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Exploring Coeur d'Est, a Unique, Blended New Jersey Wine

by Robin Shreeves on Sep 24, 2015 in Wine

When you’re visiting the wineries of South Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain, make sure you ask at each winery if they bottle Coeur d’Est, a red wine blend made exclusively from grapes grown in the region. The wine is a collaboration between some of the member wineries of the Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Avea (AVA).

If you didn’t know the wineries in the region were part of an AVA, you’re not alone. This blend is one of the ways they are working together to get the word out that New Jersey makes premium wine.

“Knowing we needed to identify the area somehow, we chose to make this blend.” said Jim Quarella, President of the Outer Coastal Plain Vineyard Association and founder of Bellview Winery in Landisville, NJ. “We knew it had to be a quality wine.”

To get wine lovers in the region excited about the blend, the OCPVA held a naming contest. Well over 100 submissions came in, and Coeur d’Est was the winner. The name (pronounced ker dest) is French for Heart of the East. The wine is made from grape varieties that are the heart of the wine growing region and many of them are French in origin.

To ensure quality, participating wineries must submit blends to the Beverage Tasting Institute. The wine must earn a silver medal (a rating of 85) or better to be eligible for the Coeur d’Est label. They must also must follow the guidelines for the blend to create their own Coeur d’Est, deciding which percentage of the grapes to use in their wine. The blend must use Chambourcin, a grape that grows exceptionally well in the region.

“Chambourcin is what gives us our uniqueness in the blend,” said Quarella.

The grape can be 25 percent to 50 percent of the blend and each winemaker has the option to blend it with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and/or Petite Verdot - all grapes that consistently produce well in the region.

Blend Composition
Permitted Varieties
Variety %

75% - 100% of blend
Chambourcin
Cabernet Franc
Merlot
25%-50%
0% - 50%
0% - 50%

Up to 25% of blend
Cabernet Sauvignon
Syrah
Petit Verdot
0% - 25%
0% - 25%
0% - 15%

The first Grand Tasting of Coeur d’Est happened a little over a year ago with nine wineries pouring their blends. There are currently four wineries still selling the first bottling: Bellview Winery, Sharrott Winery, Auburn Road Vineyard, and Heritage Vineyards.

I had the opportunity do a tasting of Sharrott’s Coeur d’Est ($34.99), a 50/50 blend of Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc. The wine begins dry on the palate (that’s the Chambourcin) and bursts with a lovely, berry juiciness on the finish (that’s the Cabernet Franc). It would pair well with beef or a hearty red-sauced meat and pasta dish. The Beverage Tasting Institute awarded it 92 points and a gold medal. It’s definitely an example of what Coeur d’Est is meant to be, a wine that shows New Jersey can produce a quality, premium wine. 

Top photo via Heritage Vineyards; Coeur d'Est photo by Jennifer Malme, Sharrott Winery


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