If you haven’t heard of The Judgement of Paris you should check out the film Bottle Shock starring a pre-Star Trek Chris Pine. If you haven’t heard of The Judgement of Princeton, you should check out Unionville Vineyards.
Tucked away in the hills of Revolutionary New Jersey not far from Princeton, Unionville is the leader in high class, home grown wines at affordable prices. With Unionville it’s all about style. Set amid the rolling acres of vines are a brick farmhouse dating back to 1858 and a huge red barn that houses a rustic tasting bar and seating area. Acoustic jams echo through the beams on weekends and special events.
For $10 we selected 8 wines from a list of 17 broken into four series: George, Fox, Artisan, and Single Vineyard. Given that this particular weekend was the launch of three new single vineyard Chardonnays, grown at three separate vineyard locations across the state, I aimed toward the latter series selecting the Bell Well, Mountain Road and Pheasant Hill to try first.
According to our tasting guide, the Bell Well is the most popular of the three single vineyard Chardonnays, described by the winemaker as “full but retrained with wonderful balance.” It is a friendly Chardonnay to be sure and my husband, who despises all things oak and dry admired it the most out of the three in the series. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Bell Well. It is clean, fresh, smooth and lacking the kind of overwhelming buttery nature that makes a Chardonnay so incredibly offensive.
But, if you want to challenge yourself, head towards the Mountain Road. Again, a dry Chardonnay, the Mountain Road takes a turn in a completely different direction rocking a stone fruit flavor and butterscotch vibe. The winemaker advises, “Cellar aging for a year or two will reap you great rewards!” While Bell Well was recommended best served with seafood, the Mountain Road can handle a chicken or pork dish. Like sweet but hate the sugar? Mountain Road’s rich essence will satisfy your craving.
Pheasant Hill placed second in the infamous Judgement at Princeton in 2012. It isn’t hard to taste why. When you say “Chardonnay” you don’t exactly think Meyer Lemon, but that is the flavor that dances across your palate as you sip the white gold elixir, along with a fair amount of orange and kiwi. Bid farewell to the buttery oak and say hello to all that is Chardonnay with this bright, surprising wine that is guaranteed to age 5-10 years and rock your Thanksgiving table.
While my palate also admired the Fields of Fire, Revolutionary Red and 2012 Riesling, I especially enjoyed the Fox Series’ Albarino 2012. Grown at their Cape May vineyards, this Spanish grape thrives in the sun of the Jersey shore producing a rich, ripe taste described by the winemaker as a “bright acidity.” Carrying a tropical flair, Albarino challenges the average American wine drinker’s assumptions about what constitutes a dry white. Personally, I’ll take this over Pinot Grigio any day.
Finesse is inherent in the wines of Unionville Vineyards. Strong competitors on the international wine scene, Unionville is leading the charge for the wines of the Garden State.