Ukiah, California-based Charbay turned its alembic pot stills to crafting this brandy in the winter of 1989. The grapes used are 74% pinot noir and 26% sauvignon blanc. The distillate has since been mellowing in barrels made of oak from France’s Limousin and Nevers regions for 24 years. 22 of those barrels were bottled to make Charbay’s Brandy No. 89, 1000 cases of it.
This slightly overproof brandy has developed nicely, balancing gentle wood character with notes of caramel, banana, coconut, almonds, incense, and cloves on the nose. The body is modest and far from overblown, offering notes of caramel sauce and cigar box, roasted apples, and touches of dark chocolate. There’s quite a bit going on throughout all of this, and while it’s more restrained and nuanced than many powerhouse brandies on the market, No. 89 is well-balanced and refined, growing on you with its easy sweetness and sultry finish as you continue to experience it.
Fun stuff, and proof that America can crank out a brandy just as sophisticated as the French.
A- / $92 / charbay.com
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