Tofanelli Family Vineyard Charbono 2009
One of Napa Valley’s oldest wine growing subregions but last to gain appellation status, Calistoga occupies the northernmost section of the valley. Beginning at the foot of Mount St. Helena, its vineyards stretch over steep canyons and roll out onto the valley floor. The soils in Calistoga are volcanic, which means they are heavy in minerals, low in organic matter and allow good drainage for vine roots, creating less green growth and more concentration of flavor within the grape berries.
Summer days are very hot but most nights cool down with moist ocean breezes sneaking in over the Mayacamas Mountains or from Knights Valley to its northwest.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the area’s star variety with Zinfandel coming in a strong second, though the latter commands far less price per tonnage so continues to be outshined by Cabernet in vineyard acreage, save for some important exceptions.
Bonarda is a name given to a handful of distinct grape varieties, mainly growing in Italy and in Argentina. In Lombardy’s Oltrepò Pavese and Emilia Romagna’s Colli Piacentini zones, the grape called Bonarda is actually Croatina. In Novara, Bonarda Novarese, often blended with Spanna (Nebbiolo), is actually Uva Rara. DNA profiling shows that most of the Bonarda in Argentina is actually identical to California’s Charbono—and Charbono is actually the Douce Noire grape from Savoie. Somm Secret—Bonarda Piemontese, an aromatic variety, is the only true Bonarda. Before phylloxera, it covered 30% of Piedmontese vineyard acreage.