It's wine show season, and one show that always encourages some unusual and inspiring entries is the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show (AAVWS) …and one such lesser known variety ready to now be fully discovered by the Australian consumer is Chambourcin.
A French-American hybrid, Chambourcin's actual parentage is unknown after it was lost upon the death of its creator Joannes Seyve who passed away in 1963. No matter where it came from, Chambourcin is definitely finding a home for itself in Australia, particularly in some NSW vineyards. Quite fitting considering our multi-cultural society.
Frog Rock Wines in Mudgee has taken particular joy in fostering this variety, welcoming it to the family in 1999. The new release Frog Rock Chambourcin 2008 ($25), like previous vintages, is showing true varietal character with the deep black/purple colour expected and also the spicy plum and ripe mulberry on the nose and palate. Where it does differ from some other Chambourcins is a much longer depth and relatively fuller body, demonstrating why Mudgee is a region really suited to growing this versatile grape variety.
According to Rick Turner, owner of Frog Rock Wines, Chambourcin is very much an "underrated" variety and he is surprised that it is not more commonly grown. Rick says, "Chambourcin has excellent structure with a fine balance of acidity and tannins. The flavours aren't actually as heavy as the colour suggests and it can be an amazingly malleable variety. We produce our style to be enjoyed with hearty winter dishes or it can also be chilled down and served with your favourite spicy food."
The Frog Rock Chambourcin is fermented in open fermenters and hand plunged to control tannin extraction. It is then matured in older French barriques to keep oak tannins in balance.
Both the AAVWS and Frog Rock Wines have been aiming to raise the profile of lesser known varietals such as Chambourcin and Petit Verdot for many years now and to introduce all levels of wine lovers to the new and exciting things that are coming out of the Australian wine industry.
Frog Rock Chambourcin 2008 ($25) available in all good independent retailers and direct from Frog Rock Wines P: (02) 6372 2408 W: www.frogrockwines.com
Check out more about the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show at http://www.aavws.com/public/