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New Jersey wines get their due


“The Judgment of Princeton,” they’re calling it. In a blind tasting of French and New Jersey wines, a Garden State Chardonnay came in second, while its Bordeaux-style reds took the #3 and #5 slots.

Quoting the Wall Street Journal, “The results were … surprising. Although the winner in each category was a French wine (Clos de Mouches for the whites and Mouton-Rothschild for the reds) NJ wines are at eye level. Three of the top four whites were from New Jersey. The best NJ red was ranked place 3. An amazing result given that the prices for NJ average at only 5% of the top French wines.”

Here are the complete results, according to the online pub,

1 Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos Mouches 2009 FRA
2 Unionville Chardonnay 2010 NJ
3 Heritage Chardonnay 2010 NJ
4 Silver Decoy “Black Feather” Chardonnay NJ
5 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet FRA
6 tied Bellview Chardonnay 2010 NJ
6 tied Domaine Macr-Antonin Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru 2009 FRA
8 Amalthea Cellars Chardonnay 2008 NJ
9 Ventimiglia Chardonnay 2010 NJ
10 Jean Latour-Labille Meursault-Charmes Premier Cru 2008 FRA

1 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 2004 FRA
2 Chateau Haut-Brion 2004 FRA
3 Heritage Estate Reserve BDX 2010 NJ
4 Chateau Montrose 2004 FRA
5 Tomasello Cabernet Sauvignon “Oak Reserve” 2007 NJ
6 Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2004 FRA
7 Bellview Lumiere 2010 NJ
8 Silver Decoy Cabernet Franc 2008 NJ
9 Amalthea Cellars Europa VI 2008 NJ
10 Four JG’s Cabernet Franc 2008 NJ

It’s hard to know what to make of this. The judges reputedly were “vineyard owners, international wine critics and journalists, including three from Belgium and France,” which sounds pretty much on the up and up. I, myself, have never had a New Jersey wine. I did a search of Wine Enthusiast’s database for New Jersey wines and found a few dozen, with scores ranging from 81 to 87 points. The 2010 Unionville Chardonnay that came in second in the tasting was in our database, with the 2005 vintage getting 84 points.

There are several possibilities to explain this. (1) New Jersey wines are getting better, fast. (2) The result was a “one-off” that should be viewed with the utmost suspicion. (3) It just shows to go that blind tasting can reveal surprising things. If there are other possibilities, I’m not aware of them.

At any rate, I’d like to taste some of those Joisey wines myself.

P.S. If you were having trouble earlier this week accessing my blog through Google or Yahoo searches, that problem’s been fixed. There was never any issue with the blog itself; it was search engines that had been compromised. I’m not sure how it happened, but we’re looking into it, and when I find out, I’ll let you know.

  1. Here is the list of judges. Outside of Tyler and Linda, I don’t know any of the others. Thanks to Robert Kenney who provided it on a Squires board thread started on 5/23/12:

    Wine Judges:
    Jean-Marie Cardebat, Professor of Economics, Université de Bordeaux
    Tyler Colman,
    John Foy, Wine Columnist The Star Ledger;
    Olivier Gergaud, Professor of Economics, BEM Bordeaux Management School
    Robert Hodgson, owner, Fieldbrook Winery, CA
    Linda Murphy, co-author of American Wine; Decanter
    Danièle Meulders, Professor of Economics, Université Libre de Bruxelles
    Jamal Rayyis, Gilbert & Gaillard Wine Magazine
    Francis Schott, Stage Left Restaurant, New Brunswick;

  2. In 2007 while working at Hanna Winery’s tasting room, I had the opportunity to taste the 2005 Heritage Chardonnay. By California wine standards it came up very short.

    My understanding at the time was that they were hiring a winemaker with California winemaking experience.

    Clearly something/someone has improved their Chardonnay in the last five vintages given the third place finish.

  3. Peter Minde says:

    Most people who’ve done time, er, spent time in the NJ wine business will know of John Foy. He ran several successful restaurants with good wine lists. Personally I’m unfamiliar with Stage Left but they have a good reputation here.

  4. Doug Wilder, perhaps these judges were not of the highest caliber.

  5. Caliber not withstanding, the judges represent a combination of skills, preferences, biases and experience, that makes these types of tastings such a crapshoot, I’m keeping an open mind on NJ wine though doubtful any will cross my desk soon. If Lenn Thompson at the NY Cork Report haven’t explored these yet, I hope they will.

  6. Haven’t heard any explanation for the choice of 2004 as the vintage for Bordeaux… Haven’t had too many myself, but I know it was reputed to be a fairly average vintage? Obviously the wines are still expensive, but in a bad vintage in Bordeaux it seems like you are paying more for the name than the juice (sadly)…

  7. Michael says:

    Love to place this article in one of my magazine called Shore Social Magazine.

    Last month we highlighted wineries in Cape May County.

    Love the article/post. Love to share it with our readers, of course we will credit and post your blog on the page.

    Let me know your thoughts.


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