If there is a winery in New Jersey that has been elevated to local superstar status over the past few years, it is Amalthea Cellars in Atco. Founder and winemaker Louis Caracciolo planted the first vineyards on the Amalthea Farm in 1976. Since he first planted vines over thirty years ago, Caracciolo has been consistent in delivering his winemaking mission – producing quality wine from grapes that are most suitable to the south Jersey climate and allowing those grapes to express their sense of place with minimal interference.
Reflecting his experiences both in Bordeaux and California, Caracciolo produces both blends and 100% varietal wines. When crafting both styles of wine, Caracciolo winemaking must follow three basic tenets. First, the grapes must speak of their climate and soil. Secondly, winemaking must be made as naturally as possible with as little use of chemical and vinification adjustments as possible. Thirdly (and most expensively), the best wines must be held back in to gain depth and character before release. And coming from a state where many wines are produced without vintage indication, Caracciolo is certainly going against the grain as his wines need time to settle down in the bottle. Caracciolo considers himself an artist as much as a winemaker and says that, “the winemaker must follow the form of the wine as it emerges and dances with what the wine needs as it needs it.”
And in the past couple of years, Amalthea Cellars has been recognized as one of not only New Jersey’s best winemaking facilities, but is mentioned with some of the greatest names from Caracciolo’s two inspirations – California and Bordeaux. In October 2007, George Taber, wine critic who presided over the ‘Judgment of Paris’ in 1976 where then relatively unknown California winemakers bested the heavyweights from Bordeaux in a blind tasting. After being invited to a similar tasting with Caracciolo’s added to the lineup, Taber paid Amalthea Cellars the ultimate compliment – their wines belonged alongside Chateau Montrose, Stag’s Leap, Chateau Montelena and Mouton-Rothschild as some of the best Cabernet-based wines in the world. And just last year the tasting was recreated to prove that Amalthea’s wines should be consistently regarded as some of the best in the world and once again their wines were once again the best in show as a majority of the 100 tasters invited preferred the 2001 Amalthea Cabernet Franc over an offering from Chateau Cheval-Blanc.
209 Vineyard Road
Atco, New Jersey