Mike Trotta developed a fascination with fermentation while studying Microbiology at CSU Northridge and began what would be a fruitful career in wine in 2000 working harvest at Bernardus Winery in Carmel Valley. While he learned traditional Burgundian winemaking methods at Bernardus, he was also exposed to large scale production and progressive techniques during a stint at Yalumba Winery in Australia’s Barossa Valley. Mike went on to become the winemaker at Elyse Winery in Napa where he has been crafting elegant Cabernet, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Chardonnay since 2001. In 2012, Mike and his wife, Wendy, who honed her winemaking skills at Dominus, HdV Wines and Cain, launched their own label appropriately named ‘Eclectic Wines’. After both spending years dedicated primarily to Napa’s king of grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon), Mike and Wendy yearned to make underrepresented varietals (Viognier, Vermentino, Tempranillo and Charbono) more accessible to a wide audience who may be suffering from undiagnosed ‘CCS or Chronic Cabernet Syndrome’! With a minimalist winemaking philosophy of ‘less is more’, the husband and wife team produce single vineyard, food friendly, approachable wines like this robust yet impeccably balanced Charbono that we were thrilled to procure for the wine club! If you’ve never heard of Charbono, it’s likely due to the fact that only 80 acres total are planted to the varietal in California and it is rarely seen outside of the state. We were incredibly lucky to snatch up the very last pallet of this super small production (120 cases total) wine which was love at first scent for us! Dark and brooding in tone, it exudes aromas of inky black fruit as in black currant, blackberry and boysenberry alongside some earthier elements like dried thyme, black licorice and leather. The six months spent in twice used French oak barrels lends softness to the otherwise slightly chewy tannins, yet it does not obscure the fresh acidity and lingering, juicy black fruit notes that flow through to the medium-bodied palate. The finish is long and peppered with more of that savory thyme and leather character, making this an ideal accompaniment for an herb-crusted rack of lamb or coffee-rubbed steak.