New Year, New Wine, New Jersey? New Region, New Grapes #WinePW


Have you ever tasted wine from New Jersey?


What about Ugni Blanc? Have you ever tasted a wine made with that grape?

For this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend challenge “New Year, New Wine,” Que Syrah Sue and I decided to taste a wine from a new region — New Jersey!– and to taste a wine from grapes that we didn’t think we’d had before. We considered trying a new recipe too but instead decided to explore new Welsh Cheddars along with a menu of favorites.


Cheese plate featuring Snowdonia Welsh Cheddar Cheeses

Crab Cakes on a bed of Field Greens with beets, walnuts, and Gorgonzola dressing

Porterhouse Steak topped with Gorgonzola,  mashed potatoes with Gorgonzola, and Sauted Kale, Spinach and Ham

Apple Pie with Snowdonia Cheddar Cheese

New Year, New Wine, New Grape?

We were planning on focusing on the red blend from New Jersey for this post, but when my husband brought home this white wine sample that had arrived that day, and we saw it was made from grapes we hadn’t heard of before or tried, and we thought about the crab cakes, we knew we needed to open it!


Domaine du Tariquet – 10.5% alcohol – $10

Grape varieties: Ugni Blanc 45% and Colombard 35% blended together with Sauvignon 10% and Gros Manning 10%.

In color, very pale golden straw. On the nose, we found fresh herbal, mint rosemary, lavender and honeysuckle with a bit of anise. On the palate, a bit of effervesce that fades, thin skinned lime and Pomelo grapefruit. We found so much complexity in this wine that was very unexpected for the price. There is a roundness to the mouthfeel, kind of coats the palate. The finish is lemony, and brisk.

This went really well with our rosemary almonds, brought out beautiful herbal characteristics in the wine and totally enhanced the mouth feel. This would be a great lunch wine paired with oysters, caesar or other salads. It has low alcohol which makes it a nice wine to enjoy if you need to continue working and thinking throughout the day, but are having an important lunch meeting with clients or lunch with friends and want to have a glass of wine with your meal. It’s better with herbal foods rather than fruity ones: think margarita pizza or goat cheese with sundried tomatoes or pasta with pesto.

This also is a great palate refresher. If you are in the depth of a really rich wine, and needed a refresher between courses, this is the wine for you. With a low alcohol content, it is refreshing, cleansing, and a great break between courses. It leaves you clean and refreshed for where ever you are going. It is not grassy, not too fruity or citrusy, or floral, but has all of these qualities in balance.

We want to try more of these grapes! And find this wine. It’s a winner. No wonder it’s the best selling white wine in Bordeaux!

Ugni Blanc/Trebbiano and Colombard typically vanish into white wine blends, but they are well recognized when used for spirits:  with their high acidity and low sugar and alcohol levels, they can be distilled longer to reach an intended alcohol strength for craft spirits like Armagnac and Vermouth. In addition to the white wine blend we tasted, 100 year old family distillery and winery, Domaine du Tariquet also produces XO and Vintage Armagnacs.

Look for a review soon of Maison Villevert’s La Quintinye Vermouth Royal Extra-Dry (SRP $15) fortified with Pineau des Charentes, a grape juice made from Ugni Blanc and Colombard matured in French oak barrels then mixed with Cognac and botanicals.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration.


Crab cakes on a bed of field greens with beets, walnuts, and Sue’s homemade Gorgonzola dressing

New Year, New Wine, New Jersey?

They say you can visit wineries in all 50 states. Whether you want to is a different question! However, we’d say after tasting Amalthea Cellars  2010 outer coastal plain red blend “Europa I” at least a few of New Jersey’s over 50 wineries may be worth checking out!

According to the industry group “Garden State Wine Growers Association,” New Jersey wines are making their mark in wine competitions across the country including the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition: “Valenzano Winery of Shamong took home a “Best in Class” in the Red Native Hybrid Blends for their 2014 Old Indian Mills Blend. The Shamong-based winery also won a Gold Medal for their NV Shamong White and 2013 Malbec, and Silver Medals for their 2013 Sangiovese and Zinfandel and a Bronze for their 2014 Vidal Blanc. Unionville Vineyards of Ringoes won a Double Gold Medal for their 2013 New Jersey Chardonnay.”  New Jersey’s Unionville Winery was also named in 2016 as Food and Wine Magazine’s top 500 wineries in the US.

Wine has been made in New Jersey since before it was a state: in 1767, New Jersey wine received its first accolades. The industry flourished until Prohibition, and subsequent laws limited wine production until a series of changes in the 1980s permitted wineries to develop once again. The state has traditionally produced sweet wines, with much of it made from fruit other than grapes, and there is a wide range in quality and price.

New Jersey wine industry is growing fast: in 2007 New Jersey had over 1000 acres devoted to wine grapes, and that number is expected to double by 2016. This is surprising because New Jersey is also the most densely populated state of the union; however “the Garden State” wants to maintain its “garden status” and vineyards are an important way to do so.  According to Wikipedia,

“Today, New Jersey is ranked seventh in the nation in total wine production behind California, New York, Washington, Oregon, Kentucky and Florida. However, New Jersey’s production is minuscule compared to California’s wine industry which produces 89.5% of the country’s total production.”

While New Jersey has a basically humid summer climate and precipitation all year round that’s seemingly too cold in the winter for wine grapes, it is also geologically and geographically diverse offering a multitude of microclimates and regional differences that wineries are exploiting to their benefit: “The state’s five physiographic provinces offer a range of unique terroirs, climates and microclimates for vineyard production that is reflected in the essence of the wine, ” states Wikipedia.


New Jersey has three recognized AVAs: Central Delaware Valley AVA (established in 1984 and with no current wineries), Warren Hills AVA (established in 1988 and with at least five wineries), and Outer Coastal Plain AVA (established in 2007 and home to 28 or more wineries). More AVAs may be on their way.

The Outer Coast Plain AVA is basically one of those five physiographic provinces and includes a lot of the Atlantic coastline as well as the area known as the Pine Barrens. Seventy percent (70%) of state grape production is located here, because of a more moderate climate influenced by the presence of large bodies of water: the nearby Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean extends the growing season, and the soil is fertile sand and sandy loam. Read more about New Jersey wine in this article from the New York Times by Adam Davidson. 

Amalthea, the New Jersey wine that we tasted comes from this AVA, in Southern NJ in the Outer Coastal Plain Region, specifically in Atco, N.J., near the Camden County Airport. Vintner Louis Caracciolo is a revolutionary in New Jersey wine and he has done a lot to change the reputation of New Jersey wine from sweet rotgut to respectable wine worthy of a place in the cellar next to wines from Napa, Bordeaux, and Santa Barbara.

Louis Caracciolo learned about wine from his Italian immigrant grandfather. He studied food science in college and in 1976, planted his vineyards and began experimenting with worthwhile results if the wine we tasted is representative.


2010 -Legends Edition – Europa I – Amalthea Cellars – 2010 outer coastal plain – Atco, New Jersey – $35 – 12% alcohol

EUROPA I is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Merlot 20%, Cabernet Franc 5% typical of the region surrounding Chateau Margaux. While the “intention is not to mimic the wines of Bordeaux,”  Southern Jersey grapes are blended in proportions in the style of various Chateau of Bordeaux for the six different Europa bottlings.

In the glass, there is cloudiness to the garnet color with a coral ring.

We found this wine to be nice on the nose: welcoming, inviting, warm– with cherry, berry, and plum. The blend of grapes makes it a blend of aromas, not distinctly just one.

On the palate, oak dominated at first but mellows as it breathes. As it opens up there is still nice fruit on the nose, but some of the subtle complexity and character of the wine shines through.

In body, this is not as heavy or as rich as most American Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blends.

The gorgonzola brought out a very nice smokey quality in the wine, and it was lovely with the marcona almonds with rosemary. The mature cheddar went best with this wine, showing off the fruit. This cheese showcased the wine as well as the wine showcased the cheese, best of all.  The wine also went well with the ginger spice cheese which enhanced the fruit in the wine. It had enough body and character to pair well with the porterhouse steak and cheese, but I would have preferred something richer.

After trying this wine, we are more open minded to trying more wine from New Jersey. We enjoyed this wine from beginning to end. It wasn’t overly anything, like a good friend, just there. It was not overly oaked, fruity, ambitious. It was like it was comfortable with itself. If you have this wine in your cellar, or if you find it to buy, drink it soon.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration.

New Wine, New Year, New Cheese!

Snowdonia Cheese Company –

Little Black Bomber – Select Extra Mature Aged Cheddar – Went great with the red blend

Bouncing Berry – Select Mature Cheddar with Cranberry Really nice cheese, but didn’t work with our wines tonight. Maybe a Merlot or possibly a Zinfandel

Ginger Spice – Select Mature Cheddar with Stem Ginger – Went nicely with the red blend (Gwen thought it was so, so). I thought it went nicely with the white wine. Added to the fruity notes.

Amber Mist – Select Mature Cheddar with Whiskey – Was not fabulous with either of our wines tonight, however better with the red than the white

Beechwood – Naturally Smoked Cheddar – while wonderful, did not go brilliantly with our wines tonight. It was not like when we had it with our Cab Franc wines where it made us want to keep eating cheese and drinking the wine and then have more cheese and drink more wine, and continue the cycle without end.

We did not have either of these cheeses tonight, but look forward to sampling them in our upcoming wine meals: 

Green Thunder – Select Mature Cheddar with Garlic and Garden Herbs

Red Devil – Select Red Leicester with Chili and Crushed Pepper

We purchased the cheeses on sale at Lassens in Ventura.

I’ll add Sue’s Gorgonzola Dressing recipe soon!

See what others wrote about on this theme:

A Day in the Life on the Farm is trying New Wine for a New Year

Grape Experiences is sharing Try Something New: Moroccan Wine with Lamb Tagine

Culinary Adventures with Camilla will post Young Nation, Ancient Vines in Croatia: Pairing Crni Rižoto + Dingac Vinarija’s Peljesac

A Palatable Pastime is serving Duck Ragout with Creamy Polenta

L’occasion will share about The Wines of Red Mountain

ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will serve Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa and Mencía

foodwineclick will try Something Old, Something New – Flank Steak & Douro Red

Rockin Red Blog is Journeying into a Glass of the Unknown

Pull That Cork will post Loire Valley Red Meets Onion and Bacon Tart: When Old Becomes New

The Swirling Dervish will pair Lacrima di Morro d’Alba and Broccoli Rabe Lasagna

Tasting Pour is serving up Lamb Stew and Wine from Lebanon

Vino Travels will share Journey to Trentino with Teroldego and Spaghetti Carbonara

Cooking Chat is pairing Pork Tenderloin with Onions and Canary Island Wine

You can join the conversation about new wine and food pairings to go with it! Our live #winePW Twitter Chat will take place this Saturday, January 14, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Just tune into the #winePW hashtag between 11 and noon ET that day. Check out past and upcoming Wine Pairing Weekend events here.

17 thoughts on “New Year, New Wine, New Jersey? New Region, New Grapes #WinePW

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  9. Ugni Blanc is a big deal in Provence, so I’ve had my share there. New Jersey wines are absolutely new to me and you’ve given some great information here. Thanks for this post. Cheers!


  10. Pingback: Finding and Pairing Wine, Cheese, and Spirits from SouthWest France for French #Winophiles | wine predator

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