Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Helping Summer Arrive

In mythology, a Banshee is a spirit, usually seen as an omen of death and a messenger from the underworld. Forget mythology; In California, a Banshee is a great new wine.

Banshee Wines was founded by three friends from the Midwest and East Coast who shared a passion for wine and a lifelong dream of owning their own winery. Their  fascination with wine started early in life. While their peers were drinking Milwaukee's Best, they had an affinity towards collecting European wines and hosting dorm room wine tastings. Post-college, each pursued a career in the wine industry, ranging from importing wines, to winemaking, to distribution and sales. When their paths ultimately converged in San Francisco, they shared many meals, bottles of wine, concerts, and laughs with one another. In 2009 they pooled their money together to make the first vintage of Banshee Wines Pinot Noir, which sold out in three short months. By the end of the year, Banshee Wines was their full-time pursuit.

The Banshee guys are passionate about creating benchmark wines from California’s iconic vineyards as well as crafting soulful blends that don't break the bank. When they’re not making wine you can find them preparing grand multi-course meals, sabering Champagne bottles, seeking out the nearest swimming hole, or dancing on tabletops. Classic guy activities.
Pinot Noir in the vineyard
2013 was a great year for making rosé and we suspect 2014 will be an even better year 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 we all love.  It is an absolute knockout successor to the previous vintage (which is still tasting wonderful one year later).

The 2013 certainly benefited from Banshee's expanded vineyard sourcing.  It contains elements of 10 different Sonoma Coast vineyards including all of their single vineyard sources.  The wine was created using about 50% saignée and 50% direct to press methods. 90% of the wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel while the remainder was aged in neutral white wine barrels giving us a nice textural component.

Tasting Notes

Once again 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®.

Monday, April 21, 2014

May Days

The first week of May has two classic holidays competing for your attention: The Kentucky Derby (always the first Saturday in May) and Cinco de Mayo. We'll help you properly prepare for those very festive occasions.

The Kentucky Derby

Before we get to the featured cocktails, two words about Kentucky cuisine: Hot Brown. Being from around here, I'd never heard of the Hot Brown until our visit to the Buffalo Trace distillery last year. There, our lunch was a Hot Brown. It's a now-classic sandwich (with many derivatives) invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby. So if you're feeling like you need a little something extra Southern for your Derby party, try this recipe from the Brown Hotel:

Ingredients (this makes 2 sandwiches)
-1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
-1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups heavy cream 
-1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
-Pinch of ground nutmeg
-Salt and pepper
-14 oz. sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
-4 slices of Texas toast (crusts trimmed)
-4 slices of bacon
-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half

In a two-quart saucepan, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino-Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

For each Hot Brown, place one slice of toast in an oven safe dish and cover with 7 oz. turkey. Take the two halves of Roma tomato and two toast points and set them alongside the base of turkey and toast. Pour half of the sauce over the dish, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.

The cocktail associated with the Kentucky Derby is, of course, the Mint Julep. And since Woodford Reserve is the Official Bourbon of the Derby (fewer than a dozen of the 2014 edition Derby bottles of Woodford Reserve remain, total, for both stores), we'll make our Mint Julep with Woodford.

-2 cups sugar
-2 cups water
-Sprigs of fresh mint
-Crushed ice
-Woodford Reserve Bourbon
-Silver Julep Cups (Collins glass is an alternative)

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Woodford Reserve. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

Cinco de Mayo

While you can find all of the Corona, Modello and Dos Equis that you might want at Joe Canal's, why not celebrate with a Margarita as well. This recipe is per drink; increase the quantities for a punch bowl.

1 oz. Familia Camarena Reposado Tequila
2 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
½ oz. Triple Sec
½ Cup ice (or more)
Lime wedge

How to Prepare
Rub the rim of a chilled margarita glass with the lime and dip into salt to coat it. In a cocktail shaker, combine Familia Camarena Reposado Tequila and orange liquor lime juice and ice. Shake vigorously and strain drink into the garnished glass filled with ice.

With these two special dates, the first weekend of May is sure to be very busy at Joe canal's in Lawrenceville and Woodbridge. We suggest you shop early for the best service and selection.

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.