PA Wine School: Chancellor

Chambour-huh? Vidal who? Need some help demystifying some of Pennsylvania’s most essential wine words? The PA Wine Land Post is at your service, schooling you on the grapes you need to know.

Varietal: Chancellor (chan-suh-lr)

Grown: Across Pennsylvania

Similar to: Lemberger

Originally bred in France, Chancellor is now grown almost exclusively in the United States. (French law actually prohibits most hybrids from being planted commercially.) The varietal was known as Seibel 7053 until 1970 when it was renamed by growers in New York State.

The grapes boast an intense black color and firm skin. That deep hue translates to the resulting red wines which are beloved for their inky color. When sipping, expect notes of blueberry, cedar, and plum.

Winemakers have a lot of leeway when working with this varietal. It can be made into dry, off-dry, or semi-sweet wines, and aged in stainless steel or in oak barrels — the latter will impart notes of vanilla and spice. Chancellor can also be deployed in blends with Vitis vinifera varieties such as Merlot, contributing color, acidity, and flavors of blackberry jam, figs, and prunes.

Pair this French import with deeply savory dishes such as beef stew, vegetarian chili, or lamb burgers. Sweeter, unoaked iterations can be served chilled alongside casual picnic spreads (olives, hard cheeses, salami) or as a counterpoint to flatbreads topped with garlicky greens and ricotta.