The newest winery in Delaware is showing that they can craft outstanding wines that will cause wine enthusiasts to ponder, “This was grown in Delaware.” One of the stars of the portfolio are wines made with Chambourcin. The grape is popular along the central and northeast coast onto Ontario and Quebec. This French hybrid is on the decline in France. According to the book, Wine Grapes in the 1970s there were 8,000 acres of Chambourcin planted in France. Although the average has declined in France, eastern United States and Canada winemakers are embracing this grape that tolerates the humidity in the east.
We had an opportunity to taste some of the Chambourcin wines in tanks and barrels at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Delaware. The winery is unique in that its vineyards cross the border and are in Maryland and Delaware. The Chambourcins, although not bottled yet, are wonderful. Our first tasting was an unoaked blend of Chambourcin 60%, Landot Noir 20% and Noiret 20%. Landot Noir is also a French hybrid variety while the Noiret is an American hybrid varietal grape. The color grabbed my attention first. The wine was an opaque dark ruby to purple color with a light ruby-pink rim. The wine offered fruit including raspberries and a unique aroma and taste that reminded me of cutting and sanding cherry wood. Our second Chambourcin was made with 100% Chambourcin and was lightly oaked with oak chips in a stainless steel tank. It too had the ruby to purple color. The wine offered raspberry notes with hints of leather. Both of the wines tasted were 2014 vintage.
Our third wine was a 2013 Chambourcin. This 100% Chambourcin is aging in new Pennsylvania oak barrels. It was a very dark ruby to purple color. The wine reminded me of dark fruits including cassis, spices and tobacco. It had tannins and a long aftertaste. This Chambourcin will certainly pair well with many foods. For a treat we tasted a fortified Chambourcin. The grapes were chaptalized to raise the sugar level and potential alcohol to 18%. A yeast strain was used that can tolerate higher alcohols. The 18% alcohol fortified wine had raspberries and chocolate on the aroma and taste. It could be your dessert.
Kathy and I tasted the wines with owner Chuck Nunan and winemaker Milan Madjan. Chuck and Milan wanted us to taste their Meritage blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They have hit another homer with this wine. The color was dark purple to black and offered black fruits and bold tannins.
Although the wines we tasted are not bottled yet, they are certainly predictive of quality and what the Delaware/Maryland terroir has to offer at its best. Harvest Ridge Winery is a wonderful winery to visit. Plan to spend some time at their wonderful facility in Marydel.