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Friday, March 31, 2017

A Tour Of Sicily

 

Happy Friday, Joe Canal’s Wine Fans!

Last year, we put together an absolutely killer mixed case of French wines, some of which were very limited and never made it to our shelves. Every once in a while, we get our hands on a few wines that are truly special, but are also in relatively short supply. I simply couldn’t pass these up, and we now have a stellar 12 bottle mixed case of Sicilian wines available for 11 lucky wine drinkers.


 Let me give you the run down. First off, all of these wines are the result of sustainable, organic or biodynamic production. (Get used to hearing those 3 words, folks.) These are very small production wines, and are very unique. Those of you that aren’t familiar with wines from this Mediterranean region, get ready to fall in love. I’ve been on quite the Sicilian kick for the past few weeks, and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. The 12 bottles in this case are the best of our current lineup. There are a few more coming in that we just tasted. Don’t worry. These will be on the shelves soon.

Winemaker, Arianna Occhipinti is a total rock star in my book. Her wines are all a true expression of her love and respect for the terroir where her wines are produced. Occhipinti is located in Vittoria, in the southwest corner of Sicily. Her first wine was produced in 2004, and in 2005, her wines became internationally distributed. Her love definitely comes across in a big way when drinking her wines. We were able to get our hands on a case of 2 of her wines, and we jumped on it.

Il Frappato Terre Siciliane I.G.T. 2014


Frappato is commonly used as a blending grape, and I don’t know of many, if any wines made from it flying solo. It’s origins are that of a “peasant grape”, but this is no peasant wine. This Frappato comes from 40 year olds vines, and is made using only the indigenous yeast. “bitter, bloody and elegant” are the words she uses to describe this wine, and she considers this wine to be the one that most resembles her brave, original and rebellious nature.

Look for wild raspberry and blueberry, a hint of licorice, and absolutely none of the barnyard funk that’s so often associates with “natural wines” in this style. Her wines are classified I.G.T. as she doesn’t always like to age her wines in oak as long as is required by the authorities to have it classified as D.O.C.

Siccagno Nero D’Avola Terre Siciliane I.G.T. 2014


Siccagno is what the the people of Sicily call Nero D’Avola. This wine is fresh, fruity, wild and elegant. Once again, this wine is all naturally produced. Look for big, bright red fruit flavor, with sweet and earthy tannins. Some of you may with to decant this one for a short time, but I really love seeing how a wine evolves in the glass as I’m drinking it. Personally, I’d dive right in.

Marco De Bartoli Rosso de Marco Pignatello 2014


Pignatello, also known as Perricone, is another indigenous varietal to Sicily. De Bartoli is based in Marsala, in southern Sicily. This wine has plenty of fruit flavors, but some savory overtones as well. This wine is medium bodied, very soft, full of brambly fruit, a wonderful nose, and hints of herbs and sundried tomato. Organically produced. This is the only red Marco De Bartoli produces. The rest of his wines are Grappa, Marsala, and white wines.

Firriato Le Sabbie Dell’Etna Bianco D.O.C. 2015


From the volcanic folds marking the land of Castiglione di Sicilia, the vineyard creates a landscape of charming beauty. Etna is a triumph of nature, where vines have been companions to black lava stone and lemon-yellow broom. This wine bears witness to the land in which it is produced, captivating with the dazzling beauty of its colour and the clarity of the varietal aromas of the ripe white flesh of pears and peaches. The elegant tangy palate is the overriding taste distinguishing this blend of Carricante and Catarratto, made even more emblematic by its persistent freshness.

Passopisciaro Scinniri Rosso I.G.T. 2014


This wine is a blend of Nerello Mascalese, Cesanese, and Petit Verdot. Medium bodied from vineyards on the north side of Mount Etna. This wine is concentrated, yet elegant. Delicate, but meaty. This is one of the wines that really started my whole obsession with Sicilian wines. Hopefully, it will start yours as well.

Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso D.O.C. 2015


Made from very fine Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from low yielding vineyards (35 Hl. Per hectar), both young and old.

The grapes are macerated until the end of fermentation. The wine then continues its life in wood until bottled roughly one year after harvest. Even young it is a distinguished wine. Fresh, fragrant, beautifully slender and with a fine grip, it has a natural polish, a stage presence, as it were. And, in aging, as its weave gathers into rich complexity, it is a wine for gentlemen. It is an aristocratically liberal wine: enjoy it with whatever food you wish, as long as its properly cooked.

Graci Etna Rosso 2014


This wine scored a 93 point score in Wine Enthusiast. "This fragrant red offers alluring scents of rose, red berry and cake spice. The radiant, structured palate is endowed with finesse, offering ripe black cherry, raspberry, licorice and flinty mineral. Firm, refined tannins and bright acidity provide the framework. Drink 2020 through 2025." - Kerin O'Keefe, Aug 2016

100% Nerello Mascalese.

Agricola Altomonte Antonino, Palizzi Rosso 2014


This wine is the only one in this lineup that comes from the mainland of Italy. It’s from Calabria, which is the “toe” of Italy. This wine is so good, that we had to make an exception. A blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nero D’Avola, and organic/sustainably produced.

A wine that exudes aromas of ripe red fruit, especially plum and cherry, in a gorgeous balance of structure and acidity. Tart red berries, earth tones of forest floor and rusticity. Rich in flavors, not heavy in the mouth, but explosive with spice and brazen but integrated tannins. Long and lingering. 
Great with braised meats and hard, salty cheeses.

The last 4 wines are from Tenuta Rapitala. Check out our blog post about them here.

Tenuta Rapitalà, Hugonis Cabernet Sauvignon 2009


Although the importer states that this is Cabernet Sauvignon only, there is a bit of Nero D’Avola blended in as well.

Deep red color, full and complex bouquet with definite varietal notes, very well structured, abundant tannins and a long and lingering aftertaste.

Tenuta Rapitalà, Sicilia Syrah Nadir 2014


Intense ruby-red color with damask-violet tints. Generous bouquet with touches of ripe fruit and the typical spices of this grape variety, with attractive hints of vanilla. The flavor is full and delicate, with soft and elegant tannins. A balanced marriage between the depth of this product and the uniqueness of this exceptional terroir.

I’ve gotten so many customers hooked on this one, that’s it’s difficult to keep on the shelves.

Tenuta Rapitalà, Sicilia Nuhar 2013


Bright, ruby-red color and a bouquet with strong aromas of dried and syrup fruits. The palate is warm and full with a balanced acidity and elegant tannins. The finish is long and lingering and at this point, we discover again the classic aromas of a Pinot Noir ripened by the hot, Sicilian sun.

This is a blend of Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) and Nero D’Avola

Tenuta Rapitalà, Terre Siciliane Chardonnay Grand Cru 2015


100% Chardonnay. Aged in barriques, this Sicilian Chardonnay is dominated by wood. It opens with aromas of oak extract, toast, vanilla and butterscotch that all carry over to the warm palate alongside warm notes of lemon drop, yellow apple skin, walnut.

I hope that you enjoy this selection of wines as much as I do. Only 11 of these cases are available. Wait. Make that 10. One of them is going to my house.

If purchased separately, this wine lineup would run you close to $400. Special price for this limited offering, only $309.99. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Cheers! -Bob 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wines from Long Island, New York

I'll be the first person to admit that I've developed a rather eclectic wine palate over the past several years. I'm lucky to work in a place where trying new things are encouraged, and as a team, our wine department has come a long way as far as offering unique selections from small wineries. My personal interests in certain wines shift from time to time, and I'm always looking for something new to recommend to our customers. I've got to say that I've recommended some pretty obscure bottles, and for me that's the fun. The more obscure, the better.

So, can someone please tell me why everyone looks at me like I have 2 heads every time I mention wines from Long Island? "Long Island wines? Really?!!" Yes. Really. And boy are they good!
Many of our customer are familiar with wines from the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York, and some of them are excellent. Long Island is a completely different climate, so we suggest, for now, forgetting everything you think you might expect from these selections, and just go with it.

Allow me to introduce you to 2 new wines (new to us, anyway) from Wölffer Estate. These just landed at our Fire Road location on Wednesday, and have already sparked some interest. I don't necessarily recommend always judging a wine by it's label, but they did do a pretty nice job. I would also like to mention that Wölffer Estate is 100% sustainable with their entire production, which should make you feel good, not just when you drink them, but also the next day.

Wölffer Estate Chardonnay 2014



100% Chardonnay.

REGION:
Appellation: Long Island. Produced and bottled in Sagaponack, New York.
Under the meticulous care of Winemaker/Partner Roman Roth and Vineyard Manager Rich Pisacano, our vineyard encompasses 55 acres of sustainably farmed vines. Our unique combination of Bridgehampton loam soil and ocean breezes from the Atlantic, only 2.6 miles away, provide Bordeaux-like conditions, perfect to achieve the balance of ripeness and acidity of Wölffer's signature style: European elegance paired with the distinct typicity of Long Island terroir. When grapes are sourced outside our vineyard, they must meet rigorous Wölffer quality standards.


WINEMAKER’S NOTES:
Bright gold in color, this Chardonnay has fantastic aromas of ripe peach and apricot topped with a cream. The mouth-feel is zaftig with beautiful play between the pure, ripe fruit, sun-drenched and concentrated berry flavors and elegant acidity. The finish is long with creamy lees, plush alcohol and lingering stone-fruit flavors. A very versatile, food-friendly wine with great aging potential.

Winery direct price, $19. About $15/bottle from Joe Canal's!

Wölffer Estate Cabernet Franc 2014



75% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon

Appellation:
Long Island, New York. Produced and bottled in Sagaponack, New York.
Under the meticulous care of Winemaker/Partner Roman Roth and Vineyard Manager Rich Pisacano, our vineyard encompasses 55 acres of sustainably farmed vines. Our unique combination of Bridgehampton loam soil and ocean breezes from the Atlantic, only 2.6 miles away, provide Bordeaux-like conditions, perfect to achieve the balance of ripeness and acidity of Wölffer's signature style: European elegance paired with the distinct typicity of Long Island terroir. When grapes are sourced outside our vineyard, they must meet rigorous Wölffer quality standards.


Winemaker's Notes:
Dark red almost black in color. Wonderful aromas of cassis, prunes, red cherry, and toasted sandalwood fill the glass. The mouth-feel is full, but not heavy, with lots of fruit, more cherry, blueberry, and ripe plums. Well balanced by ripe tannins, a beautiful acidity and classic crushed stone minerality. The finish is elegant and long with lovely toasted oak notes and dark chocolate. We are very proud of this Estate Cabernet Franc.

Winery direct price, $24. About $20/bottle from Joe Canal's!

We haven't yet tasted their entire lineup, but were first introduced to their wines at the end of last summer. We've already gotten quite a few requests for their Summer in a Bottle Rosé. Don't worry. It will be here soon.

Another Long Island winery worth mentioning for sure is Shinn Estate. This producer really cares about the environment, their carbon footprint, and are using biodynamic farming practices to ensure that their wines are made in a way that respects nature. We're totally cool with that!

Shinn Estate Vineyards 2014 Estate Merlot



Let me give you a heads up before you try this one. This is no California Merlot. The climate in Long Island is more similar to parts of Bordeaux than anyplace else. Trust me. That's a good thing.

Our Signature Merlot shows aromas of sweet spices, toasted herbs and minerals while expressing classic flavors of black cherry, chocolate, coffee and vanilla. We recommend drinking our Merlot upon release though it will age well and continue to evolve for 5-7 years.

Winery direct price, $26. About $16 from Joe Canal's!

Shinn Estate Vineyards Robert Schreiber Vineyard Riesling 2014



Look for more of a drier, more elegant style, than an overtly sweet Finger Lakes style. Fans of whites from Alsace, France are going to just love this one! Elegant, with plenty of ripe white peach and nectarine, with a lingering, almost tingly mineral finish. Recommend taking this one out to pair with something spicy. This wine will nail it!

This wine is already sold out at the winery. We have just over a case of this left. About $16 at Joe Canal's!

We also just tasted Shinn Estate's red blend. I thought it was terrific. Anyone interested, just say the word, and I'll have it on the shelf in no time.

If you enjoyed reading this, think about how much better it would have been if you were drinking any of these 4 great picks. I hope you'll stop in and check these out.

Cheers! -Bob

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wines of Elio Grasso, Monforte d’Alba, Italy

Bob Miller - Wine Director for Joe Canal's, and Winemaker, Gianluca Grasso (June, 2015)

There are a few winemakers that I would consider to be heavy hitters. Gianluca Grasso, and before him, his Father, Elio Grasso were pretty high up on that list. They make some of the finest single varietal wines in Piedmont, Italy, and I'm very proud to say that we've got at least some of them on the shelves here at Joe Canal's. The wines of Elio Grasso were some of the first wines in this style that I tried, and they made such an impression on me, that I'm not sure if I would feel entirely comfortable working at a store that didn't have at least a couple of their wines available. Lucky for me, I'm the guy that orders them, so no worries, other than there are times that they're simply not available. All great wines are made in finite quantities, and sometimes the wait for the next vintage can be a long one.

I had the privilege of meeting Gianluca on one of his visits to the states about 2 years ago, and for me, it was like meeting a rock star. There's nothing like tasting wines with the winemaker standing in front of you. I'm not really known for pulling any punches when critiquing wines, but I already loved these wines, so having him there to describe more in depth about each particular wine, each different vintage, to share his thoughts, was an absolute treat.

Let's talk about the wines, shall we?

Langhe Chardonnay Educato 2015

This new vintage just arrived at our Fire Road store this afternoon, and we weren't sure until just yesterday if it wouldn't be pushed back until next week, as it just landed in New York on Monday. I already have a few regular customers hooked on this one, and I ordered a few extra cases just to be sure we don't run out for a while.
The reason for the name "Educato" is that Chardonnay isn't originally indigenous to northern Italy, but they thought it would work very well in their terroir, and it turns out, they were absolutely right. This one is a winner!



Municipality of production: Monforte d’Alba
Grape: Chardonnay
First vintage: 1990
Number of bottles produced each year: 7,000
Vineyard area under vine: one hectare
Aspect and height above sea level: southeast-facing, 400-450 meters
Soil type: moderately loose-packed, slightly sandy, limestone-based
Vine training system and planting density: Modified Casarsa-trained at 4,500 vines per hectare
Average age of productive vines: 30 years
Harvest period and method: first 10 days of September, manual harvest

The vinification procedure for Langhe Chardonnay "Educato" involves alcoholic fermentation in french oak barriques. After completing malolactic fermentation, the Chardonnay "Educato", mature in barriques of french oak for 7 months. Bottling takes place in April-May.

Dolcetto d’Alba dei Grassi 2015

We just tasted the new vintage of this one a few weeks ago, and we're happy that it's back on the shelves at our Fire Road location.



Municipality of production: Monforte d’Alba
Grape: Dolcetto
First vintage: 1980
Number of bottles produced each year: 20,000
Vineyard area under vine: 3.2 hectares
Aspect and height above sea level: southeast-facing, 280 meters
Soil type: moderately loose-packed, clay and limestone-based
Vine training system and planting density: Guyot-trained at 4,500 vines per hectare
Average age of productive vines: 30 years
Harvest period and method: second and third 10 days of September, manual harvest

The vinification procedure for Dolcetto d'Alba dei Grassi involves alcoholic fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, with daily pumping over. After malolactic fermentation, the wine stays in stainless steel untill bottling in April-May

Barolo Gavarini Chiniera 2010

Don't be in a rush to drink this one. Although it's very approachable now, according to the winemaker, the 2010 vintage can handle laying down for a few more years. We actually sold out of the 2011 vintage a while ago, and that was the "drink it now" vintage, according to Gianluca Grasso.



Municipality of production: Monforte d’Alba
Grape: Nebbiolo
First vintage: 1978
Number of bottles produced each year: 14,000
Vineyard area under vine: 3 hectares
Aspect and height above sea level: south-facing, 350-400 meters
Soil type: moderately loose-packed, slightly sandy, limestone-based
Vine training system and planting density: Guyot-trained at 4,500 vines per hectare
Average age of productive vines: 30 years
Harvest period and method: second 10 days of October, manual harvest

The vinification procedure for Barolo Gavarini Chiniera involves alcoholic fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, with daily pumping over. After completing malolactic fermentation, the wine matures in 25-hectolitre barrels of Slavonian oak. Bottling normally takes place in August. The Barolo Gavarini Chiniera then stays in the binning cellar for 8-10 months before release.

Barolo Ginestra Casa Maté

Same deal as the Chiniera as far a how long you can hold onto it, but slightly different expression from the micro-climate in a different single vineyard. I still can't make up my mind which one is my favorite, but it's a great lesson in terroir drinking these side by side. Their old world, almost Burgundian approach is very evident in all of their wines.



Municipality of production: Monforte d’Alba
Grape: Nebbiolo
First vintage: 1978
Number of bottles produced each year: 14,000
Vineyard area under vine: 3 hectares
Aspect and height above sea level: south-facing, 300-350 meters
Soil type: moderately loose-packed, slightly clayey, limestone-based
Vine training system and planting density: Guyot-trained at 4,500 vines per hectare
Average age of productive vines: 40 years
Harvest period and method: second 10 days of October, manual harvest

The vinification procedure for Barolo Ginestra Casa Maté involves alcoholic fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, with daily pumping over. After completing malolactic fermentation, the wine matures in 25-hectolitre barrels of Slavonian oak. Bottling normally takes place in August. The Barolo Ginestra Casa Maté then stays in the binning cellar for 8-10 months before release.
As if these wines don't already make you feel good enough already, you'll feel better knowing that the Grasso estate adheres to very strict organic farming practices. Stop in to grab your bottles. These won't disappoint you one bit.

Cheers! -Bob

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fritz Hatton, proprietor of Arietta Wines


Adam Stromfeld - Owner of Joe Canal's and Fritz Hatton - Proprietor of Arietta Wines

One of the amazing perks of working for such a cool place, besides getting to try all kinds of new wines on pretty much a daily basis, is when we host a wine dinner. Last night, we welcomed Fritz Hatton, proprietor of Arietta Wines at Steve and Cookies By the Bay.

 

We've had plenty of great wine events there, and last night was no different. Cookie Till, and her amazing team put together quite a menu to pair with the wines. As usual, her food pairings are tailored to bring out the best qualities in the wines we're featuring, and always have just enough of an eclectic edge. Discussion around the table. There was much debate during the salad course last night, which comprised of mixed greens, roasted beets, paper thin slices of radish. It was elegant and delicious, and tied in perfectly with one of the whites we were having. The debate was over the face that the salad was made on top of fresh guacamole. It was surprisingly clever. At the last dinner we had, it was her tuna pizza hors d'oeuvres that knocked our socks off.



My favorite part of the evening would have to be the pre-gaming, when we all meet at the bar a little early before the dinner to have a drink, and really get a chance to get to know the evening's guest. Fritz was more than happy to share pictures of some of the wines he's been drinking lately. His wine lineup in the past week, makes all of the wines I've had lately seem like cheap jug wine by comparison.

 

Arietta Wines are made by winemaker, Andy Erickson who has worked for Harlan Estate, Staglin, as well as other wineries, and came on board with Arietta in 2005. His first project was making their first ever white wine called "On the White Keys", and is a Bordeaux inspired bland of Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Speaking of 2005, we still have just a few bottles of Arietta's 2005 H-Block Red Blend, if you should be so inclined. (I already nabbed my bottle!)

Arietta White Wine On The White Keys "George's Cuvée"



a white Bordeaux-inspired blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, is Arietta's first and only white wine. In 2005 Arietta's winemaker Andy Erickson sourced three outstanding blocks of hillside Sauvignon Blanc on Sonoma Mountain, and with the addition of two tiny blocks of old vine Semillon farmed by the highly respected Napa/Carneros grower Larry Hyde, fashioned a wine of remarkable complexity. The brilliance and pungent vibrancy of the Sauvignon Blanc has been preserved by fermentation of a substantial portion of the Sauvignon Blanc in stainless steel barrels. The balance of the Sauvignon Blanc, as well as the Semillon, was fermented in new Chateau oak barrels, an important factor in achieving length and ageability. The Sauvignon Blanc provides rich citric mouth watering acidity. The Semillon provides viscosity, lengthens and polishes the wine, and gives it a sheen of beeswax and floral scents. Arietta On The White Keys shares with the red wines Arietta's goals of quality, depth, vibrancy, and complexity, with much credit due to extreme care in vineyard selection and blending.

This particular wine is only available at Steve and Cookies, as it was a blend made specifically for them. We highly recommend stopping in and having a glass or 2 with a plate of fresh oysters. That seemed to do the trick rather nicely at the beginning of the dinner. Say hello to George for us!

Arietta White Wine On The White Keys, Artists' Reserve 2013



A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, Arietta’s reserve white wine benefits from an extra twelve months of aging in French oak barrels. It is aromatically flamboyant, offering notes of white flowers, key lime, gooseberry, and candied orange peel. The wine explodes on the palate, with delicious lemon flavors, peach, walnut oil, and thyme. The wood component is secondary, and very integrated, while secondary characters such as lemon grass, sage, and wood resin reside under the surface. This is an exceedingly hedonistic wine that will continue to gain in sophistication after two to four years in bottle.

Blend: 87% Sauvignon Blanc, 13% Semillon
Fruit Source: Hyde Vineyard, Farina Vineyard, Rancho Chimiles
Cooperage: Aged ten months in 45% new French oak, 37% neutral French oak, and 18% stainless steel barrels, followed by twelve months in 100% second use French oak barrels
Production: 260 cases

Arietta Red Wine Quartet 2013



Arietta’s Bordeaux-styled red wine “Quartet” is a cherubic offspring of the fabulous 2013 vintage in Napa. The 2013 vintage in Napa provided nearly perfect growing conditions, with a moderate spring, a long Indian summer, very little rain, and few heat spikes. Visually, the 2013 Arietta Quartet displays an intense garnet color, fading into soft plum terra cotta. The nose offers aromas of ripe strawberries and raspberries freshly picked in the heat of afternoon sun, with nuances of flint and cherry cola. On the palate, the Arietta Quartet suggests red plum, blackberry cordial, cocoa, black licorice, supported by persistent, silky tannins from the already well integrated French oak. The Cabernet Franc in the blend arrives at the finish to provide hints of Provencal herbs.

Blend: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petite Verdot
Fruit Sources: Coombsville, Carneros and Calistoga
Cooperage: Aged 22 months in French oak, 50% new
Production: 864 cases

Arietta Red Wine H Block Hudson Vineyards 2013



At almost 30 years in age, the Cabernet Franc vines in the H Block at Lee Hudson’s famed Napa Valley ranch excelled in the dry 2013 vintage, producing fruit with surprising balance, freshness, and aromatic expression. The stress level on the vines made for great concentration and a vibrant blue-purple hue in the wine. With all the concentration of flavor and aromatic intensity, the wine has an old-world demeanor, favoring grace and balance over power and heft. The structured finish is a sure indication that this latest incarnation of H Block will live for decades to come, continuously unfurling to reveal new aromas and sensations.

Blend: 54% Cabernet Franc, 46% Merlot
Fruit Source: 100% Hudson Vineyard, Carneros
Cooperage: Aged 21 months in French oak barrels. 78% new
Production: 370 cases

Arietta Red Wine Variation One 2013



A blend of 52% Syrah and 48% Merlot from Hudson Vineyards, the 2013 Variation One is a powerhouse. But for all its dark, brooding character and solid build, this wine is surprisingly bright and fresh on the palate, with flavors of red cherries, roasted meat, and orange liqueur and chocolate. It continues to open and reveal notes of campfire, baked fruits, and wet gravel. Tannins are dry and firm, helping to bolster the broad, expansive impression.

Blend: 52% Syrah, 48% Merlot
Fruit Source: 100% Hudson Vineyard, Carneros
Cooperage: Aged 21 months in French oak barrels, 50% new
Production: 86 cases

As we do at all of our wine dinners at Steve and Cookie's, we are proud to help raise money for Cookie's charity, A Work In Progress. Over $1500 was raised at this dinner, thanks to some of our generous vendors who were happy to make donations to be raffled off during the event.

As you can see by the amount noted in the production quantities of each wine, quantities are limited. Please stop in at our Fire Road location to inquire about any of them.

Bob Miller - Wine Director at Joe Canal's and Fritz Hatton

Cheers! -Bob

Monday, March 13, 2017

Amazing Value Wines from Languedoc-Roussillon


Happy Monday, Wine lovers!

Let me tell you what's so cool about this southern region of France. Languedoc-Roussillon hasn't always been at the forefront of making great wines. In the 1970's, the entire region got sort of a bad rap for overproduction. 60% or more of all of the wine that's exported from France comes from this region, and most of it is on the more mass produced side. The majority of wines from this region are specifically targeted for American markets. After more than their fair share of turmoil, which included demonstrations in support of wine making officials (some were actually violent), from wine making communities, things needed to change. Winemaking is indeed a passionate business. In the early 2000's, things finally began to settle down. Regions were re-classified, and great wines began to re-emerge.

The following wines are from 3 of my absolute favorite A.O.C. regions in Languedoc-Roussillon.

La Grange des Combes, Saint-Chinian-Roquebrun (2015)



This wine scored 91 Points from Wine Spectator, and was #57 on their Top 100 wines of 2016.

This is a more or less typical, but exemplary blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Distributor's notes: A deep, lustrous and inky colour, the wine has a nose of crushed red fruit, wild herbs and a hint of smoke. The palate is rich and ripe, with a supple tannic structure and multi-layered texture.
Less than $15/bottle, and a case discount is available. Highly recommended.

Terre de Loups, Mont des Albieres Cave de Berlou Saint Chinian Berlou (2013)



This selection brings on more bacon on the front end, as the blend is 60% Syrah, 30% Carignan, and 10% Grenache. This one has been in my regular rotation since tasting it on a trip to N.Y.C. last fall. I seem to remember it being mention that this particular producer does everything Bio-Dynamic, but I can neither confirm or deny this at the moment. So many producers that practice organic, sustainable, or bio-dynamic, sometimes don't even mention it. In any case, it's absolutely delicious, and pairs extremely well with any type of red meat dishes, lamb, or hard cheeses.

Distributor's notes: This wine has a bright color dress and reveals aromatic notes of fresh red fruit, with good power, finesse and elegance highlighted by a mouth with rounded tannins.

Less than $15/bottle, and a case discount is available. Highly recommended. Wait. Scratch that. You need this!

Last but not least...

Domaine Cazes, Castell d'Agly Maury Sec (2014)



80% Grenache, and 20% Carignan, from what is probably the best place on Earth to grow these 2 particular varietals. Underneath the soil is mostly quartz, which gives wines from this region, a very lively mineral finish. Along with the warmer climate, which leads to earlier ripening fruit, this wine has a rich, meaty mouthfeel, but is very supple on the finish. Although it doesn't feel like it, this wine is a beast, clocking in at 15% ABV. Robert Parker gave it 92 points, BTW.
Less than $18/bottle, and yes, case discount is available. Recommendation? Let me put it to you this way. I had customers yelling me the first time I ran out of this one. I won't ruin the surprise. This wine has earned a permanent parking space in my wine rack at home.

Stop in at our Fire Road location to check these out.

Cheers! -Bob

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tenuta Rapitalà, a French-Sicilian Love Story



As the resident Francophile at Joe Canal's, I never thought I'd see the day that I'd be totally bragging about our great Sicilian wines. Today's the day. For quite some time, this particular region in Italy was sadly neglected in aisle 1 (French and Italian wines), but sometimes all it takes is for one of our salesmen to show up for an appointment with the right wines at the right price for magic to happen. The planets must be in alignment, because our Sicilian wine lineup is looking pretty spiffy at the moment.

The pictures you see at the beginning of this post are just the reds. Don't worry. We'll get to the whites in another post.

Let's start off by talking about the most recent arrivals from Tenuta Rapitalà. Part of what got me interested in wine to begin with was when I realized that every great wine has a story, and these wines are no different. This is indeed a love story.

In the late 1960's, French Count, Hughes Bernard de la Gatinais married Gigi Guarrasi, from Palermo. Shortly after the honeymoon, they embarked on a mission to restore her family's vineyards and wine cellars after they had been destroyed in the Belice Valley Earthquake in 1968. Their work is now carried out, very passionately by their son, Laurent. The cellar at Tenuta Rapitalà has been recently renovated to house some of the most modern winemaking equipment. This high-tech approach allows them to have a much larger window when it comes to harvesting their grapes, and ensures that they are at optimum ripeness. Bottom line is that these wines are truly special, and we just had to have them.

CAMPO REALE SICILIA D.O.C. 2015

 

Nero d’Avola vinified on its own gives this wine an exciting red color, an aroma of ripe fruit and a typical, deep, balanced flavor. Campo Reale, named after a town close to the estate, comes from vineyards at the heart of the Tenuta Rapitalà, grown on gentle hills at 1,300 feet above sea level which, because of their history, terrain and climate, creates a Nero d’Avola with a particular elegance, rare among others of this type.

Deep ruby color with floral and cherry aromas. A firm and powerful structure, a distinct but not intrusive amount of tannin and a delicate acidity.


NADIR SYRAH SICILIA D.O.C. 2014



On Rapitala’s vineyard slope, at 1,000-1,300 feet of elevation, dark clay soils alternate with tufaceous sand. This is the source for the Syrah destined for Nadir, which refers to a location opposite of the Zenith, and therefore the earth.

Intense ruby-red color with damask-violet tints. Generous bouquet with touches of ripe fruit and the typical spices of this grape variety, with attractive hints of vanilla. The flavor is full and delicate, with soft and elegant tannins. A balanced marriage between the depth of this product and the uniqueness of this exceptional terroir. Pairs well with red meats, games and roasts.


NUHAR NERO D’AVOLA/PINOT NERO SICILIA D.O.C. 2013



Nuhar, meaning flower, is sourced from parcels located in the heart of the vineyard. Here, vines grow on clay soils, sheltered from the wine, and in full sunlight. Two great varieties are planted: Nero d’Avola, which develops rich tannins and body in these conditions, and Pinot Noir, King of Burgundy, which responds well to the heat of Sicily with color, softness and depth unlike anywhere else.

Bright, ruby-red color and a bouquet with strong aromas of dried fruits. The palate is warm and full with a balanced acidity and elegant tannins. The finish is long and lingering and at this point, we discover again the classic aromas of a Pinot Noir ripened by the hot, Sicilian sun. Pairs well with roasted meats, game and truffle dishes.


HUGONIS CABERNET SAUVIGNON/NERO D’AVOLA SICILIA I.G.T. 2013



Hugonis with its powerful and austere style is the most prized product of Tenuta Rapitalà, the legacy wine. The seal of Hugonis Bernardi – a knight in armor with two leopards – which appears on the label, is the coat-of-arms of the family of Hugues Bernard de la Gatinais and his son, Laurent.

With an attractive red ruby color with medium-high intensity, in the nose it surprises for a powerful fruit remarkably blended with traces from its noble ageing: coconut and toffee, evolving into seductive nuances of spices and Mediterranean bush. The attack is truly powerful and develops in the mouth a pleasant sensation of volume and unctuosity with drives us to a long finish, nervous and fresh due to its optimum acidity, and bringing back an aftertaste with red fruits and again Mediterranean bushes.


All of these wines are made using sustainable farming practices, which makes us even happier. All 4 of them, plus several of their white wines (Don't worry. We'll get to those.) just landed yesterday, and are now on the shelves at our Fire Road location. Nadir Syrah, and their Grillo will be available at our Black Horse Pike location shortly. Stop in an speak with any of our wine staff to check them out. Quantities are limited, and very highly recommended.

Cheers! -Bob

Thursday, March 9, 2017

New wine arrivals from Bacchus, California

Greetings, fellow wine lovers! Welcome to JoeCanalsWineEHTNJ!

This time of year is pretty exciting. The holidays are over. We just wrapped up inventory in both of our locations. Spring is just around the corner, and we have a few shelf spots to fill in the wine department. We've been busy tasting new wines to see which ones get to go on the shelves. We're lucky. We get to be choosy, and many of the distributors/importers we work with have been bringing their A game for sure this season. Let's take a look at a few of the new wines that have just landed.

Bacchus, California, United States

David Gordon has been the wine director at Tribeca Grill, the famed New York City restaurant since 1990. Owned by restaurateur Drew Nieporent and actor Robert DeNiro, Tribeca Grill features a dynamic wine program with a list of over 1800 selections and is a Grand Award winner from the Wine Spectator-one of only 6 in New York City.

David created the Bacchus label to offer great value California wine by utilizing the many contacts he has in Napa and Sonoma to source the finest grapes available. Producers such as Caymus, Lewis Cellars and Miner Family provided grapes and helped with the winemaking for earlier cuvees. The wineries that are currently used wish to remain anonymous, but the quality has remained very high.


We are very happy to have brought in 3 terrific wines from this particular winemaking effort. Some of you may already be familiar with them from being on the wine list at Steve and Cookies Restaurant and Oyster Bar. We've had numerous customer requests for these, so it just made sense to bring them in.

Bacchus Cabernet Sauvignon 2014



Source: 75% Paso Robles, 15% Central Coast, 10% Sonoma
Blend: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot
Winemaking: 50% stainless steel, 50% neutral oak barrels
Aging: 10 months in neutral oak barrels
Alcohol: 13%
Tasting Note: Medium bodied with ripe plum, black currant, and blackberry flavors with a touch of mint. Cedar and dusty earth emerge on the long, layered finish.

Bacchus Chardonnay 2015



Source: 90% Central Coast, 10% Sonoma
Winemaking: 90% fermented in stainless steel tank, 10% barrel fermented
Aging: 6 months in neutral oak and stainless steel
Alcohol: 13%
Tasting Note: Medium-bodied and crisp, with subtle apple, pear and citrus notes. A mineral component comes through in the lively, balanced and long finish.

Bacchus Pinot Noir 2015



Source: Monterey
Winemaking: 50% fermented in tank, 50% fermented in neutral oak
Aging: 8 months in large neutral oak
Alcohol: 13.8%
Tasting Note: Dark ruby color. Light to medium bodied with aromas and flavors of raspberry, tart cherry, spice with a touch of earth. Supple and balanced with a smooth finish.

All 3 of these are priced less than $14, and are simply terrific picks for what we like to refer to as "weekday" wines. These just landed at our Fire Road location, and are waiting for you to take them home. Fans of other wines from these parts of California are going to be very pleasantly surprised by this lineup. FYI, our case discount applies to all 3 of these, so be sure to stock up!

Cheers! -Bob