Shypoke, "Le Corbeau" Charbono 2018
Peter Heitz is a California wine legend. His family vineyard – the Shypoke ranch – dates back to 1904 and has some of the only and last vines of Charbono in the entire country. They're gnarly, crazy old vines that date back to that original founding of the farm in 1904, planted on their original rootstock.
Charbono is a rare, historical "heritage" grape, thought to have been brought to California by 19th-century settlers emigrating from the Savoie region of France; there’s an estimated less than 75 acres in the entire state left. You can count the estates who still grow it on one hand, Shypoke among them. The grape is magical in its ability to be both low-abv and ripe and forward.
Shypoke pays homage to Charbono's French roots with their "Le Corbeau" bottling, limited to a scant eight barrels produced in 2018. At once muscular and subtle, the wine balances deep blue-black fruits and lifted purple floral aromas with plenty of spice, tobacco, and mocha on the polished, grippy finish. You'll love the wine's heady aromas, generous fruit, suave tannins, and tart, peppery mid-palate.
After Prohibition was repealed, Charbono rose in popularity, particularly by the historic Inglenook winery. Wineries – from Bonny Doon Vineyards to Ridge – have long used a generous dose of Heitz’s Charbono as part of their “secret sauce” for years to add that juicy plumpness to their reds. Shypoke's estate vines of Charbono are one of the only places you'll find a strictly unblended, 100% expression of this historical grape.
The San Francisco Chronicle calls it “refreshing antidote to the heavy-wrought polish that afflicts many modern Napa wines. And when it’s aged, the best Charbonos prove that the variety can indeed yield a truly worthy, serious wine, one that can hold onto a core of bright, vibrant fruit for decades while developing layers of texture.”