Great Things Do Come from New Jersey.

December 20, 2014

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.

Round One

For the first set of three wines we were told the following

  1.      All wines were the same variety: Chardonnay
  2.      The wines came from 3 different regions: France, New Jersey, and California.

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.   

Round Two

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 reveal

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.


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