Goodbye BC: Chamberton Winery, Fraser Valley, Canada

Wayward Wine ends eleven days in Canada, with British Columbia’s oldest winery: Chamberton Estate.  Now oldest around here is 1991. But that gets near to 24 years old.  Claude and Inge Violet left their vineyards in France to plant in BC. Only recently did they hand the winery to Eugene Kwan and Anthony Cheng, who are thoroughly involved. Let’s see how they fair.

Since this is off season we tour the vineyard. The Bacchus vines date back thirty years, and it shows:


Chambouton Vine

Chilly we head into their tank room:

Chambouton TanksThey have their own bottling line and my first sight of a box wine filling station:

Chambourton Box wineI am excited. Their box white blend is very popular. We head on to the barrel room, which smells like an alcoholic sauna.

Chambourton Barrel Room

But how do their wines taste?


Highlights certainly included Chamberton’s 2013 Dry Bacchus (a cross between Riesling, Silvaner, and Müller Thurgau).  It glows pale lemon, delicate, but upfront white peach, lemongrass, lime blossom. It feels soft yet sprightly, finishing with a knife sharp mineral finish (4 of 5). On sale for under $16 we grab one.

Their sweeter Bacchus loses that cut but fits a niche (3 of 5). As does their Valley White Blend (Madeline, Silvaner, and Sauv Blanc) even though it blends in Okanagan fruit.

Their 2013 Gamay (that grape that ends up in Beaujolais) shows fine balance, taught acid, clove, tomato, wild strawberry, and light tobacco from deftly employed French barrels (4 of 5). We buy one on sale for under 16.95.

We also purchase a bottle of Siegerrebe, even though we never tried it, because it was grown here.

As we drive between America and Canada on Avenue 0, we start to worry about our two cases of Canadian beer and wine.

Canada BoarderBorder fees or taxes do not scare us. But did we over-calibrate our palates over the last eleven days? Will all these bottles taste horrid once we acclimate stateside?

The guard passes us through. A week back, we retry the Dry Bacchus. It still smells delicate and brilliant. We almost rate it higher (nostalgic maybe).  However, its acidity now slices at us and slightly odder flavors peak about. It is still very good (4 of 5), but speaks with a BC accent that now sounds foreign. Curious stuff.



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