Friday, April 18, 2014

Grab Bag, Good Friday Edition

It's the Good Friday Grab Bag. Both stores are open normal hours today.

Easter Sunday Store Hours

Both our Lawrenceville and Woodbridge locations will be open from 10am to 4pm on Easter Sunday.

Tastings and Tappings

Neither store has a scheduled wine tasting this weekend. The regular schedule will resume next weekend.

Tonight, at 6pm, the Woodbridge store will tap Clown Shoes Clementine White Ale.


Lawrenceville will host Ladies' Night Out on Sunday, April 27, 7:30pm - 9:30pm. The details are here, and you can RSVP via email to Store Manager Toni Carver.

At Woodbridge, it's the Ladies' Night Wine Tasting & Art Show, also on Sunday, April 27, 7:30pm - 9:30pm. Details are here, and you can RSVP via email to Wine Manager Debbie Miller Nelson.

Please note that both events are after regular store hours, and you'll be able to shop throughout the stores.

The Father's Day bottle engraving will arrive on Sunday, June 8, from 2-5 in Lawrenceville, and 4-7 in Woodbridge. Eligible for engraving are purchases of Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select, Woodford Reserve, Woodford Reserve Double Oak, and Herradura Tequila.

Joe Canal's Fest will be held in Woodbridge on June 15, and in Lawrenceville on June 22. Details will be released soon.

New Products

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Reserva 2005 is now in stock. With an impressive 92 point rating from Wine Advocate,  Hacienda Lopez de Haro is a great choice for any day, because it's an outstanding wine that carries a Bottle Club® price of only $11.96. 

Hacienda López de Haro Reserva is a round, gentle and complex wine, made with Tempranillo and Graciano varieties, and with a classic aging of 20 months in French and American oak barrels. A medium depth wine featuring an attractive ruby red color, which denotes a long aging in barrel and bottle. Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Reserva presents a complex aroma, highlighting red fruit, perfectly combined with spicy notes and a slight char, which is provided by its long aging in French and American oak barrels. Fruity sensations and the complex character provided by its good aging dominate on the palate, with vanilla and spicy notes given by the French and American oak. 

Grey Goose Le Melon is the latest addition to the flavored vodka category. It has a strong bouquet of freshly cut melon, subtle notes of melon rind, and hints of banana and pears. It's very bright on the palate, with strong overtones of juicy melon leading into lighter notes of white citrus and almond. This might be your next summer vodka. Only $29.99 in the Bottle Club®.

We already carry a number of Captain Morgan products, with the Captain's Spiced Rum being a strong category leader. We've just added Captain Morgan White Rum to both Lawrenceville and Woodbridge. 

The pristine waters of the Caribbean inspired the creation of Captain Morgan White Rum. A white rum that is five times distilled and made with fine cane molasses, Captain Morgan White Rum is as smooth as the Captain himself. The 1.75L size is on sale in the Bottle Club® for only $25.94.

If you're a connoisseur of fine whiskey, then the next new product is for you.

We now have an extremely limited supply of Crown Royal XR (Extra Rare).  Taste the rarest in the Crown Royal Extra Rare Whisky Series, handcrafted with a unique blend that includes the final batch of whiskies from the renowned LaSalle distillery (that distillery operated from 1924 to 1993). Located on the island of Montreal, the LaSalle distillery produced whiskies with a unique richness, attributed to the fine water surrounding the island. The resulting whiskies were full-bodied and exceptionally smooth. This 750ML bottle is priced at $159.99.

Ripped From The Headlines

For brewers and distillers, it's common practice to provide leftover grain to farmers as cattle feed. The FDA is proposing changes. Read about it here.

The Wall Street Journal - Europe discusses Barolo as a great wine that is still reasonably priced. Read the article here, then seek out a Barolo from our wine team.

From the Joe Canal's family to yours, our best wishes for a Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Six-Pack of New

Every vendor of ours was rushing to make deliveries in time for Easter. If it's Thursday, then they just made it. And while we're on the subject of Easter, our stores will be open from 9am to 4pm on Sunday. Here are six of the newest products to grace our shelves.

Great Divide 20th Anniversary Ale

This Belgian-style Ale is a golden example of Great Divide's traditional bold character, but with a little something special to commemorate this milestone. Fermented with Viognier grape juice, 20th Anniversary is both delicate and assertive. Big without being brutish, cunning without being cloying, this is a grown-up beer for a big-time celebration. 8.2% ABV.

Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti

Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout is another revered incarnation of their legendary imperial stout. They toned down the hops a bit to allow cocoa nibs to contribute some pleasing bitterness, while vanilla notes from the oak combine with the cocoa to create an aroma and flavor akin to a gourmet chocolate bar. A dash of cayenne keeps things lively, adding just a bit of heat to the finish. Another great Yeti? Hell yes. 9.5% ABV.  Both Anniversary and Yeti are available in 22oz Bombers.

Now the "Six-Pack" reference in the title of this post refers to the total number of new products that we'll discuss; it's not completely about the beer today. For our beer lovers, please watch our social media on Monday's, as that's when we'll highlight most of the anticipated deliveries.

Stickybeak Cabernet Sauvignon

From the winery notes: "They say curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. There are so many sides to Napa Cabernet, although we lean toward the least trodden path - true Cabernet aromatics of violets, blackcurrant, perfumed spice and leafy notes with a seamless palate that is not overdone. Well, it almost got the better of us, but finding both a Napa valley floor and hillside vineyard to express this seamless balance was the reward we needed.

Our objective is to create a seamless Cabernet Sauvignon - nothing overdone, especially the oak. To achieve this, we sought vineyards from both the valley floor in Rutherford and Oakville, and the high reaches of Diamond Mountain. The blend of earthy, fruit driven Cabernet from the valley floor combined with chiseled hillside tannins and acidity is very appealing. This, along with a small parcel of Merlot, gave us our desired palate weight and texture.

2011 was a cooler year in Napa, which is reflected in the earthy notes and minerality on the nose. On the palate, the wine is fleshy and ripe, with notes of red currant, chocolate and coffee. Rich and deep, the wine has finely structured tannins and just a hint of eucalyptus on the finish." Only $14.99 in the Bottle Club®.

Efe Raki

From the "you haven't tried this yet?" files, we introduce Efe Raki. Raki is an unsweetened, anise-flavored alcoholic beverage that's often enjoyed as an aperitif. Raki is closely associated with Turkish culture, and it is the national drink.

Efe is the first privately-run Raki producer in Turkey, and we'll carry their Classic (Blue) and Fresh Grapes labels. 

Efe Fresh Grape Raki is produced from fresh grapes ripening under the Aegean Sun, Efe Fresh Grape Raki has an indispensable taste for Raki lovers with a flavor that appeals to different palates.

Efe Fresh Grapes is the premium and smoother version of Classic Blue Efe.

Selected top-quality grapes and anise seeds of the Aegean coast gives Efe Raki its distinct taste and unmistakeable aroma every time. Triple-distilled grape alcohol is re-distilled in pot stills to offer the quality that is appreciated by even the most discriminating Raki drinkers. 

Banshee Rose of Pinot Noir 2013

Seriously, summer will be here, and you'll want a beautiful Rose on hand.  

2013 was a great year for making rosé and the summer of 2014 will be an even better time for drinking it.  The vintage offered Pinot Noir possessing nuanced layers of fruit and great tension, enabling Banshee to make the kind of lively, pale, fragrant and vivacious rosé that everyone loves.  It is an absolute knockout.

This is a wine of flirtatious hints.  The flavors are all early spring freshness as opposed to mid-summer lushness.  White flowers and apricot blossom aromas lead into kumquat, wild mountain strawberry, stone fruit and mint flavors all riding atop a pringly spine of acidity.  Open bottles disappear quickly. 

Only $17.96 in the Bottle Club®.

So there's the 411 on 6 new items. Please stop in on Friday for the Grab Bag.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It's that day - the day we take a look at some of the newest products in our stores, or that are about to arrive.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon

Old Scout is blended from 6 and 7 year old barrels with a high rye content of 36%. This fine whiskey has the exceptional taste and smoothness that comes with age. Non chill filtered, non carbon filtered. A robust 99 proof, it’s strong, but deliciously drinkable like all of Smooth Ambler’s offerings. Bold, sweet-spicy flavors with subtle apple, cherry and tobacco aroma. Smooth Ambler is a craft distiller from West Virginia, where they know a thing or two about making whiskey. Old Scout received an impressive 95 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout is available in very limited quantities for only $34.99.

Rombauer Napa Zinfandel

Year after year, the Rombauer Napa Chardonnay is one of the most requested white wines in our stores. We've now brought in another of their wines, the 2011 Zinfandel. From the winemaker notes:  "Rich, deep purple color with a dark red hue. Opening with vibrant boysenberry and black cherry aromas. Subtle hints of spice and licorice aromas follow, inviting a taste. Jammy, luscious wild berry and cinnamon flavors weave across the palate for a succulent mouth-feel. Fresh acidity and soft tannins round out the blackberry flavored finish." This is a great red for summer barbecues, especially if wings are on the menu.

New York Yankees Wines
Two sophisticated California wines are in stock, with the NY Yankees official logo. 
The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is slowly fermented to maintain the aroma of currants and dried cherries, while extracting the colors and flavors associated with the Paso Robles region. The wine was aged in a combination of American and French oak to add complexity and to allow the wine to soften prior to bottling.

The 2012 Chardonnay comes from three select vineyards in 2 distinctly different micro climates ranging from very cool in the Green Valley area to warmer days in the Russian River plain area. The gravelly soil associated with the Russian River provides minerality and structure to grapes. Our Chardonnay had 20% malolactic fermentation to help round out the edges while maintaining the crisp Russian River influence. Aromas of apples and citrus combined with a hint of French oak make this wine enjoyable by itself or with food.

K Vintners 

Another spectacular group of wines from Washington State's Charles Smith. First, the 2011 River Rock Syrah. Sure this Walla Walla fruit came from the rocks, but man, this is different. Lean and mean, a wine for its time. Cured meat, camphor, forest floor, cool stone, and oh soooo refined tannins. 100% Syrah, this rated 93-95 points from Wine Advocate.

Then there's the 2011 Northridge Merlot, which also rated 93-95 points from Wine Advocate. Pencil shavings, graphite, cocoa powder, milk chocolate, espresso. Complex aromas of a woman's evening bag, perfume, coins, paper money, lipstick, pencil and even a broken matchbook.

Finally, we have their 2011 Clifton Hill Syrah, which only rated 92-94 from Wine Advocate. It's a "Wow" wine. Focused, rich, and kick-ass - serious stuff here! Raw meat, cedar, forest floor, coffee grounds, Asain five spice. Plenty of round tannins and a lengthy finish. 

All are available in extremely limited quantities.

Chateau Hyot

How about a Castillon - Côtes de Bordeaux that scored 90 points from Wine Spectator for under $15? Look no further. From the WS tasting notes on this 2010 vintage: "Very ripe, offering saturated cassis, blackberry and boysenberry pâte de fruit flavors that are racy and distinctive, thanks to fresh acidity and sleek tannins. The long finish has nice density. Drink now through 2016." This wine blends 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, from 40 year old vines.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday "News"day

We always prefer to spotlight one new product every Tuesday. This post will include a slight derivation, but we're still highlighting one new wine.

It's no secret that the best California Cabernet's come from the Rutherford area of Napa Valley. The great winemaker André Tchelistcheff is quoted as saying, "It takes Rutherford Dust to grow Great Cabernet." And with Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon now in stock in Lawrenceville and Woodbridge, you can find that great Cabernet at an everyday price.

Family-owned and managed and for three generations, Rutherford Ranch Winery is on the site of the original Round Hill Winery started in the 1970's, and their operations are Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing. The winemaking team crafts elegant, true-to-the-varietal wines with fruit sourced from the two estate vineyards and select vineyards sites throughout the valley. The cooler sites yield grapes with bright, rich flavors and tropical fruit characteristics. Warmer sites within the valley produce grapes with deep, intense flavors. Together they provide the winemakers with an unequaled palette of flavor and character and quality.

A portion of this Cabernet comes from the estate vineyards: Franklin, which makes up the northeast cornerstone of the Rutherford appellation; and Abela, which surrounds the winery property. Both give that distinctive ‘Rutherford Dust’ quality that is unique to the region.

The winemaking team blends in Merlot for juicy, fruitiness and a touch of Zinfandel, then ages the wine for 12 months in French and American oak barrels. This Cabernet Sauvignon has a lovely ruby color with aromas of boysenberry, currant, spearmint and dried herbs. It is a medium-full-bodied, well-balanced wine with rich tannins and has big, delicious flavors of currant, boysenberry and caramel. Perfect to drink now or can age nicely for 4 to 5 years.  Enjoy this wine with grilled meats, roast beef au jus, or Penne alla vodka and with strong cheeses such as bleu or camembert. Also delicious with your favorite chocolate desserts. And the Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon is only $15.99 in the Bottle Club®.

If you enjoy the Cabernet Sauvignon, please consider the Rutherford Ranch Merlot and Zinfandel, both of which are currently in stock.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Mixology by David Rudd

David Rudd is a Floor Manager at our Woodbridge store, as well as our resident mixologist. Today, we offer you David's most recent recipes.

The DIY Shandy

We all know how hot shandies have become.  I think it’s high time you try making your own.  Follow this simple recipe.  Add 1 shot of St. Germain Liqueur and the juice of ¼ lemon to your favorite lager.  Submerge lemon wedge in the beer and gently stir. 

The Sakura Tengoku

We celebrate spring with this cocktail.  Translated loosely to “cherry blossom heaven”, this cocktail transports you to the Far East as the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.  3 parts each sake and Maraschino liqueur, 2 parts each vodka and lime juice, and one part each Cointreau™, cranberry juice and simple syrup together in an iced cocktail shaker with 2 dashes of orange bitters.  Shake and strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a cherry blossom.  

The Manhatta

I love my whisk(e)y…but sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little different.  This is my twist on a classic Manhattan – named after the native name for the island: 2 parts dark Caribbean rum, 1 part Applejack, 1 part sweet vermouth and 2 dashes of Angostura™ bitters.  Chill, strain into a coupe and garnish with a brandied cherry.

The New York Sour

Another twist on a classic – this is how I take my Whiskey Sour.  Combine equal parts American whiskey, simple syrup and lemon juice in your shaker until ice bruises.  Pour contents into a rocks glass (half full) and top with fruity red wine…if you pour it over the back of a spoon it will layer.  The flavors combine and change as you enjoy the drink.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday Grab Bag

We're a day early this week, but there's so much going on at Joe Canal's in Lawrenceville and Woodbridge that we didn't think you'd mind.

Lawrenceville Tastings and Tappings

Tonight, at 6pm, we're tapping Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA for our weekly specialty Growler.

Friday, from 4-6pm, we're having a tasting of Lost Distillery whisky. The Lost Distillery Company is an independent boutique Scotch Whisky company. They are obsessive about the craft and uncompromising when it comes to whisky quality. Their mission is to create present day expressions of legendary whiskies that belonged to the craft of whisky distilling almost a century ago.
This is illustrated in their icon – the Triskele (above), an ancient Celtic symbol depicting reincarnation. Their interpretation of the Triskele incorporates the core components of the whisky making process – the barrel, the water and the barley.

Saturday, from 2-4pm, will be our regular weekly wine tasting. We just made an incredible purchase on Beringer Napa Chardonnay, one of the wines on the menu. Leading up to Easter, this is a value you need to sample. A Napa appellation Chardonnay for under $10? Yes. The full menu is here.

Woodbridge Tastings and Tappings

Woodbridge will host its regular wine tastings on both Friday (4-6pm) and Saturday (1-3pm). With Passover starting Monday night, you'll have the opportunity to taste two different wines that are Kosher for Passover. The full menu is here.
Immediately after the wine tasting wraps up on Friday, head over to the Growler station for the specialty tapping of Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet Black IPA.

Please note that there are no wine tastings scheduled at either store on April 18th or 19th.

Upcoming Events

In Lawrenceville: Ladies' Night Out will be after hours on Sunday, April 27. Details will be posted on our web site shortly. The Joe Canal's Fest will be Sunday, June 22. Again, details will be posted shortly.

In Woodbridge, the Ladies' Night Wine Tasting and Art Show will also be after hours on Sunday, April 27.  See our web site for details. The Joe Canal's Fest will be Sunday, June 15. Details will be posted shortly. 

Ripped From The Headlines

Thankfully, no one brought any crazy lawsuits to our attention this week. Instead, we'll direct your attention to a story from Fox News about five lesser-known grape varieties. At Joe Canal's, we stock several brands of each varietal highlighted in the article: Chenin Blanc, Gamay, Mourvedre (also called Monastrell), Tempranillo and Barbera. Read the article here, and ask to see some of those wines when you're in the store next. There are some great wines at very affordable prices among those varietals.

New Stuff

The following products have either just arrived, or will within the next couple of days:

Dashwood Pinot Noir. You've enjoyed New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir is the next varietal that they'll conquer. Dashwood wines bring the luscious, clean fruit characters of the Wairau Valley into harmony with the flinty, or mineral, characters of the Awatere (resulting from the comparatively cooler but drier temperatures and slightly less fertile soils).

Hacienda Lopez de Haro Rioja Crianza 2008. This wine will be in Lawrenceville within a couple of days, but might not reach Woodbridge at the same time. This is one you definitely should look for. Rioja is hot now anyway, but this wine scored 91 points from Wine Advocate, but will sell for only $9.96 in the Bottle Club®.

From the review: “The 2008 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Crianza is a blend of 93% Tempranillo and 7% Garnacha aged for 18 months in French and American oak. It has a mellow bouquet of dried herbs, terracotta tiles and dusky black fruit that is very well-defined. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin: tart red berried fruit, laced with tobacco and dried herbs on the dry, crisp finish. This is a superb classical Rioja Crianza.” 

Odds & Ends

Passover starts at sundown on Monday. We offer some helpful advice here.

Both stores will have limited hours on Easter Sunday, April 20. Operating hours will be 9am to 4pm.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Wine Wednesday

Maybe it's a Wine Wednesday, or maybe we just have a number of new items that we need to tell you about. Let's dive right into the new arrivals.

Domain Philippe Charlopin
Each store will only receive one case of two different wines from Domain Philippe Charlopin. The Morey Saint Denis rated 90-92 points, and the Marsannay en Montchenevoy rated 89-91 points, both from Wine Advocate. These Cote de Nuits wines are both from the 2010 vintage, with a winemaker that that delivers consistently high-quality efforts.

Bruichladdich Classic

Our selection of single-malt Scotch whisky is growing again. Bruichladdich makes some of the most compelling whisky on the market, with an unexpectedly large range of offerings. The latest, at one case per store, is the Classic Laddie, an unpeated Islay malt.

Smooth as pebbles in a pool, it’s clean, fresh and lively with both the oak and the grain in perfect harmony.

The bouquet is brilliant. Opening with barley sugar and a hint of mint before leading into the most wonderful notes of freshly cut wild flowers; buttercup, daisy, meadow-sweet, myrtle, primrose and cherry blossom. The cleanliness of the spirit is remarkable. As the seconds tick by, more aromas rise from the glass, little zephyrs of spindrift and sea pinks reminding you that this spirit is matured exclusively by the sea. After some four or five minutes and with the addition of a little water, caramelized fruits drift onto the scene; lemon drops and honey, tangerine and tablet.

The palate entry is so refined and refreshing, the sweet oak and the barley arriving together sending the taste buds into raptures. The fruits from distillation drift in on an Atlantic breeze and pop on the tongue like champagne bubbles. A combination of ripe green fruit, brown sugar and sweet malt bring closure. A taste back in time, a realization that not all single malts are equal and to achieve the absolute optimum, you must use barley that is grown in Scotland. Make this one the benchmark for all others you meet on your journey through the stills of Scotland.

More of the Pinot Project

The Pinot Project Pinot Noir has been a strong seller since we started carrying the brand. Now, we're adding two new wines from the Pinot Project team: the Pinot Project Pinot Grigio and the Chard Project Chardonnay.

Like any negociant, the Pinot Project team selects the best available wines to bring to market.  The Chardonnay is from California, and the Pinot Grigio is from Italy.

The CHARD PROJECT is hand-crafted from the finest California Chardonnay grapes; a majority of which come from Sonoma County. The wine is about half stainless steel fermented and half barrel fermented (30% of which are new). This combination gives The CHARD PROJECT a rich, lovely mouthfeel. Pure CHARD aromas and flavors – fresh apples and citrus kissed by oak and complimented by just the right amount of spice.

The Pinot Grigio is hand-crafted from the finest Italian Pinot grapes. Pure Pinot aromas and flavors - pears and citrus, unoaked to enhance the pure
fruit qualities. Extremely versatile with a host of your favorite dishes.

The items discussed on today's blog post are fewer than half of the new products that either have already arrived, or are due in within the next couple of days. Please don't hesitate to ask one of our team members to show you what's new at Joe Canal's!