The Chambourcin grape came to my attention in the 1990s when I was commuting between Bucks County and Paris as well as the wine regions of California. It was my practice to bring American delicacies to the tables of my Parisian friends among which were both California rice and American wines.
Eric Miller winemaker at Chadds Ford suggested the Chambourcin as an example of East Coast wine. I’ve been bringing zinfandel’s from California and wanted something different. It was at the table of my friends: Nicole and Alain Faure, a long evening dinner at their home with friends on Rue du Four, sixth district, that we opened a bottle of Chadds Ford Chambourcin.
My friend to be, Phillipe Pichat mentioned that he was not aware of wine production in the mid-Atlantic. He mused that considering the excellence of the agriculture on the East Coast, he should not be surprised. As he tasted the Chadds Ford wine and remarked: “I have learned something”. The Pichat family maintained vineyards in France themselves.
This is the beginning of a continuing story of the character in the vines. And how life in the Vineyards extends to the East Coast.
All of which came to mind as I worked in the Bitner vineyards in Idaho and considered the regional nature of American wine in light of back to back drought seasons in the Western states including light snowfalls and the lack of full whitecaps in the Rocky Mountains and the sight of nearly empty lakes and reservoirs below from the commercial flights.
As the climate changes, so will agriculture. Both in technique and location. Setting atop one of the worlds great aquifers Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are uniquely positioned for existing changes.
My thoughts returned to the Chambourcin grape which tends to be a late harvest. To consider the harvest against the East Coast autumn leaves was the visual I chose to begin the site and essay. The kindness of the Forrest family and Buckingham Valley Vineyards offered me an opportunity to create photos of remarkable grapes in that context. I want little more time ion behalf of the Forrest family and they are in the next blog post during harvest. Let me just say that Buckingham Valley Vineyards began entirely with their efforts. What you see is their work, love, heart & hands.
And so we are on the same page, a little bit about the Chambourcin grape itself. It’s a French-American hybrid particularly well-suited to the climate of the mid-Atlantic coast. Although only available since 1963, it has thrived …the bastard child of French American origin – its exact parentage uncertain. Very American. We should embrace it.
A beautifully dark sweet grape, capable of great aroma both in the wine and on the vine, capable of producing a beautiful dark dry red not dissimilar to European standard varieties. In recent years, Chambourcin, although hybrid, has had a remarkably similar response to Vinifara techniques. Therefore a companionable grape to Atlantic Coast vineyards producing old world style wines.
As with all art, a thought occurs, stirs the heart, and effort upon effort is made until there is something to share. “Madams and Monsieur’s, may I present the work of art.”:
The Chambourcin’s from Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Bucks County Pennsylvania USA.
A visually beautiful grape. Do take some time looking, before we continue on the the wine.
Twenty years back, Phillippe Pichact tasted the Chambourcin and said: “I have learned something.”
With a bit of luck some hard work and some feed back … that is where we are going with this.
Yes, it is a journey. Not as a cliche but rather a series of experiences that begin to fit. & form lovely patterns.
PLEASE VISIT CHAMBOURCIN 2, posted in thread Character in the vines & tastefully cheeky
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