the wine list l BY KATHY CASTEEL
The Old Guard Carne Humana offers a rich blend of old-vine reds. In this season of tradition, enjoy the flavors of Napa Valley’s signature old-guard varietals at your table JDB Wines’ Carne Humana is a proprietary blend of six old-vine grapes sourced from vineyards in the upper Napa Valley. Primarily Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah, the blend also includes Zinfandel, Syrah, Charbono and Cabernet Sauvignon. The resulting deep ruby wine has an intense aroma of dark berries and Bing cherries. The rich flavor carries a taste of cherries, raspberries and chocolate with an undercurrent of blackberries that brings a promise of sweetness cut by firm tannins. The bold structure and balanced acidity give the wine depth; the oaky finish lingers. This is a meat-lover’s wine. Serve it with grilled meats and hearty beef dishes. The old-vine reds and heritage varietals that thrive in the gravelly loam soils and warm Napa Valley climate contribute to a unique complexity and rich texture in the Carne Humana blend. Each grape
INSIDE COLUMBIA NOVEMBER 2014
brings its own characteristics to deepen the wine’s complexity: Petit Verdot has firm tannins and violet notes; Petite Sirah offers structure, inky color and chocolate flavor; Zinfandel brings lively acidity, dark red fruit and blackberries to the blend; from Syrah comes peppery spice; Cabernet Sauvignon adds a taste of cherries, plums and blueberries, along with structure and tannins; Charbono, a scarce heritage grape, gives the blend jammy blackberry and smooth plum notes. The unusual mix of varietals is not the only innovation for this blend. Rather than create each component from separate lots and combine before bottling, Carne Humana was co-fermented and barrel-aged as a single lot for greater integration. The wine was aged in a combination of new and seasoned French oak barrels for 18 months. Carne Humana is available through Copper Cane Wines & Provisions. Look for it at your favorite local wine shop.
The macabre name emblazoned on the label of Carne Humana wine is steeped in Old Guard tradition. Before there were vineyards in California’s Napa Valley, there was a wilderness occupied by the Wappo Indian tribe. In 1841, the Mexican government granted more than 17,000 acres to English physician Edward Turner Bale, a tract that stretched the length of the upper Napa Valley. Some say the grant was in gratitude for Bale’s services as a surgeon in the Mexican army; others say the army’s general, Mariano Vallejo, had had enough of the colorful Englishman’s antics and simply wanted to get rid of him by banishing him to the north. In any event, Bale and his wife — Gen. Vallejo’s niece — built an adobe home on the land he christened Rancho Carne Humana (Spanish for “human flesh ranch”). Bale’s choice of names is a mystery — whether it was a reference to his surgical skills or the fear that the nearby Wappo might be cannibals, no one knows. Bale lived only a few years after becoming a landowner. He joined the Gold Rush in the late 1840s but died of stomach cancer before he found any riches. His widow and six children were left in financial straits but they hung on to their land. Bale’s daughter Caroline and her husband, vintner Charles Krug, planted grapes on their tract near present-day St. Helena. Krug made the first commercial wine in Napa County in 1858. He founded Charles Krug Winery in 1861, the oldest operating winery in Napa Valley.