Coturri Charbono 2004
Coturri Charbono 2004 Ñ Ergo Sum
Occasionally when looking at a wine to select, I'll find a varietal that I don't know well -- or possibly completely unknown. It's hard to pass up an opportunity to broaden my experience and Coturri Charbono 2004 is a great example of why it's a practice well worth following.
Charbono ("char-BO-no") is a rare varietal, a bold and powerful red wine that might have originated in the Savoie region of France and might be the same as the Dolcetto grape in the Piemonte region of Italy. Charbono wine has been produced and labeled as such in California since the 1880s.
Coturri Charbono comes from two acres of Testa Vineyards in Mendocino county. Only 200 cases are produced per year, meaning that you might well find that your restaurant server or wineseller has not tried it. That was the case when I took a couple of clients to Due Amici.
Charbono is very pleasant visually, very dark, purple in color, and almost opaque. Even so, it's not nearly as powerful as might be imagined. The aroma is plummy, but perhaps not like other plummy wines you've tried before; the official tasting notes suggest that based solely on aroma, it might be mistaken for a white.
Pairing food with Charbono isn't difficult. My associates and I all had some sort of pasta; I had a tomato-based sauce with mine and found it complementary. Neither the wine nor the sauce overpowered the other. Despite the wine's obvious quality, it wasn't horribly expensive; even in the restaurant, it was $39 per bottle. I thought it delicious.