My friend Remy, at the Wine Case, was the host of this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday: North v South. I tried to get creative with this, but it didn't really work out the way I planned.
My grape? I chose the French-American hybrid Chambourcin, which seemed perfect considering where are wines are from.
The winner? None, because I ended up tricking myself.
You see, we started out trying this blind so I couldn't be partial to one or the other. Turns out, there was such as stark difference between the two that I had to run back to the bottles to find out why. The Encore is actually a Chambourcin dessert wine. I had no idea. Who packages 19% AbV wine in 750 ml bottles? Those are generally half bottles! And the dessert wine classification? It was itty bitty in the lower left corner. Kevin and I both completely missed it.
When it comes down to it, we actually enjoyed both wines and since I was taken by surprise by the Arrington, we really can't compare to the two equally.
Full reviews of each wine are after the jump.
You'll find a lot of Chambourcin in Ohio, Kentucky, and the South; it's also become popular in Canada and Australia. Considering our weather and soil, it's relatively easy to grow and it often yields a fair number of grapes.
Joseph's Estate 2004 Chambourcin: We picked up this wine in January 2007, on our last trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
This had a subtle nose on it, mostly of cherries. There was cherry in the mouth as well, but more of a sour cherry (that's a good thing). It was a dry wine, and appropriately bitter. Chambourcin is often a little bitter. There was a full mouthfeel, and we managed to knock out the whole bottle. It was easy to drink.
Arrington 2006 Encore Chambourcin Dessert Wine: We picked up this wine when we judged the Wines of the South. After the judging was over, there were a bunch of unopened bottles. We grabbed this one. Arrington (owned by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn) won a lot of the awards at Wines of the South, including a couple Concordance Gold medals and their Riesling won Best of Show. We knew we liked Chambourcin, so we didn't think twice about trying this one. If I'm not mistaken, it was entered in the competition as a Chambourcin and not as a Dessert Wine, adding to my confusion.
My first reaction to this, before I grabbed the bottle to find out what was up, was "Oh my god! Someone dumped a packet of sweet and low in here!" It is rather sweet, but as the bottle was open, I noticed the sweetness receding a little. Remember, I was originally looking for that sour cherry, hint of bitterness you find in a normal Chambourcin.
This wine is 19% Alcohol by Volume, but it's mostly masked by the sweetness. If you like Ports, you might enjoy this. The Chambourcin grape holds up to the sugar and the alcohol, making it a rather stout wine. It was reminiscent in some ways of blueberry syrup or cherry liqueur (but not cough syrupy). Much to our surprise, we enjoyed the wine, although we could only handle one glass each. That's okay though. I suspect this one will hold for a few days.
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