Unionville’s winemaker Cameron Stark is dedicated to creating wines that highlight varietal flavors and terroir. Driven to showcase the fruit character and food-friendly acidity of wines from our estate vineyards, Stark forgoes the “butter” and sweet oak by limiting malolactic fermentation, using neutral French oak barrels, and using pure fruit.
Malolactic fermentation occurs in the wine making process after primary fermentation (sugar → alcohol) has finished. Oenococcus oeni, one of the key players in malolactic fermentation, is responsible for imparting the buttery notes found in some Chardonnays.
At Unionville Vineyards, we limit malolactic fermentation in our Chardonnays. The result: fruit-forward wine that has a higher acidity, which imparts a crisp clean finish on the palate and makes it perfect for pairing with food.
Stacy Brody, our Operations Coordinator, likes to compare oak barrels to tea bags. “Neutral oak barrels are tea bags that have been used a few times. The essence is still there, but it is muted.”
By using neutral oak barrels, we allow the unique flavors of each varietal to be prominent in the final wines. New oak, particularly American, can impart strong wood and vanilla notes, which often dominate the delicate flavors of the grape. At Unionville, we use all French oak, mostly neutral.
Varietal and site typicity are our main focus at Unionville Vineyards. Managing five estate vineyards, totaling 54 acres under vine, we know that each site is unique.
We continually showcase each vineyard and its unique characters. We have Pinot Noir Clone 115 on four different sites, and each one tastes different. In order to express the grape in its truest form, we are very diligent about harvest time and yeast selection. This diligence creates a balanced fruit-forward wine with depth.Unionville’s goal is to make the best wine on the east coast. Period. Cameron pays homage to the grape’s varietal expression by using fresh hand-picked berries. Neutral French oak barrels and limited malolactic fermentation allow the pure expression of a grape’s typicity as well as the vineyard’s terroir. A recipe sure to create a yummy wine.
I stopped at my local market on my way home and cooked up an early dinner. I couldn't help myself, the recipe sounded too good. The baby arugula has a light spiciness, which balances the wine's creaminess. The rosemary adds an earthy element that pairs well with the citrus of both the wine and the fillet. The pairing of wine and food may be, as Sid Goldstein of The Wine Lover's Cookbook says, a complex and highly inexact science, but I've found much success breaking down why these pairings work and much satisfaction testing and tasting.
My fish market had very thin fillets. I opted to serve two per person. Depending on the thickness, adjust serving size and cooking time accordingly.
I cannot get enough of roasted root vegetables. I could eat them every night. Roasting is one of the easiest, most magical ways to prepare vegetables.
Hot out of the oven, they are crispy salty sweet treats. Left overs? Roasted veggies are perfect for a colorful hearty salad the next day. You can't go wrong. Think of these veggies as more diversified french fries.
When cooked at a high enough temperature, the naturally occurring sugar in the root veggies will caramelize. Vinegar will amplify these flavors bringing out a slightly nutty taste. Serve alongside a cream sauce, and pair with a dry, nutty, white wine such as Unionville Vineyards’ Marsanne Roussanne and you are in for a real treat!
ROASTED ROOT VEGGIES WITH BECHAMEL SAUCE
total time: 1 hr yield: 4-6 servings
I have always eaten my condiments with food, not my food with condiments. My mom loves to tell stories of me licking ketchup off of french fries. I know there are other condiment lovers out there! Are french fries not merely a vehicle for the ketchup?
As I began to experiment in the kitchen, I started by perfecting recipes for the condiments I enjoyed as a kid. My recent obsession- honey mustard. Local honey simmered with fresh whole grain mustard - to die for.
We all know that honey mustard and chicken are a classic combination. Instead of a dipping sauce, simmer the chicken in the honey mustard with fresh herbs and dry white wine. The house will smell fantastic - drawing your family to the dinner table!
I prefer to cook this in a cast iron skillet, as a one pot meal. If you do not have a cast iron skillet, simply saute the onions and garlic in a standard skillet; then use a baking dish to cook your chicken.
Marsanne and Roussanne are two white grape varieties traditionally hailing from the the Rhone valley.
This full bodied white wine, has the brightness of lemon with subtle floral hints of honey suckle. An old dynamic duo - Marsanne adds structure while Roussanne adds more aromatic notes - together they create a medium to full bodied white wine. Its supreme ability to age makes it a collector's favorite. Aging imparts more nutty notes than citrus.
Similar to Chardonnay or Viognier, a dry white wine pairs naturally with most chicken recipes. The tartness of the cranberry relish and earthy notes of the herbs make Marsanne Roussanne my go-to wine for this pairing.
HONEY ROASTED CHICKEN AND CRANBERRY RELISH
total time: 45 minutes yield: 4 servings
There is no rest for the wicked, but there are parties!
The Unionville Vineyards team celebrated the season with a potluck dinner, and we throw a darn good potluck.
The buffet table was overflowing with everything from grilled Haloumi cheese to chicken Marsala to Moroccan tagine to honey whiskey cupcakes. You know those cupcakes were gone before I could whip my phone out to snap a photo.
We love food almost as much as we love wine. Just look at all the mouthwatering recipes we share! Cam even broke out the grill and cooked up some flank steaks for the team.
We were all enjoying ourselves when we learned Cam had yet another trick up his sleeve…
He quieted us, a tough task, and announced that we should empty and rinse out our glasses because he was about to start us on a blind tasting of five white wines, broken into two rounds.
For the first set of three wines we were told the following
We tasted the first wine. Immediately, aromas of vanilla and caramel leapt from the glass, followed by citrus, orange. In the mouth, creamy, rich, buttery. Definitely some new oak. Definitely malolactic fermentation. This has to be California, we guessed. This is not Unionville’s wine.
We tasted the second wine. This one showcased the fruit: white peach and lemon zest, with notes of white flowers. Much sleeker, leaner than the first. Flint on the finish. Had to be French. Had to be!
We tasted the third wine. Pure fruit. Meyer lemon and those same white flowers. Good acidity and flavor throughout. No oak on the nose or on the palate. A pure expression of the variety and the terroir. This was ours. We were proud – ours runs with the best of them.
Then the reveal!
Number one: Mount Eden 2011 Chardonnay. California. 95 points from Wine Spectator. From the producer’s technical notes, we learned the wine was fermented and aged in 75% new French oak and completed 100% malolactic fermentation. Average retail price $70.
Number two: Meursault Sous le Dos D’ane. Côte D’Or, Burgundy. 92 Points Wine Spectator. Average retail $150.
Number three: Unionville’s 2012 Pheasant Hill Vineyard Chardonnay. New Jersey. Featured at the New Jersey Food and Wine Festival at Crystal Springs. Fermented and aged in neutral French oak barrels. Retail $51.95.
Unlike many consumers, we believe great wines can come from New Jersey. We were proved right.
The second round of blind tasting included two wines. We could see these wine were white. We knew nothing beyond that, not the region or the variety. Nothing.
Cam was testing us.
The first had notes of flowers, oak and hazelnuts, with a hint of Gewürztraminer-like spice. In the mouth, rich, full-bodied, almost oily, viscous.
Cam started pouring the last wine. Wow, white flowers! Strong floral notes, minerality on the palate. Start to finish a beautiful wine with a rich mouthfeel.
“Vouvray,” someone guessed.
“Our Marsanne-Roussanne,” suggested Natalie.
“How did you know?” Cam was flabbergasted.
“We tasted it at Matt’s a few weeks ago.”
She was right! We had brought a bottle to a team dinner at Matt’s Red Rooster a few weeks ago, and she remembered!
The first wine - Saint Joseph “Lieu-Dit,” produced by E. Guigal, a well-respected producer in the Rhône region of France. This bottle retails for around $58.
The second wine - OUR Amwell Ridge Marsanne-Roussanne to be released in mid-January. It will retail for $29.95.
We know our wines are good. Now, we tell you from experience our wines are as good as the best of them.
Great things do come from New Jersey.
It was the middle of the summer when I started working at Unionville, and we were just releasing the 2013 Cool Foxy Lady. Made from 100% late-harvest Vidal grapes, Cool Foxy Lady, with a velvety sweetness and subtle hints of citrus, is our unique twist on the classic ice wine. In the tasting room, one of our team members always asks our guests to envision eating a slice of Lemon Meringue pie while sipping Cool Foxy Lady. The tartness of the pie contrasts the sweetness of the wine - refreshing your taste buds.
My father and I love lemon meringue pie! I bake this dessert for holiday parties, when I want to offer a light refreshing alternative at the dessert table. This year, I will be baking this pie and serving it alongside Cool Foxy Lady. It is a perfect pairing! Do you offer a unique dessert at your holiday parties? Tell us below!!
To test your peaks, turn your whisk upside down. The meringue should cling to the whisk and hold their peak without collapsing.
Once the pie is cool, serve alongside a glass of Cool Foxy Lady. Tell us about your favorite dessert and wine pairings below.
Wine lovers rarely love just wine - they also love the food and accessories that elevate the overall wine sipping experience. They often, however, see these goodies as "splurges" - and put off purchasing such items for themselves. Problem for them - good thing for us. What could be a more perfect gift? Below you will find the Top 5 Gifts for Wine Lovers tried and true - I can assure you I will be bringing a few of these treats to loved ones in my family! Stop by the winery to pick up the perfect gifts for the wine lovers in your family this holiday season.
Psst...pay attention to the theme - this is the ticket to a wine lover's heart!
When I am home alone, my go-to dinner is a bottle of dry red wine and a cheese platter. Properly paired, the cheeses bring out subtle nuances of the wine while not overwhelming the palate. I fill the plate with accoutrements, including dried fruits and nuts. If your loved one is not a fan of red wine, don't worry. There are wine and cheese pairings for all palates. For a bold, dry red, go with a sharp aged cheese like cheddar. Unionville Vineyard’s German style Riesling pairs well with a fresh, young cheese. Does your loved one enjoy a bloomy rind cheese such as a brie - go with our Classic Chardonnay. Complete the plate with a drizzle of honey and spoonful of fruit compote - what a perfect date night for two!
Chocolate, in all of it’s chocolaty goodness, contains a whole palate of flavors that often go unnoticed. Pair this chocolate, made by Robinson's with Unionville's red wine, with Cabernet Sauvignon, and begin to notice notes of sweetness, acidity, and a slight fruitiness - enhancing the boldest flavors in our red wine.
A wine bottle tote is an absolute must for every wine lover. This tote is the perfect size for a bottle of your favorite wine, some cheese, and crackers - making it the go-to picnic accessory.
Over the summer, I was conducting a wine tasting when the two unthinkables happened. First, I forgot a wine opener. Second, a good Samaritan, who was cleaning up the facility, threw away my corks. Without my emergency bottle opener or cork, the evening would have involved an unexpected trip to the store - more time and more money. This duo, the alpha and omega of the wine evening, makes the perfect stocking stuffer for any wine lover. Between impromptu wine picnics and spontaneous cleaning brigades, it is handy to have a few of these stashed away.
Wine lovers are often also great hosts. With a kind open heart, they want to extend the experience of fantastic wine to all of their loved ones. Last week, I was hosting a get together, and at the very last minute decided I wanted to create a "Make your Own" cheese plate station. With mounds of different cheeses, dried fruits, and nuts I needed a way for my guests to drizzle their cheese plate in a condiment of their choice. Then I remembered I had a few festive dispensers. Filled with extra virgin olive oil or honey, these are a beautiful and practical way to dress up an appetizer table.
Stop by the winery to see the other holiday gifts we have this year and pick up a bottle of wine to go with all of the goodies.
Do you remember the post I wrote a few weeks ago, “Top Four Reasons Why Port is Amazing?” Well,ladies and gents, I have greatly underestimated this divine wine. There are not simply four reasons why Port is amazing, there are at least FIVE reasons why Port is amazing. Recently, I discovered that the fifth reason why Unionville Vineyard’s Port is amazing is because it pairs with chocolate - dark chocolate with sea salt or dark chocolate covered figs. There could not be a more perfect pair - chocolate and Port! So for you tonight, and in celebration of our Vat 20 Port release this weekend, I have a pairing of Chocolate Lava Cakes with Raspberry Compote and Unionville’s Vat 20 Port.
Roasted anything is delicious. Roasted Brussels sprouts is hands down the most delicious of all! Their little leaves become crispy like potato chips. Drizzled in maple syrup and sprinkled with chili powder, this smokey sweet treat is the perfect side dish for Thanksgiving. I began making this dish a few years ago as simply roasted Brussels sprouts, but by the time they were served they were no longer hot and had lost some of their crisp - in a way losing some of their pitzaz. I then had the genius idea to turn it into a salad. A sprinkle of feta, some chopped red onion, and some balsamic glaze and BAM. The pitzaz is back.
Similar the Roasted Sweet Potato and Browned Butter, this is another side dish that is not only seasonally appropriate for Thanksgiving but pairs well with the earthy yet soft fruity notes of Unionville Vineyards's Pinot Noir Reserve.
3 lbs of Brussels sprouts halved - the key here is uniform size
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of chili powder
1/4 cup of feta cheese
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of cracked black pepper
1 red onion - minced