Posted by: tomciocco | March 26, 2012


I guess that the easy joke here might be to suggest that this wine be re-named “White Hawse”, or maybe some quip about  just an equine head in a bed, considering that this is a New Jersey winery’s homage to the legendary right bank Bordeaux house of Cheval Blanc (insert expected horrified face here). This wine in fact originates from a tiny town called Atco deep in the coniferous wilds of South Jersey, a place that is far removed from all of the Jersey stereotypes, and that looks a hell of a lot more like North Carolina than Newark or Neptune.

Atco sits within one of three A.V.A.s (American Viticultural Areas) that exist in New Jersey, this one with the name Outer Coastal Plain. This A.V.A.  extends over all or parts of 9 different New Jersey counties, making it probably too large to be really representative of all the actual terroirs in the region, but that’s another post altogether. That said, as the name suggests, the O.C.P. A.V.A. is mostly flat to lightly hilly terrain with a preponderance of sandy/loamy soil, with moderately cold winters, and very warm to hot summers. With these particulars, it’s no wonder that Amalthea Cellar’s winemaker at some point began to begin production of a Cabernet Sauvignon-free (this wine is composed of 2 parts Cabernet Franc, and 1 part Merlot) Cheval Blanc-style wine whose terroir is not dissimilar from this particular patch of the Garden State. It’s made clear on the label that they’re not trying to imitate Cheval Blanc, but rather honor the traditional blending skills of the Bordeaux greats…

Well, Cheval Blanc this is not for sure, but apart from some slightly overly aggressive oaking (for me – others won’t be bothered by the level of oaking at all), the quality of the fruit is pretty impressive. The grub that went with this faux Bordeaux was just plain old chicken soup with rice, and then cheeseburgers, fries, and a green salad…I have to say that it was an uncommonly good pairing with the hard to match classic burger platter with the usual condiments.









Amalthea Cellars Outer Coaastal Plain Legends Edition Europa IV 2007

Sultry, medium-deep garnet color. Initially heavy coconut-scented oak aromas to a large degree blow off (probably should have decanted) revealing sophisticated aromas of dried flowers, baking spices, dried currants, walnut butter, pine, and watermelon. The body of the wine is medium weight, with a very appealing satiny texture, fine tannins, a great “cut”,  focused, juicy strawberry and plum fruit, and flavors of cinnamon, cocoa powder and earthy, graphite flavors. The finish “grows” nicely and lingers long with warm cherry skin and cola notes.

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