Inside Jersey Magazine Predicts New Jersey Wines Will Get More Respect

New Jersey winemakers have traditionally stood in the shadow of their bigger brothers and sisters on the West Coast and in New York State. But that picture changed dramatically in 2008 and 2009 when New Jersey wines began taking first place in some of the biggest wine competitions on both coasts.

A New Jersey Chardonnay took first place in the International Finger Lakes Competition in 2009. And a dry Riesling from New Jersey bested several hundred from around the world at the venerable San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition as well. Blind testings supervised by certified wine experts in the southern part of the state saw New Jersey blends beating out French Bordeaux and California reds.

In December, Wine Writer T.J. Foderaro of Inside New Jersey Magazine summer it all up, offering his predictions for wine around the world for 2010. Here’s his report on New Jersey:

“My business has exploded, even in the recession,” says Louis Caracciola, owner and winemaker at Amalthea Cellars in Camden County.

“During the past decade, New Jersey’s wine industry has grown in both quantity and quality. Prior to the economic downturn, there was a burst of vineyard development, bringing the number of wineries in the state to 34, according to Caracciola. While the rate of winery openings has slowed, the push to improve quality has accelerated.

“At the forefront of that effort is Caracciola himself. He’s convinced that New Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain—one of two officially classified wine=growing regions in the state—is capable of producing Bordeaux-style wines every bit as good as the Napa Valley, or Bordeaux itself. To prove it, he has sponsored several “blind” tastings in which independent judges compared his wines to some top California and French vintages. In each case, Amalthea wines have come out on top.

“Caracciola’s specialty is blends of Bordeaux grapes such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. “They’re complex and they change in interesting ways over time,” he says.

“And given the quality level, they’re reasonably priced. His Legends series—honoring the blending traditions of Bordeaux communes such as Margaux and Saint-Emilio—sell for $25 to $30 a bottle. In some of the blind tastings, Caracciola sponsored, Amalthea wines outperformed Bordeaux labels costing several hundred dollars a bottle.”


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