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Robert Foley Vineyards Charbono 2003
Foley Vineyards' new cave and wine facility finished recently on Howell Mountain.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
As far as vineyard area in Argentina, Bonarda comes in second to Malbec. However, DNA profiling shows that what the Argentine people have named as Bonarda, is actually identical to California’s Charbono—and Charbono is actually a grape called Douce Noire from Savoie, a mountainous wine region in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes of eastern France. The Argentine wine called Bonarda is typically linear, somewhat complex and loaded with black fruit. California Charbono is beautifully concentrated in a deep magenta color and presents lively and juicy red fruit, spice and a pleasant grip in the finish.
In Italy, in Lombardy’s Oltrepò Pavese and Emilia Romagna’s Colli Piacentini zones, the grape called Bonarda is not Bonarda at all but instead, Croatina. In Novara, Bonarda Novarese, used to ease the tannins of Spanna (Nebbiolo), is actually Uva Rara. The wines labeled as Bonarda from Oltrepò Pavese are spicy, medium to light bodied and full of both red and black fruit.
Bonarda Piemontese is an aromatic variety that covered 30% of the region before phylloxera. Today it grows sporadically in Piedmont, mainly near Govone. Bonarda Piemontese is actually Bonarda.