Port is a fortified dessert wine made by the addition of brandy into a fermenting wine. The brandy raises the alcohol level and kills the yeasts responsible for converting sugars to alcohol, thereby preserving the natural grape sugars.
At Unionville we start with the Chambourcin grape. Chambourcin has these really great cherry and raspberry notes, so the end product tastes something like chocolate-covered berries. It’s pretty wonderful.
Anyway, we start with Chambourcin. In some years, we bleed off free-run juice, which is rather light and delicate. We can put that into a blush or a light red blend. Then, we start fermenting the concentrated red that’s left. Once we get to a sugar level we like we add brandy to stop the fermentation.
In 2012, we released a 2002 vintage port, which was only made from grapes from that single year and was a tawny port. In 2007, we also released a 2006 vintage port, which was a ruby port. (Shortcut: Tawny ports are older, and ruby ports are younger. Tawny ports give you more caramel, cocoa and butterscotch tones, whereas ruby ports are more fruit-forward, and, in our case, give more cherry and berry flavors.) We only make vintage ports in really wonderful years, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another great vintage! Was 2013 one of those years?For our vat series, we blend the current vintage with those from previous years. Our Vat 18 won best dessert wine in the state in 2013. We are now on Vat 19, which is a blend of nine vintages going back to 2001. By blending different vintages we can include the cocoa and caramel along with the fruit. With flavors of chocolate-covered cherry, cocoa powder and oak spice flavors, our port is sure to delight!
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I know that is cliché to say, but it truly is a great time at Unionville. We’ve got all of our reds pressed and in barrel. Cooler, stainless-steel fermentations are finishing up in tank, I’m finally able to breathe a little easier, and wake up a little later. With the holidays upon us, the wine making team has a lot on the mind, but one thing standing out is the blending, bottling, and release of Vat #23 – the latest rendition of our opulent Port wine.
Port has a storied history at Unionville – the fortified delight has been made at the winery since its first vintage in 1993, Before we delve into that, we have to talk a little about how Port is made and the different styles in which it can be presented. Port, named for its origin country, Portugal, is typically a sweet or medium-dry red wine, fortified with distilled grape spirit, then cellared and bottled at different times and in different ways to present specific stylizations. The two most recognizable presentations of Port wine are Ruby and Tawny Ports. Ruby styles are young wines usually aged for only a couple of years (or less). They’re released early to showcase juicy acidity and fruity characteristics of young wine with fuller mouthfeel and complexity
Since I started at Unionville 5 years ago, it has always been a goal to have our wines evaluated by top critics. In the years since, John Foy at the Star-Ledger has called our wines "Napa worthy," and Stuart Pigott, who freelances for James Suckling and Wine Business Monthly wrote that our Syrah was the best expression of the grape in the United States. T.J. Foderaro at Inside Jersey Magazine, Alan Richman (Saveur), Robin Shreeves (Cherry Hill Courier-Post), Rosie Saferstein (NJ Monthly), and the Trenton Times' Susan Yeske have all added their voices to the coalition of the willing in the last couple of years.
Having Unionville in the pages of one of the major wine magazines had remained elusive, until last summer when Mark Squires, East Coast wine critic for the Wine Advocate sat down and tasted...
We are gearing up for harvest here at Unionville, with surefire signs like purpling Pinot Noir and golden Chardonnay reminding us that long hours, stained hands, and an opportunity to craft a whole new lot of sensational wine is just around the corner.
It is my favorite time of year. One of my favorite parts of working in a creative scientific field is our ability to...
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