Beechaven’s The Judge’s Choice Chambourcin

Beachaven’s The Judge’s Choice Chambourcin

Judge's Choice

Things never go the way I expect them.  That’s both a joy and a frustration.  As I get older and my sun sets further into the west I find myself minding this less and less.  In fact, it’s the surprises that make me smile the most, the truly great stuff you just don’t see coming.

Case in point is this weeks wine, Judge’s Choice, from Beachaven Vineyards and Winery in Clarksville, Tennessee.  Now, truth be told, I have been to this vineyard many times viciously searching for wine.  And I have enjoyed every drop of it.  You may remember my niece, Lindsay, who is the wine club manager at Beachaven.  If you ever want to try some of their varietals the Wine Club would be the way to do it!


It is the wine that’s special.  If you have been a consistent reader of Griffy on Wine you know I am the Captain Kirk of wine drinkers; boldly going where most wine drinkers have never gone before.  Or, as one reader put it, “where the hell do you find these varietals?”


This wine is made with the Chambourcin grape.  What, Chambourcin, never heard of it?  Well, I’m not surprised, as the grape didn’t exist before 1963.  A Frenchmen, Joannes Seyve, developed it in 1860 using American root stock and Seibel hybrid grapes.  To be honest, no one is certain of it’s family tree.  The grape is still grown in France, Portugal, and Australia; man I’m hitting all the relatives’ home turfs.  But it’s home is here in the U.S., from the mid-Atlantic to the South and up to Michigan. Or, as I call it, Nappa Valley East!  This wine was made from 100% Tennesse fruit.


The Chambourcin makes a very aromatic wine with a nice ruby tone.  Dry and medium-bodied I found it an absolutely delicious red wine.  The official color is “teiturier,” a term I was as familiar with as Chambourcin.  It means a grape whose juice is pink or red rather than clear like most reds, or “vitis vinifera cultivars.”  Seriously, where else but here are you going to learn stuff like this?


Like me, this grape was a born in the lower middle class, but is working its way into the domain of vinifera high society.  It fled the confines of French wine law, and is now free to express itself as a truly American wine.  If only more Americans were to drink it!   Taste this wine, you will be impressed and know it has a promising future.


In the early 1900’s, Tennessee, like most states at that time, had many small vineyards producing thousands of gallons of wine.  Then, in 1919, Prohibition put an end to commercial winemaking in Tennessee for many years to come.


In the late 1970’s, Judge William O. Beach pioneered legislation that revived Tennessee’s wine industry.  His years of successful amateur winemaking sparked the desire to open a commercial winery in his home town of Clarksville, Tennessee.  By the early 1980’s,  Judge Beach and his son-in-law Edward Cooke planted a large commercial vineyard.  Then, in 1986, Judge Beach, Ed and Louisa Cooke founded Beachaven Vineyards & Winery LTD.  Beachaven quickly established a reputation for wine quality and vintage consistency.  Since Judge Beach’s death in 1991, the Cooke family has continued to build on the dreams and successes.  Beachaven is leading Tennessee’s wine making comeback.


Check out Beachaven Vineyards and Winery at  Tell them Giffy sent you!


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