“By making this wine vine known to the public, I have rendered my country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt.”…………. Thomas Jefferson
Few things are more fun than learning you have more to learn. And, when it comes to wine, the opportunities are endless. My most recent learning experience was at the Lynfred Winery in Roselle, Illinois. I had gone there to request a tech sheet for their 2006 Semillon Reserve (a great bottle). While there, I spoke with Andres Basso (Director of Winemaking). We talked about the 2006 Semillon Reserve and Andres asked if I had tried the Chambourcin Rose. He seemed rather proud of it and I felt bad having to explain that, generally, I don’t like rose wines. Yes, I’ve had some from Province and the Loire in France, but as a whole (and to my tastes) rose is unexciting. Worse: Chambourcin (again to my tastes) is a blending grape. It grows well in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic States, the grape is happy in a cool climate and fungal resistant, but none of that means it tastes good. I’ve had these discussions before. I’ve tasted Chambourcin before. I didn’t and don’t like it. Case closed.
Case opened! Andres was pretty insistent, and when a winemaker hearing what I said still backs the wine………….well you need to be pretty impressed with yourself not to listen. I’m glad I’m not impressed with myself, and tasted the wine. The first thing you notice about Lynfred’s 2011 (Illinois) Chambourcin Rose is its beautiful color --- richer in color than you would expect. (I suspected that might be from the juice staying in contact with the skin, although Chambourcin wines tend to be color rich). It presents in the glass as a light garnet, not a pale washed-out residue typical of so many roses. I since learned that Lynfred’s 2011 Chambourcin Rose is a blend of 75% Chambourcin (from Correll Vineyards in Illinois) with the other 25% being a rose blend of Cabinet Sauvignon & Merlot. This blending not only accounts for the color, it also explains the depth of taste in this rose compared to most others. Lynfred sources their grapes carefully, with the Cabinet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes coming from California or Washington. Good grapes make good wine.
The nose of their Chambourcin Rose reminded me of a cherry spritzer with the cherry definitely carried into the taste, along with a hint of strawberry. The back taste offered tart cherry. With air, these tastes become rounder and linger against the wall of your mouth. The wine offers a long, enjoyable finish. Chambourcin Rose is not complex, nor is it meant to be. It is not a super Tuscan or a chewy Cabinet Sauvignon. But it is also not the vapid, doesn’t-know-what-it-wants-to-be liquid of so many roses. This wine has taste and character. It is aged for six months in stainless steel and filtered. I think the wine is substantial enough to be cellared for up to three/four years, but that will be difficult because you will be tempted to enjoy several bottles each summer. In France, much more red wine is consumed than is white, yet in the heat of summer, rose is often preferred and treated as a red. Lynfred’s Chambourcin Rose is unapologetically fresh and youthful. It is simply “joy” in a glass.
Food pairing is sometimes a problem with roses, but not for this rose of character. I can see this served alongside an appetizer of grilled, sweet, mini red peppers stuffed with goat cheese and finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or grilled asparagus with balsamic. It would go well with a dish of gumbo or bouillabaisse. Ham seems a natural, maybe with a rum-raisin sauce. Of course, everyone will suggest a Riesling with spicy Thai foods, and that works, but you might also enjoy Lynfred’s 2011 Chambourcin Rose for something different. A summer afternoon relaxing with charcuterie, some cheeses and a baguette? Perfect! Memorial Day, July 4th? It’s summer. It’s hot. You have the grill going and there is macaroni salad and watermelon --- this is a time made for Chambourcin Rose. If you’re more concerned with impressing yourself than impressing others, you should try this wine.
P.S. You'll notice this is the first time my photo shows a full bottle. There are two reaons for that. I wanted you to appreciate the beautiful color of this wine. And I needed to get another bottle. The first one was too quickly enjoyed!
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