Chambourcin

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A bottle of Chambourcin wine produced by Hopewell Valley Vineyards - one of many New Jersey wineries

Medium-bodied and generously fruity. Displays a strong varietal character with hints of cherries, plums, and raspberries. Enjoy with pasta, pizza, and red meats. Serve at room temperature.

VINTNER'S COMMENT:

I chose to grow Chambourcin vines because it's a wine varietal that's already had a very good track record of growth on the East Coast. It's a hybrid, so it grows relatively well, has a good resistance to diseases, and it's a variety that I got to know here in the US and in the Mid-Atlantic regions its very common. You can make a very good, strong, elegant, powerful, tannic, wine with it - but it can also turn out to be thin and tasteless. So to consistently achieve exceptional quality, I held more wine experiments than with any of our other wines. If you can grow Chianti in your region, it's relatively easy to then produce a quality Chianti wine. Unless of course it gets corked or something wrong happens during the wine making process, and it turns to vinegar, which can both sometimes happen. Than yes, the wine went bad. But usually to no fault of the grape itself. Whereas Chambourcin is a fickle grape, indeed. Learn to get it right and you've got yourself a magnificent wine. But err slightly and disappointment stares at you in the face! I experimented over and over and over to get our Chambourcin just right. But through all that process I now feel a unique accomplishment with this wine, unlike any other red we produce. It can either hold no color, or be deeply vibrant, more than any other wine I've seen. It's a great challenge for a winemaker in that way, I think it's a wine that can really be exquisite if you know what you're doing, and if its grown under the right conditions. Here are Hopewell Valley Vineyards, we're lucky with our soil and microclimate. Both are highly suitable for growing this wonderful French-American hybrid grape. The main challenge for this wine is its tendency to have sort of a vegetative taste, if grown improperly. When not done right, the tannins, skins, and seeds contain a 'green' kind of taste, like vegetables, or more accurately like just plain grass. The only way you can bring out the full aroma and taste of Chambourcin is for the fruit to be well ripened. The grapes require a lot of time to mature, so we leave the grapes on the vine for as long as possible. We really leave it on the vine until past the first frost, after most leaves have fallen. The grape's seed in particular, I think, has to really ripen, and it has a tendency to ripen much later in the season. So even if you have the right sugar level in the grapes themselves, yet the seed isn't ripened enough, you get this vegetable juice, like as if someone squeezed a little bit of kale juice into your grape juice! Some winemakers try even to remove the seeds during fermentation, just to completely avoid the challenge and risk of that grassy taste, but I never tried that myself because I've had success without taking such measures. I think that if you stay patient and let it ripen on the vine, that taste will naturally go away. And also we use a certain type of yeast (sorry, trade secret!) that definitely helps the taste fully improve during the fermentation process. We've been extremely happy with this wine. I know this will sound biased, but I truly don't think I've tried any other Chambourcin that's quite as good as ours. We won the Governor's Cup in NJ, and even the Best of Class in California, competing with all the Chambourcin in the US and abroad. And beyond what the awards say, I'm just plain proud of this wine. When we expand the vineyards, we'll definitely include more Chambourcin vines. Plus it blends exceptionally well with other wines, especially Cabernet. It's also often blended with Bordeaux wines. So its a versatile and elegant wine.

Awards: 

2013:
Silver - Florida International Wine Competition
Bronze - International Eastern Wine Competition  

2012
Bronze - Finger Lakes Wine Competition 
Bronze - International Eastern Wine Competition 

2011:
Bronze - Finger Lakes Wine Competition  
Bronze - Grand Harvest Wine Competition 
Bronze - New Jersey Wine Competition 

2010
Bronze - Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association Wine Competition
Bronze - Finger Lakes Wine Competition  
Bronze - Grand Harvest Wine Competition

2009:
Governor's Cup for Grape, Best Hybrid, Best Estate Wine - NJ Wine Competition
Gold & Best of Class - LA International Wine & Spirits Competition
Gold - Finger Lakes Wine Competition
Bronze - National Woman's Wine Competition
Bronze - International Eastern Wine Competition 

2008:
Gold & Best of Class - LA International Wine & Spirits Competition
Silver - New Jersey Wine Competition  
Bronze - Finger Lakes Wine Competition

2007:
Silver - New Jersey Wine Competition  

2005:
Silver - New Jersey Wine Competition 

2004:
Silver - New Jersey Wine Competition