Two days ago I was writing a message to my favorite superfast gentleman – Samuel Trepanier. I immediately thought it would be so great to have a wine like him – classy, gentle, intriguing but also strong, fast and mature. Stylish, speaking French and sometimes with the smell of the leather jacket…
I went to my little cellar and I saw a bottle in a second row. „Let’s try,“ I told myself. I opened the bottle and… O yeah… It was Him… Absolutely.
His name was Chamby. Monsieur Chamby. Do you know Him too?
We met some time ago. Travelling among New Jersey vineyards I came to Bellview Winery in Landisville. That moment our love began–mine and Chamby’s.
Next time I will surely tell more about Bellview, because it is really great winery, producing wine from over 20 estate grown varietals and making a wide range of bottles–from easy-drinking party wines to remarkable, handcrafted gems. Bellview is now led by Jim Quarella: the fourth generation of the first owners, Angelo and Maria, who emigrated from Italy and purchased a small farm in South Jersey.
Bellview vineyards are located within Outer Coastal Plain AVA (American Viticultural Area), which is among 200 other AVA’s in all US. Outer Coastal Plain AVA has very similar terroir (soils and climate) to the Bordeaux Left Bank and produces wines, remaining this French region. One of the signature wines from ACP AVA is Chambourcin, sometimes called here „Chamby“.
Chambourcin is a hybrid, developed in France in the 1950’s by Joannes Seyve. It’s one of the most popular hybrids in France, planted mainly in the Loire and Nantes regions. It has some common features with Cabernet Franc: cherry and pepper flavors, low tannins and relatively high acidity. Chamby is also one of the last grapes to be picked during the harvest season.
I tasted two vintages of Bellview Chambourcin: 2013 and 2014.
2013–more sophisticated, more mature. It got Silver Medal at San Fransisco Chronicle Wine Competition in 2016 and Silver Medal at Finger Lake International Wine Competition in 2016.
2014–more fruit, but not jammy and dense fruit, as in many Californian wines. Let’s say it’s French fruit. And personally I prefer that one.
Chamby is not the same all the time. It changes in 5-6 years, so it‘s a really good idea to let him wait a moment in a cellar and taste the next bottle later.
Drinking Bellview Chambourcin now–in 2017– you definitely find berries, cherries, a little bit of sage and thyme and smooth hints of oak: it rested in American oak barrels for 24 months. It was bottled on 1/3/2017 and, in my opinion, will be great until 2022-2023 if kept in good conditions. The level of alcohol is 12,5 %. It’s medium-bodied wine, you will not find pumped muscular creature in this bottle. The residual sugar is 0g/100ml, what means Chamby is your ideal partner if you like a little bit of acidity in your relationship. Like me.
I love complexity in this wine. From one side– it is gentle, elegant wine with soft, smooth tannins and mix of subtle fruit: raspberries, strawberries, cherries and plums with a hint of chocolate in the finish. From the other side–Chambourcin is dark, strong, smelling tobacco, smoke and leather. It fits many dishes: hard cheese, pasta with tomato sauce, pizza, meatballs. It’s great with chocolate. Try a sip of Chamby with dark Lindt chocolate–and you will find what „poetry“ means.
For me, Bellview Chamby is perfect. It can substitute an ideal partner if you are single for a while. It is strong – but not too strong; A little bit dark–which can be very intriguing; Smells with leather and smoke–like fast Superbike racers; Has a rich flavor–but not too rich; Tastes great and you can use it in various situations; It’s mature yet still very funny. Besides: it has a French name and origin. And it’s a real gentleman.
You just don’t need anything else. Until you find Somebody else, of course.
*title image: Samuel Trepanier by Alejandro Brito