My brother brought out two bottles of Fireside Winery "Hearthside" red wine when he visited here in December. Hearthside is a blend of Chambourcin and Chancellor grapes and grown in Iowa.
The Fireside Winery web page describes "Hearthside" as, "Our dry red wine, a blend of Chambourcin and Chancellor grapes, is a medium-bodied wine that shows off the deep purple color for which Chancellor is known. Aromas of roasted nuts, licorice, and green peppers make Hearthstone the ideal choice for curling up by the fireplace on a cold winter night, or for serving with rack of lamb or beef tenderloin."
Chambourcin (hybrid) is not a widely known grape and hasn't gotten much market penetration. The essential issue with Chambourcin is acceptance with the buying public and the confidence of patrons at my restaurant.
I tried one of the bottles yesterday with a rare prime rib. Here are my thoughts about the wine.
1. Fruit leads the way. There is a nice fruit nose on the wine. I am not some sort of super-taster and could not dissern the roasted nuts, licorice or green peppers that the winery noted. What I did note was a significant fruit which is fine with me.
2. It seemed a little "hot" to me. The bottle says 13.3% alcohol by volume - seems hotter than that to me.
3. Tannins were thin. I am somewhat experienced Chambourcin and Chancellor grapes as they are widely grown in Northern Virginia (Leesburg) and realize that I shouldn't expect Cabernet Sauvignon like tannic structure. I expect Chambourcin to be soft - but not this soft. I don't think the wine is cellar-worthy. The wine is as good now as it will ever be and should be consumed young.
So, the $100 question: Would I put this wine on my wine list? Maybe.
At $12 per bottle at the winery, I assume that the bottle would wholesale between $4.50 and $5.00 per bottle. This would make the wine (on a price basis) a good candidate for my "by the glass" selection where I would price it at $7.00 or $8.00 per serving allowing me to cover the cost of the bottle with the first pour and to gross $28 to $32 per bottle.
I guess the answer is, "yes" that I'd put it on my wine list starting with "by the glass" to gauge if there is demand for the product. If there were support then I'd move it to the main list.