Vineyard Spotlight: Chamard Vineyard

This week the FCL visited Chamard Vineyards to taste the wines and walk the vines. Located on a beautiful estate in Clinton CT, just a couple minutes north of the Clinton Crossing outlet complex–Chamard offers an exquisite selection of spicy, flavorful reds and crisp and refreshing whites that are sure to please.

The 20 acres of established vineyard space cultivate crops of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Although all of the whites are purely estate-cultivated Connecticut wines—Chamard does ship in some red grapes to fill out flight.

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The estate features scenic views of rolling fields and tables and benches for parties and picnics. Although the vines were dormant and frozen during this January visit, we were still able to walk to vineyard to see the vines up-close and scope the terroir. It seems that it’s a combination of the gnarled, seasoned vines and raw, stony soil that make the Chamard wines what they are. Also, just a couple miles from Long Island Sound, the estate experiences a unique and relatively mellow micro-climate with mild winters and a nice and warm growing season that offer consistently good growth and quality fruit.

In the winery, it’s French-style labels and French-style winemaking that create the Chamard image. Proven tradition is showcased in a fantastic range of wines that are widely regarded to be some of the best in the state.

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The 2010 selection of wines offered a 2004 Chardonnay, a 2005 Estate Reserve Chardonnay, a 2006 Cabernet Franc, a 2005 Estate Reserve Cabernet Franc (unavailable for tasting), a 2006 Merlot, and a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (full review coming soon).

Every one of these wines displayed quality juice and robust, defined flavors. Even the Merlot was full and luscious yielding pleasant nuances and unexpected complexity. It seems that the Chamard winemakers really know what they’re doing when it comes to blending. The Cabernet Sauvignon is excellently softened with small amounts of Merlot and likewise the Merlot is delicately accented by adding Cabernet.

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It’s Chamard’s Chardonnays, however, that seem to be their specialty. These were the finest Connecticut whites that I’ve ever experienced. By blending oaked and non-oaked wines Chamard creates wines that are clean, refreshing and vibrant but still showcase the toasty, woody notes that we love in our Chardonnay. The 2004 uses 60% stainless steel fermented wine and 40% oak fermented, while the 2005 Estate Reserve uses a contrary proportion–incorporating 40% stainless, and 60% oaked wine. Both of these blends are excellent specimens of Connecticut Chardonnay and create a pleasant balance that isn’t just for summer.

Overall this vineyard made for a very nice experience and I’m excited to visit again in warmer weather. The tasting room offers both bottle sales and wine by the glass so next time your cruising through on I-95 be sure to stop by for a glass of wine and a walk in the vines.

Visit Chamard at