By Justin Taylor
During a recent conversation, I was given the opportunity to treat a customer to wine made from a varietal they had never heard of before, Chambourcin (sham-bor-san). Even after the time I have spent in the wine business, I still get nervous curiosity about wines made from a grape I have not heard of before. An open mind goes a long way in learning about new wines, and the beautiful places they originate from. I used this approach to introduce a visitor from the West Coast to a grape that is grown all over the world, not just the Eastern United States.
A few years ago I gave a tip of the hat to Chambourcin in a larger story on varietals with pigmented flesh, but to distill it down further, let’s look at the wine style it produces each year. Chambourcin is highly resistant to fungal disease when grown in humid climates, with uniquely bright acid and color profiles. The aromas are elegant red fruit characters reminiscent of cherry and raspberry, with a soft tannin profile making for a very easy drinking wine. It can produce a heavy crop load each year in the vineyard, so to coax some of the more interesting attributes out of the grape, managing the tonnage on the vine is paramount.
The geographical footprint will surely surprise anyone in the wine business, as it is planted in Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, France, Portugal, and the United States. From the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast U.S. 13 states currently grow and market wines made from Chambourcin. This amazing diversity can be quite rare for grapes outside of the Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons of the world, which is why I love showcasing the unique character of Chambourcin in our Pea Ridge Red at Parker-Binns Vineyard.
The answer to “Wine and vine” trivia is 300 bottles or 25 cases of wine per barrel. Keep that in perspective the next time you are treated to a view of the cellar in your local winery! The “Wine and vine” trivia for next issue: Who is the patron saint of wine and winemakers?
Justin Taylor is winemaker at Parker-Binns Vineyard, Mill Spring, NC.