Let’s talk a little about a reliable French-American hybrid variety that finds itself popular among East coast growers, as well as drinkers like me. The grape variety, Chambourcin, is used in blends and stands tall on its own as a varietal wine here in the Commonwealth. Chambourcin was first introduced by French hybridist Joannes Seyve in 1963. The grape’s true origins and parentage are all but a question mark, as Seyve passed away without leaving much documentation on his serendipitous discovery. What we do know, however, is that at its best, Chambourcin is capable of producing silky smooth, full- flavored wines with lovely deep colors and inviting aromatics.
It is worth noting that these hardy, high yield French-American hybrids, which include popular varieties like Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc, were for the most part created by the French. In the mid 1800’s these varieties were encouraged as part of a government regulated program aimed at identifying vines that were both pest and disease resistant. This was a must following the phylloxera outbreak, which devastated French vineyards in the 1860’s. Most French-American hybrids are resistant to the phylloxera louse, as well as other pests, and adaptable to climatic variations, hence the Mid-Atlantic popularity. Oddly enough, these grapes the French once produced during troubled times are discouraged by the French AOC and only used in their lower grade of wines. All that said, many locals have come to appreciate a well- made wine, whether it is vinified from French-American hybrids or not.
Corcoran Vineyards Chambourcin 2006
This leads me to Corcoran Vineyards, formerly known as Waterford Vineyards, Chambourcin 2006. I have really enjoyed their past offerings, so let’s pop the cork on their most recent release and see what’s inside.
Review: The Corcoran Vineyards Chambourcin 2006 is an easy drinking and expressive wine clocking in at 13% alcohol by volume with a synthetic cork enclosure. Visually, the wine is an attractive and well-defined garnet color with nice fruity aromas and a hint of spice. This light bodied Chambourcin has a splash of Merlot added for complexity and offers notes of cherry, blackberry, spice, and subtle oak flavors. The wine wraps up with a clean medium length finish, yet this is another good Chambourcin offering from Corcoran Vineyards. Enjoy this wine with grilled dishes, chicken, pork, barbeque, or on its very own. Price: $18
Other local Chambourcin wines to seek out in my opinion would be Old House Vineyard's Wicked Bottom - a barrel aged Chambourcin that is one of the winery’s most popular wines. For those seeking out a ‘sweet ending’, try Marterella Winery’s Sweet Nothings – an off dry fruit forward Chambourcin wine with a pinch of sweetness that pairs well with dark chocolate. Yummy!
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