Tuesday, October 21, 2014

From Casablanca

That's the Casablanca Valley in Chile. No, we don't carry any products from that other Casablanca. The Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay is our pick of the week, and here's why.

Chile is a land of soaring Andes mountains, a mild Mediterranean climate, and fine wines. From the premium wine producing regions of Chile come the best grapes, and it is here that Viña Errázuriz has been producing the highest quality Chilean wines for more than 130 years.

Don Maximiano Errázuriz founded Viña Errázuriz in 1870 in the Valle de Aconcagua, 100 kms north of the capital city, Santiago. Recognizing that this valley, with its cool, rainy winters, hot, dry summers and moist Pacific Ocean breezes, was ideal for growing grapes, Don Maximiano sent for the finest clones from France and with tenacity and perseverance transformed this barren land into a world-class vineyard.

Today, the tradition of quality lives on with Don Maximiano’s descendant, Eduardo Chadwick. Eduardo is the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the wine business.

Over the last five years, Errazuriz’ Chardonnay Wild Ferment has become recognized as perhaps the top Chardonnay from South America.  Errazuriz ferments its best lots of Chardonnay using natural yeasts. Natural fermentation starts slower than inoculated fermentation because the yeasts must grow to sufficient numbers to transform sugars into alcohol. During this period the yeasts produce by-products which add distinctive flavors and complexity to the wine. Some lots start the fermentation and eventually finish, others ferment slowly and do not finish off the sugars completely, leaving more mouth feel. These natural fermentations take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks to complete while the inoculated lots take less than a week.

This 2013 vintage was a big hit with the wine industry's professional reviewers:

"This a phenomenal white with sliced apple, papaya, and chalk with hints of slate. Turns to limes. Full body, with bright acidity and a racy acidity that goes on for minutes with the fruit. Dry austerity at the end gives it incredible character. This was fermented and aged in second and third year oak. Ten months. A triumph. A reductive structured style. Screw cap. Drink now." - 95 Points James Suckling.

"The 2013 Chardonnay Wild Ferment Aconcagua Costa, from vineyards planted in 2004-2005 on schist soils on the coastal part of the Aconcagua valley, 10-12 kilometers from the sea, is fermented with indigenous yeasts in French oak barriques (and aged there for 10 months, 0% new). Fifteen percent of the wine went through malolactic fermentation, because it was a cold year and they wanted to give it more volume, with no battonage and only 13% alcohol. The nose is very clean, with well-integrated wood, orange peel, crisp aromas of citric fruits, high acidity, great freshness and minerality. The wine is light to medium-bodied, sharp and delineated, in a Chablis way. Drink 2014-2018."  - 90 Points Wine Advocate.

This great Chardonnay is available at Joe Canal's for only $22.99.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Dram a Day

As a category, Scotch whisky can be a little challenging to a novice. Distillery names can be difficult to pronounce, and the right inflection for the region of Islay (eye-la) can also be elusive. The styles of Scotch are intriguing, but where to start? What's light and sweet? What's heavy and peaty? How can I tell the difference? Joe Canal's is here to help.

On Monday, October 27, in conjunction with Bruichladdich (brook-laddie), we're offering two FREE, hour-long tasting sessions, exploring five different drams.

Bruichladdich believes that Islay whisky should have an authenticity derived from where it is distilled and where it is matured...from the philosophies of those who distill it.

At this intimate, private event you will learn about what sets Bruichladdich apart and why terroir matters while tasting authentic Islay whisky in five distinct styles. If you have a passion for single malts and enjoy fine spirit that captures rich history and tradition in every bottle, then come experience Bruichladdich with a small, inspired group of fellow Scotch enthusiasts.

There will be two sessions, each limited to 25 people, each running 60 minutes. One is at 6:30pm, the other at 8pm.

Participants will sample:
-The Botanist gin ("Welcome" drink, either neat or gin & tonic)
-Bruichladdich Black Art
--Scottish Barley
--Islay Barley
--Port Charlotte

Light hors d'oeuvres will also be available.

Click here to RSVP, or call the store at 732-726-0077.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Your Weekly Grab Bag

It's Friday, and that means it's time for our weekly round-up of events, news and new products that we call the Grab Bag. Since it's also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which leads to two very busy months in the stores, this will be a pretty full report.


Lawrenceville kicks off its weekend with the regular weekly wine tastings, 4-6pm today and 2-4pm tomorrow. Click here to see the tasting menu. At 5pm today, we also have the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp tapping, featuring Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock and Torpedo Pilsner. Click here to read more about the Beer Camp tappings, which are 5pm every Friday in October.

The big event of the weekend, of course, in Ladies Night Out, happening after hours on Sunday, October 19. Admission is free, with your advance RSVP. Click here to see the full agenda for Ladies Night Out in Lawrenceville. Ladies Night Out will benefit the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Wine tasting at a previous Ladies Night Out
Looking ahead just about 10 days, we're hosting an in-store Beer Dinner on October 29, featuring Weyerbacher. We'll have the complete details available early next week.

Woodbridge doesn't have Ladies Night Out until October 26, but it's still a very busy weekend. Today's wine tasting is 4-6pm, and it's a Staff Picks menu. Click here for that menu. At 6pm, we also have the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp tapping, featuring Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock. Click here to read about the Beer Camp tappings at Woodbridge.

Saturday's wine tasting will feature selections from Barton & Guestier. With almost three centuries of experience in the wine business, Barton & Guestier is the 1st French brand name, with a range that represents  the wonderful diversity of French wines from the main winegrowing regions: Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, Languedoc, Gascony and Corsica. The tasting will run at our regular time, 1-3pm.

Later in the day, we're offering a tasting of Deep Eddy Vodka. That runs from 5-7pm.

As we noted, Ladies Night Out in Woodbridge is October 26. Admission is free, with your advance RSVP, and the evening will benefit Susan G. Komen. Click here for the full schedule of Ladies Night Out.

The crew at Dominic's
There are a couple of other events worth noting at Woodbridge. On October 29, we're hosting a wine dinner at Dominic's Italian Restaurant in Avenel. You'll enjoy four great courses perfectly paired with four different wines. Click here for information.

On November 14, we're hosting an in-store beer dinner with Kane Brewing. Details will be posted shortly.

New Products

Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay. Over the last five years, Errazuriz’ Chardonnay Wild Ferment has become recognized as perhaps the top Chardonnay from South America. James Suckling scored this vintage at 95 points, writing, "This a phenomenal white with sliced apple, papaya, and chalk with hints of slate. Turns to limes. Full body, with bright acidity and a racy acidity that goes on for minutes with the fruit. Dry austerity at the end gives it incredible character. This was fermented and aged in second and third year oak. Ten months. A triumph. A reductive structured style. Screw cap. Drink now."

                                      Ripped from the Headlines

Click here for an update on the Napa Valley earthquake.

The science is settled: Beer is delicious. Click here to discover the actual science that went into that breakthrough.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ladies Night Out, Lawrenceville and Woodbridge

The team at Joe Canal's gives back to the community in many different ways. One of the most important causes we're involved with annually is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. As a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, both stores are hosting a Ladies Night Out, to raise funds for this important cause.

In Lawrenceville, Ladies Night Out will be this Sunday, October 19, from 7:30-9:30pm. Because this is an after-hours event, we do need an RSVP. Your advance RSVP, however, does get you free admission.

We have about a dozen different vendors participating in Ladies Night Out, for your shopping enjoyment. Your can test and purchase skin care items, handbags, fashion jewelry, accessories, candles, and so much more. Di Bruno Bros. will be on hand with samples of their delicious cheese. And, of course, there will be plenty of wines to taste.

To help you appreciate what you're sampling, Wine Manager Kevin Saunders will host a wine tasting class (free, with advance RSVP) during the event.

Please click here to visit our website and see all of the details.

In Woodbridge, Ladies Night Out will be next Sunday, October 26, also from 7:30-9:30pm. Here as well, your advance RSVP gets you free admission to the event.

Woodbridge will also have about a dozen vendors participating, including the Man Made Barber Shop. If you'd like to bring your man along, he can get a hot towel shave or haircut for a $5 donation to Susan G. Komen.

As a part of Ladies Night Out, you're invited to participate in the "Undead Gorgeous" Halloween costume contest. Dress up in your best Halloween costumes to compete for a $50 gift card to Vito Mazza Salon. Please note that masks, face paint, or anything else that covers your face cannot be included in your costume.

We will also have a number of door prize drawings, and attendees will receive a goodie bag upon leaving. Please click here to visit the Woodbridge website to get full details on Ladies Night Out.
We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Buyer Tested, Staff Approved

On a Wine Wednesday, it seems appropriate that we review some of the latest additions to our inventory. And, as we're at the cusp of the busiest time of the year, it's worth noting that some items will have very limited availability.

Mullan Road Cellars Red

This is one of those limited-availability items-a Washington wine from a California superstar. Mullan Road Cellars is a journey into Washington winemaking led by Dennis Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars. Drawn by the high quality of wines and the camaraderie of the Walla Walla wine community, Dennis and winemaker Aryn Morell worked with the famed Seven Hills Vineyard on the southern edge of the Walla Walla Valley appellation as well as vineyards in the soon-to-be-recognized Royal Slope appellation to craft this powerful yet elegant Bordeaux-style Red Blend.

Vibrant notes of blackberry, black currant, plum skin and dark baking spices. Concentrated and polished, with a touch of dried herbs, tea leaves and a dried berry potpourri. The fruits are ripe though poised with fresh squeezed berries, licorice, toast and raspberry intermingling with an intriguing hint of smoke and resin. The palate is polished and beautifully textured, with finely integrated tannins. An elegant and age worthy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Pairs well with any red meat on the grill, pork tenderloin, heavy cheeses and grilled vegetables. Only $49.99 in the Bottle Club®.

La Serena Brunello di Montalcino Gemini 2004

Rated an impressive 95 points from Wine Spectator. Their review: "Dark red in color, showing impressive aromas of dried dark fruits, with slightly toasty oak and dark chocolate. Full-bodied, with a wonderful core of ripe, beautiful fruit and racy, polished tannins. Very long and beautiful. A new wine for this producer. Drink now. 545 cases made."

$63.99 in the Bottle Club®.

Renwood Clarion Red Blend

Situated in the picturesque Amador County of northern California, Renwood Winery is surrounded by the rolling hills and rushing streams of California's gold country. Renwood was established in 1993 and is one of the most respected wine producers in the Sierra Foothills, specializing in Zinfandel.

The 2011 Clarion is Renwood's flagship red blend. Composed of Zinfandel and Syrah it is deep dark red in color and is loaded with aromas of dried cranberries, pie crust and candied cloves. Fresh and succulent
upon entry, this wine is ultra soft and rich across the palate. Concentrated flavors of raspberries and chocolate covered cherries course their way from front to back.

50% Zinfandel, 35% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah, 5% Barbera. Only $14.49 in the Bottle Club®.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Another Gil Family Cousin

Many of our favorite Spanish wines come from the Gil Family Estates. If you've enjoyed Juan Gil, El Nido, Clio, Can Blau, Atteca, among so many others, then you're already familiar with the Gil Family Estates.

Under the brand name of Orowines, the Gil Family has developed some wines with a different, uninhibited and modern image. These are wines coming from different Spanish vineyards in where the Group has placed its wineries. White and red wines are produced with surprising freshness and elegance prevailing in all phases of their tasting.

We've just added their Orowines Priorat BlueGray to our shelves. BlueGray is a reference to the local Catalan soil type. Slate, known locally as llicorella with its blue-grey color and flat texture, warms quickly in the sun and traps heat. Yielding intense, terroir-specific wines from the rugged mountains, the poor organic soils challenge local varieties like Grenache and Mazuelo to the utmost. The acidity will coat the sides of your mouth, and the tobacco and spice will temper the raspberry jam flavors. Rustic, earthy, spicy, and wildly aromatic, this Priorat is great at the dinner table with a wide variety of food.

BlueGray is 45% Garnacha, 30% Mazuelo, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's excellent with a mild chili, upscale burgers, or most Spanish food.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Mixology

We all know that Halloween is one of the more fun party nights of the year. With October 31st being a Friday, we have a feeling that you're looking for something a little different, and we're always here to help. Try these cocktails recipes that your guests, whether or not they're Undead, will love.

Dark and Stormy Death Punch

The ingredients:
Here's lookin' at you
One 20-ounce can lychees in heavy syrup
1/4 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger
16 brandied cherries
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
12 ounces Gosling's Black Rum
Three 12-ounce cans of Gosling's Ginger Beer
Ice cubes

The process:
1. In a small saucepan, bring the lychee syrup and ginger to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, stuff 16 lychees with brandied cherries. Set each lychee in the cup of a mini muffin pan or in an ice cube tray. Strain the lychee-ginger syrup and pour it over the lychees. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
3. Meanwhile, in a pitcher, stir the sugar into the lime juice until dissolved. Add the rum and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
 4. Unmold the lychee ice cubes into a small punch bowl. Pour in the lime-rum mixture. Add the ginger beer, stir gently and serve in ice-filled glasses.

Hot Spiced Wine

2 bottles light-bodied red wine (try the Pinot Project Pinot Noir)
1 1/4 cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
3 black peppercorns, crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed
One 3-inch cinnamon stick, crushed
1 clove, crushed
1/2 cup Leroux Kirschwasser

In a large saucepan, combine the red wine with the sugar and the orange and lemon zests. Put the spices in a tea ball and add to the saucepan. Bring the wine to a very slow simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, discard the tea ball and stir in the kirsch. Ladle the spiced wine into heatproof glasses and serve at once.you can also use this recipe instead of a more traditional mulled wine.

Devil's Island Daiquiri

1 tablespoon sugar
Dash of Fee Brothers Old Fashion bitters or Angostura bitters
1 lime wedge
2 ounces Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
1 1/2 tablespoons honey mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 cup crushed ice

On a plate, mix the sugar with the bitters. Moisten the outer rim of a large chilled coupe with the lime wedge, then coat the rim with the sugar mixture. In a blender, combine the rum, honey mixture, lime juice and crushed ice and blend at high speed until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into the prepared coupe. Since this is basically a cold buttered rum, you could try this instead of eggnog.