it best results.  The lowest point of Savoie is over 800 feet, and it quickly climbs to Mt. Blanc, the highest point in Western Europe so Charbono is born and bred in the mountains.  Recent genetic fingerprinting proved that California Charbono is identical to the French Varietal, Corbeau that is now extinct.  Adding to the confusion, Italian winemakers have grapes labeled as Charbono but are often actually Barbera or Dolcetto.  There are a number of sources that claim California Charbono and Dolcetto are in fact the same grape but even a cursory look can quickly debunk this theory which has since been disproved by DNA testing. It migrated to the US in the late 1880's but because Italian immigrants brought it, it has retained its Italian name rather than its original French moniker.  According to slowfoodusa.org, there are only 65 acres of Charbono under active cultivation in the US.  The greatest concentration of it is found in Argentina where it is called Bonarda.

Charbono needs heat to achieve it ripeness but typical of many mountain Varietals, it also needs nighttime temperatures to drop significantly to retain any acid needed to give the wine character.  It ripens very late which can causes problems for any one attempting to grow it that is susceptible to an early fall.  Even with California's Mediterranean climate, Charbono often can't be harvested until early November.

Charbono is dark and inky in color but surprisingly is lighter in flavor than it appearance would suggest.  When well made, it carries hints of plum but also hints of leather and smoke giving it an interesting array of flavors for a medium bodied Varietal.

* used in California

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