The Honest Pour with John Lenart

Taking you beyond the bottle.


March 2017

Episode 17, Robert Fanucci, Charter Oak, Winemaker and Owner

Charter Oak Winery is a gem of Napa Valley. Like many other wineries in the valley it began as a small family operation. While it’s grown since its founding in the early 20th century by Italian immigrant Guido Ragghianti, Charter Oak is still family run, by Guido’s grandson Robert Fanucci, who continues to use much of Guido’s original equipment and techniques today. The tiny winery is located in a house, just off of Highway 29, at the end of Charter Oak Avenue, in St. Helena. It’s a place I highly recommend you visit and get to know Robert, his world renown artist wife Layla, and their delicious wines.

Rob in Cellar old

 Robert Fanucci, in the cellar of Charter Oak


COW Roberto 14_trans-web2014, Charter Oak, Roberto Fanucci, Zinfandel

Pretty, almost delicate ruby color. Nose of fresh raspberries, rose petals and a hint of smokiness. On the palate fresh red berry flavors are backed up by hints of tobacco, spices and black pepper. Balanced acid makes for a long mouthwatering finish.


SPR: $50



2014 Zinfandel Mind_WEB2014, Charter Oak, Zinfandel Mind, Estate Zinfandel

Vibrant color, a touch purple. A bright spicy nose leads to aromas of blueberry and violet. The fruit forward flavors of this medium full bodies wine feature blue and dark red fruit with bold, balanced tannins, and harmonious acidity.


SPR: $60


COW Matilda 14_trans-web2014, Charter Oak, Matilda

Bright garnet color without being extracted. A nose of currant and cranberry, and earthiness. Fresh red fruit flavors are balanced by bright acidity, silky tannin finishing with a hint of green bell pepper. The luxurious mouth feel, high acidity and delicious complexity make this wine scream to be served with food.


SRP: $75



COW Monte Rosso 14_trans-web

2014, Charter Oak, Monte Rosso Zinfandel

Sadly this is the last vintage of Monte Rosso that will be made by Charter Oak. The bright ruby color of this wine is a bit delicate and very pretty. The bright spicy nose leads to fresh red fruit. Flavors of cherry, strawberry, fresh herbs make for a very elegant zinfandel. Complex and integrated acid and tannin make for a lovely wine.


SRP: $75


COW Guido 14-WEB1

2014, Charter Oak, Guido Ragghianti, 

A deep ruby color that’s very bright. The nose starts with notes of blueberry, leather and pepper. Flavors of dark fruits, think bing cherry, blueberry, and black currant are backed up by spiciness, great acid and tannin, making for a wine with lots of finesse.


SRP: $75



Uncle George 13 w_web

2014, Charter Oak, Uncle George, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap

Delicate garnet color. This wine announces itself to your nose saying “Hello, I’m Napa cabernet!” Classic nose of red fruit, baking spices, a bit of mint.  Big bold flavors of fruit are backed up with gripping tannin and ripping acid. This one is enjoyable now but will improve greatly and become more integrated over the next 10 years.


SRP: $145


Episode 16, Chris Howell, Wine-Grower/General Manager Cain

Chris Howell is a wine grower who marches to his own beat. Many of his practices vary from just about any other winery in Napa valley. Relying more on blending than single grape varieties, multi-vintage blends, even using brettanomyces, the yeast strain often feared by others, Howell’s wines are unique, thought provoking, and truly expressions of  his philosophy about what makes great wine.  I enjoyed our interview so much this episode runs a little longer than most. Be patient though, what Howell has to say is worth listening to.

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Cain 0026Chris Howell, Wine-Grower/General Manager Cain

1996 Cain Five (Hi-Res) Label Image

1996, Cain Five

This wine still shows a lot of youthful color. Medium Garnet, with just a hint of brick around the rim. The nose is lively with integrated notes of red berries, earth, and cocoa. Flavors of red berries are backed up by bright acidity and silky tannins with a hint of baking spices on the long elegant finish.

SRP: $320 on the secondary market


Cain-Cuvee-NV12-bottle2012, NV12 Cain Cuvée

Very pretty, but not quite delicate garnet color. An earthy nose shows violet, mushrooms and a bit of funkiness. The lush, velvety texture leads to flavors of cassis, raspberry, leather, and cocoa, finishing fine acid and tannins. This is the Bordeaux lovers Cali wine!

SRP: $36




Cain-Five-2012-bottle2012, Cain Five

This wine shows a fresh, vibrant youthful garnet color. The complex nose presents violets, juniper, and a touch of green peppercorns. Flavors of fresh currant and blackberry integrate harmoniously with earthy notes of forest floor. Fine smooth tannins lead to a long thought provoking and graceful finish.

SRP: $125





2012, Cain Concept

This wine shows a star bright, deep ruby color. Aromas of ripe red fruit lead to a bit of herbs. Flavors of bright fresh cherries and cocoa, lead to earthy notes of mushrooms. A touch reductive at this time. Decant for an hour or more before drinking this finessed, lovely wine.


SPR: $75

Episode 15, Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines

Steve Matthiasson is what I call the anti-Napa, Napa winemaker. More farmer than winemaker, Matthiasson looks beyond cabernet and chardonnay, also growing ribolla giala, refresco, scioppettino, and tocai fruliano. He is always looking for what grows best on his land. His farmer’s mindset leads to wines of restraint and elegance.

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SteveM       Steve Matthiasson, Matthisson Wines


MattChard2014, Matthiasson, Linda Vista Chardonny

Bright pale yellow with a touch green hue. Aromas of green apple, grapefruit, and creamy cheese rind. The tart apple flavor gives way to lime and structured minerality and bold acidity, finishing with cream fraiche and a long complex finish


SRP: $29



Mattwhite2013, Matthiasson, Napa Valley White Wine

This blend is made with sauvignon blanc, ribolla gialla, and tocai friulano. It’s shy nose shows stone fruit, lime zest and sour cream. Lean flavors of pear, apricot, lime zest, pineapple, hay,  and bees wax provide a complex flavor with a touch of bitterness on the finish.


SRP: $40




2013, Matthiasson, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This medium garnet colored wine presents aromas of currant, red flowers, and a bit of green olive. The flavor of this full bodied yet elegant wine start with cranberry with layers of blackberry, ripe dark cherry. cola, cocoa, and graphite. The papery tannins, are backed with good acidity and minerality. You can drink this wine now but waiting five years or more will yield pleasing results.


SRP: $60

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