2014 Tofanelli Family Vineyard, Charbono, Napa Valley.
The super dark and lush 2014 Charbono by Tofanelli shows a layered palate of rich blackberry, boysenberry, plum and fig fruits along with hints of sake, cedar and vanilla before adding a floral tone and licorice element with air. This full bodied red is impressive and polished with an expressive boldness that you can taste, it’s a pure and uniquely Napa wine that adds hints of lavender, violette, cassis/grenadine, tobacco leaf, spicy cinnamon and subtle earthiness. Tofanelli made 10 barrels in 2014 and 20% were new French oak, which you can taste and feel, with the rest in mostly neutral wood, they de-stemmed and hand sorted their Charbono, with the final blend being 85% Estate Charbono and 15% Estate Petite Sirah, with the Petite really showing in the opaque purple in the glass and giving a firm backbone of raw tannin. For those that love Zinfandel, this rare Charbono will certainly appeal and thrill, the grape which is also known as Bonarda, as it is called in Argentina, is thought to be from Northern Italy, or the Savoie region of France, where it is known as Douce Noir, but is very obscure, it was believed to be first mentioned 3000 years ago by the Etruscans and it’s still a rarity in both the old and new world. Tofanelli’s version is one of best in California and this vintage showing the year off to great effect with depth and a polish performance, it has wonderful mouth feel and length.
Tofanelli a long time Napa grower supplied many vintages to top names in the Valley including some legendary stuff made by Turley Cellars, the vineyard which was established back in 1929 has an old vine selection of Zinfandel, Charbono, Sauvignon Musqué, Semillon, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Grenache, Mondeuse Noir and Cinsault. Their heritage vineyard is located at the top of the Napa Valley near the town of Calistoga and is as it always was with no irrigation, all farmed without pesticides to organic principles and these gnarly head trained vines take you back to another era. Vince Tofanelli recognizes that in the Napa Valley, he enjoys a climate that can give his wines incredible concentration, and that he strives to moderate that to achieve a final product that goes with food and has the ability to age, he adds that while he needs to take care as not to make a one dimensional or monolithic wine, he appreciates the hedonistic density his terroir gives. This 2014 Charbono grabs your attention and it certainly it is a full bodied and bold wine, but it is very impressive with a nice complex personality, it is a big wine that delights with more robust cuisine and it should please for the decade ahead.
($40 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive