We recently celebrated the 40th wedding anniversary of friends with a dinner party. One of the guests, a wine collector, brought a 40-year-old bottle of Inglenook Charbono to celebrate the affair.
The bottle of 1968 Inglenook Charbono was decanted and allowed to sit one hour. After tasting the Charbono, we agreed that the wine was still fruity but maybe a little flat but that was okay because it was the thought that counted. What a great way to toast our friends with a wine from this famous Napa Valley winery made the same year as our friends were married. The bottle of wine also stimulated much conversation about the great days of Inglenook and the Charbono wine varietal.
Inglenook was one of the great Napa Valley wineries of the early years, producing legendary wines particularly Cabernet Sauvignon. Inglenook was sold in 1969 to the Heublein Corporation and that began the eventual demise of the premium wines of Inglenook. Thanks to Francis Ford Coppola and his “Godfather” movies, the famed Gustave Niebaum Inglenook property was rescued. Today visitors come and gaze and tour this incredible beauty that Coppola has renamed Rubicon Estate.
As far as Charbono, the variety is alive and well in the Napa Valley. There are only 80 acres of Charbono in California with half of those located near Calistoga. The Charbono grape is likely to be Italian in origin. As far we know there are only three wineries in the Napa Valley making a Charbono: Summers Estate Wines, August Briggs Winery and On the Edge Winery. We tasted the Summers Charbono wine and it is a lovely food-friendly wine. The alcohol content is just a tad higher than the 1968 Inglenook, 13.2 vs. 12%. The Summers Estate Charbono is soft and elegant and a reminder of the past.