Wine Recommendation
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Wine Recommendation

Wine: Pacific Star Winery 2000 Charbono  (Mendocino County)

Pacific Star Winery

2000 Charbono
(Mendocino County)

There are few winemakers as devoted to Charbono as Sally Ottoson, owner and winemaker of Pacific Star Winery in Fort Bragg, CA. In fact, her earnest dedication to the planting of more acreage of this once popular blending variety earned her the title “Queen of Charbono.” She tells us that the name is derived from the Latin “Carbonarius” which means “make of wood coal.” As one would expect, the wine is inky dark, the color you would see under your bed at night, if you could actually see under your bed at night. The grape is a native of the Piedmonte region of Northern Italy and the Savoie region of Eastern France. The Calfornia Charbono has been DNA matched to the French variety Corbeau, aka Charbonneau. Less than 50 acres of this variety, which Italian immigrants brought with them, exist in California today.

Charbono has a deep rich color, ample tannin and adds great middle “fat” and flavors to anything with which it is blended -- Sally uses it in her Coro wines (see Thom Elkjer’s review of the 2003 Pacific Star Coro). However, here, Charbono shines on its own.

Charbono rewards the patient wine drinker: I almost felt like I was cradle-robbing with this one, but it quickly showed who was the boss. This 2000 vintage has earthy, meaty and herbal aromas, with a mysterious component that reminded me of Swiss chard. It is very intense and brooding, with a hint of roasted beets and cloves on the nose as well. On the palate, it is plenty complex, with peppered bacon, roasted plums, Australian licorice, cloves and dried cherries; even a hint of tarragon. It has a solid, long-lasting finish of espresso, with sufficient tannin to arm-wrestle the heartiest fare, like slow-cooked short ribs, elk stew or spicy cassoulet. This is truly a Paul Bunyan of a wine: big, brawny, and just a bit sweaty, but in a very appealing way. Go ahead, you owe it to yourself to experience this amazing wine.

(Alc: 13.1%, Retail: $24)

Reviewed July 20, 2006 by Laura Ness.

Other reviewed wines from Pacific Star Winery


The Wine

Winery: Pacific Star Winery
Vintage: 2000
Wine: Charbono
Appellation: Mendocino County
Grape: Charbono
Price: 750ml $24.00

Review Date: 7/20/2006

The Reviewer

Laura Ness

A wine writer and wine judge for major publications and competitions around the country, Laura Ness likens wine to the experience of music. She is always looking for that ubiquitous marriage of rhythm, melody, and flawless execution. What is good music? You know it when you get lost in it. What is good wine? It is music in your mouth.