As I’m sure many of you wonderful readers out there already know, we here at Exit 9 Wine and Liquor Warehouse are celebrating our 10 year anniversary this month. While it is very easy for us to say that we have everything figured out and changes are unnecessary, we realize that change is what got us to the point that we are at as a business.
Back in 2001 we opened up in our first location, of about 10K sq ft. Things went well. So well, in fact, that in 2005 we relocated to an even bigger location of about 30K sq ft. (That’s when I came on board. Mark O’Callaghan gave me a chance to come in and find my own place. I’m very happy to say that I worked my way into being the Spirit Manager of Exit 9.) And then in January of 2010 we moved yet again to our beautiful new home (My apologies for the boring history lesson, I promise you it gets better from here!).
So as we were approaching our 10 year anniversary we took a good look at where we were at as a store, trying to identify what and where we can improve. I’m sure there are many areas where we can improve and I promise you we will keep working hard to do so. The one area of our spirit side that I felt could use a solid make over was our single malt scotch whisky selection. At the time we carried a modest selection of 47 different single malts, ranging from the everyday brands such as Glenlivet, Gleffiddich and Macallan to the more obscure ones like Ardbeg Vigeidail, Laphroaig ¼ Cask and Glenmoragie nectar d’or. My goal was to reach over 100 single malts on an everyday basis, which I am very proud to say that currently we carry 110 single malt whiskies. Not only did we increase the number of single malts that we carry from the 4 major regions (highland, lowland, speyside and islay) we also broadened our horizons to other areas such as campbeltown, the isle of mull, wales and even one from Japan amongst others.
Unfortunately I do not have the time or space to go into great detail about all the new single malts that we now have, but I can touch on a few:
Auchentoshan three wood is a triple distilled single malt from the lowland region. These whiskies tend to be lighter and a bit more gentle than other malts from Scotland. However the fact that this particular whisky is aged in three different casks gives it a more full bodied, fruitier and a tad sweeter flavor than most from the lowlands.
Suntory Yamazaki 12 year old is the one single malt that we carry from Japan. The Suntory distillery is located just outside of Kyoto, Japan, which many people believe has the cleanest and most pure natural water source in the world. The Yamazaki 12 year old is very similar to a speyside malt in which it has a nice sweetness with hints of honey and nuts. It is a super clean and refreshing addition to our selection.
Kilkerran is one of the 3 malts that we now carry from a small whisky producing area of Scotland called Campbeltown. This particular bottle is jam packed with flavor, but it’s the finish that sets it apart. It reminds me of a nice Islay Malt with the heavy peat and smoke but finishes much more gentle and not quite as dry.
Glenfarclas 17 year is a great single malt from the highland region. Hints of honey really shines through on the nose and then when you taste it, the wonderful spice and tobacco flavors really come alive and hang on for a nice long finish. Overall one of the best single malt whiskies on our shelves.
Unfortunately that about does it for my time today but next time you are here I would love to fill you in on many of our other new additions. Honestly, I could go on and on about this, but unfortunately my space is limited. If you have any comments or questions about single malts or whisky in general, feel free to come in and discuss with me any time.
I love the road Exit 9 is taking with the expansion of our single malt whiskies and I’m hoping you’ll travel down that road with us.
So let me start off by saying, I love fall. Taking the family to the orchards, apple picking, cider donuts, hay rides and capping off the day with some fresh apple cider mixed with my good friend Sailor Jerry Rum. Warm or cold you can’t go wrong.
Another great thing about fall is being able to sit outside around a nice warm fire. The feeling of the fire on your face, the cool air at your back, hearing the crackle of the fire, can only be enhanced by a nice glass of Eagle Rare Bourbon in your hand. The vanilla, caramel and oaky notes are a great way to warm yourself up from the inside out.
If bourbon is not your thing, you should try the locally distilled Cornelius Applejack. It is a lighter, sweeter liqueur that has a perfect blend of apple flavor and oak aging.
However, by far, the best thing about fall is FOOTBALL. There is nothing better than kicking back and relaxing after a long hard week of work, and watching my NY JETS work their way to another playoff run. If you are as big a Jets fan as I am, which is tough to be, then you definitely have to pick up a bottle of Jets Uncorked, the official wine of the NY Jets. Hopefully they will be able to make it just a little bit further this year.
Enjoy the fall while you can, unfortunately we all know what comes next…
-Mike, Liquor Manager, Exit 9 Wine and Liquor Warehouse
Since coming here from California and after a few stints in other states, I realized that every state in the nation produces wine, even Hawaii and Alaska. But what I didn’t realize was that besides California, which produces 90 % of the countries wines, is that New York is the # 3 state for volume of wine produced.(California and Washington are ranked in the lead, with Oregon at # 4). In my travels and in living in a few different states, I didn’t come across a lot of New York wines which I thought was interesting since New York State has 280 wineries producing 180 million bottles and over $1 billion in sales.
My favorite thing about living in wine country out west was that I was able to drive to all of the different wine growing regions in California and discover what made each area unique and what different grapes they used. So now being a transplant I can start all over and discover new wine regions right under my nose. New York State has four grape growing regions and wine producing regions to explore:
One of the most important things that I learned about New York Wines is that the state itself is on the same latitude as Germany which is known for making outstanding Rieslings. This noble grape and a few other whites such as Seyval, Cayuga, Traminette, and Diamond, make for intriguing cool weather grape flavors that are lighter, lower in alcohol, have fresh acidity and beautiful fresh fruit flavors of apples, peaches and crisp citrus which are all well suited to not overpower your favorite dishes.
The next time you come and visit Exit 9 Wine and Liquor Warehouse, be sure to leave plenty of time to peruse our huge selection of New York State wines. Uncork New York Indeed!!!
Dr. Frank Dry Riesling 2010 ($14.67)
This historic winery consistently makes outstanding wines in the cool climate of the Finger Lakes Region of New York. This wine has elegant floral aromas and mineral infused finish that makes this wine versatile with food.
Brotherhood Riesling 2010 ($9.45)
Brotherhood is the oldest continuous running winery in the United States and is located nearby our store in the Hudson Valley region of New York State. This off –dry Riesling starts with aromas of citrus and peach notes. Crisp mango and fruit flavors hit you right away with a hint of floral in the background. This wine still somehow finishes with a clean bright finish that invites you back for another sip.
Hermann J. Wiemer Semi- Dry Riesling 2008 ($14.39)
This wine also hails from the Finger Lakes region of New York and shows the classic Riesling flavors that you would find in some of its German counterparts. This wine has an extremely fragrant nose of tropical fruits and citrus. This wine is full to medium bodied with some sweet fruit flavors of apricot and apples that come through before this wine finishes with some minerality and a clean finish. Good stuff.
Goose Watch Diamond 2009 ($8.29)
This grape has been grown for over a century in New York and is one of the original grapes planted in this area. This wine is made in a semi-sweet style that displays fresh fruit flavors on the nose which carries into the finish. This grape is unique to me because the fruit has a just picked flavor which is not typical of a lot of wines. (Interesting note: this winery is accessible by boat on Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes Region).
This process starts by placing the grapes carefully in vats, as not to crush them, and then putting down a layer of carbon dioxide which prevents oxygen so the yeast cannot start up. The intact grape then starts fermenting within the grape. The interesting thing here is that unique chemical reactions take place (such as the grape producing ethanol) which do not take place in other methods. This leads to producing a unique style of wine!
This process (along with a few other steps) produces wines with lower alcohol, body and acids as well as creating unique flavors and aromas. Because of this process I believe the wine is one those few reds that can take a slight chill which brings out the fresh fruit flavors in this lighter styled red. Try pairing this wine with lighter style summer dishes and picnic foods.
The wines listed below are made in the Semi Carbonic Maceration method. For the full effect of this vinification wait till Thanksgiving and try a Beaujolais Nouveau.
Aromas of raspberries, cherry pie and hint of bubble gum. Sweet fresh fruit flavors of strawberry, red currants and some tropical notes in the back ground. This wine finishes with a nice vibrancy and long finish for this price range.
This wine is fresh and vibrant with raspberry and black cherry flavors that have those classic candied flavors that hint at tropical fruits. I gave this wine a slight chill which gave the red fruit flavors an extra pop.
All right, last time I gave some suggestions of my favorite Chardonnays for summer that we carry at Exit 9, but it’s time to step out of our comfort zone and try some other whites that have been neglected or forgotten. This move out of our so called “comfort zone” (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc drinkers take notice) can prove to be beneficial since these wines can cost much less than popular varieties and are able to take your taste buds in another direction. A wine that is emerging from Argentina that fits this bill is the Torrontes grape that makes a wonderfully light and crisp summer sipper. The Torrontes grape pairs well with a summer fair with its trade mark floral notes, crisp finish, and honeydew melon flavors. I listed two other under the radar grape varieties that hail from France that I believe get neglected: the Muscadet and the Chenin Blanc. These grapes deliver exceptional quality and are at a great price point without the popular name.
Light crisp and clean with that trade mark floral note that makes this wine intriguing. At this price it’s your go to summer wine for those large summer gatherings!
Alamos Torrontes captures all of the explosive aromatic character of this Argentine grape, with lively notes of citrus and peach fruit interwoven with delicate layers of jasmine blossom and fresh herbs. The wine is light and fresh on the palate with excellent balance and finishing with bright, crisp acidity.
This wine comes from the western part of Loire Valley and is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. Muscadet wines have been described as the perfect oyster wines because of their minerality and brininess that enhance the oyster but any seafood dish you cook up this summer will do.
Floral notes orange peel, and minerals on the nose .On the palate vibrant citrus and floral flavors that hover just above the zesty minerals which add a tangy lift to this serious summer white that I keep reaching for!
This wine comes from the Loire Valley that produces almost exclusively Chenin blanc. This value driven Chenin blanc displays a nose of honeysuckle and apricots. On the palate it shows off sweet fruits of nectarines and pineapple which are balanced by the zingy acidity and minerals that make this tremendously refreshing wine perfect for summer.
Cabernet may be known as the King of Grapes, but Chardonnay is the Queen. While neither are the most planted grape, this term holds true to Chardonnay drinkers who are looking for wines that offer complexity and personality for every type of wine drinker.
Chardonnay has had its ups and downs and stylistic changes throughout the years but has remained strong because of the grape’s ability to adapt to a variety of climates and also its high production yield around the world. Take a look; you’ll see that almost every section here at Exit 9 Wine and Liquor Warehouse has a splattering of Chardonnays. (You’ll also notice how when the weather heats up, the shelves get pummeled. People love this stuff!)
This grape always seems to amaze and baffle me while letting me down from time to time. Every time I open a bottle, no matter what region it is from, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get. While this might seem fun, it can be difficult for customers who are looking for a particular style.
The Chardonnay styles range from the steely minerality, such as Burgundy (try a Chablis to understand its chalky minerality) to the buttery rich Chardonnays that ooze the full bodied pear and apple flavors (try California). Chardonnay can also produce well made inexpensive jug/box wines that seem to deliver more punch than the other varieties.
The Chardonnay pendulum has swung a bit back from the over extracted flabby over-oaked Chardonnays of yester year. Do you remember how back in the mid 90’s there was a backlash against Chardonnay that resulted in ABC parties (anything but Chardonnay)? They say that this backlash started from those New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that used steel tank fermentation which produce the clean crisper styles that have become so popular these days. You can see that the Chardonnay producers seem to have taken a lesson from them and retreated to a more balanced style.
Whatever your preference, there is a style of Chardonnay somewhere that will fit the bill. Listed below are some varying styles of Chardonnay from different areas; however most are from different regions of California because of the fantastic growing season of 2009.
I really liked this wine with its apple, pear and nectarine flavors. This full bodied richly textured Chardonnay finishes with a touch of almond and peach pit that linger nicely on the finish. This is what you should expect from a Napa Chardonnay!
The wine maker’s notes say it all: “No chips, no sawdust, no planks!”
This wine is true to its words. The pure Chardonnay flavors come streaming through this Mendocino county wine. I like the clean crisp apple flavors that finish with pineapple and citrus notes.
The nose is of candied peaches and pineapple. This wine is what I describe as candied flavors; notes of butterscotch and poached pear are well represented here. The wine also has some vanilla and citrus notes that fit in well with this medium to full bodied wine. This wine may lack finesse but makes up with its strong and persistent flavors. A real crowd pleaser!
A classic version of Chardonnay from the region of France called Pouilly-Fuisse (Burgundy). This wine has great acidity, minerality and apple flavors characteristic of this region. This wine is medium bodied with great lemony characteristics that make this wine complex and inviting. Good stuff.
What separates this wine from a great Burgundy is its Italian flair that shows in some of the great Italian whites. The Chardonnays from Italy seem to me to have that beautiful honeyed flavor and smoke that seem to hover over the typical flavors of apple and pear. This Italian beauty also has an incredible finish that goes on and on.
This wine and other gems can be found in our cellar!
Another great Chardonnay from the 2009 vintage. This wine shows great balance between the lush buttery oak flavors and the crisp apple pear. This is a “must try”, especially at this price!
Medium bodied with a bright core of apples and zesty citrus and pineapple flavors keep this Chardonnay lively. People who like sleek racy style with the oak in the background will love this wine.
With Pinot Noirs still having strong interest, here are two Pinot Noir’s that are priced approximately the same, but come from different regions that express different styles.
I was so impressed with Hob Nob’s last vintage that I figured I’d give the new vintage a try. This is a French wine with an American approved label (a silly name with the grape variety on it) What a novel idea! They can do this because they label the bottle “Vin de Pays”. Vin de Pay is a French term meaning "country wine”, and unlike many other regions in France, wines from Vin de Pays can label the wine by its grape variety. Other French regions have strict rules on labeling (ex. Bordeaux and Burgundy) and growing practices. This is a great idea since this is what usually confuses buyers.
I found Hob Nob to be smooth with mild tannins. What surprised me was the soft fruit finish which seemed more Californian then typical less-expensive French Pinot Noir’s. You can never be sure on if and how much Syrah they spike Pinot Noir with these days but I think it helps here, giving this wine a rounder less acidic edge which can hinder these Pinot Noirs from France.
Bottom Line? I liked it and the soft, round rich flavors surprised me. It was very smooth and quite different than other, less expensive French Pinot Noir’s that I’ve sampled throughout the years. The problem with Pinot Noir’s at this price point is that it fails to deliver true varietal character. This wine was fun and easy to drink but lacked any real reference to Pinot Noir, but I found that I still enjoyed it, especially at this price!
Here’s another great valued Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. I believe this might actually be the least expensive Oregon Pinot Noir that comes to memory. If you have never done this, take out a map and see how Oregon is on the same latitude as Burgundy, France. Both make great Pinot Noirs. No coincidence here! Yes, sure there are other factors at play such as soil, winemaker, etc… which are just as important but the French have been growing grapes since the second century AD. That’s a long time, so I think there on to something!
What I liked about this wine is that at this price it still delivers varietal correctness (which I feel Oregon Pinot’s tend to do) and is not trying to push the limits on ripeness, which actually can detract from the delicateness of the Pinot Noir grape. What strikes you first about this Pinot Noir is that it is much lighter in color then you typically see. The wine has an elegant feel of bright red fruits with a touch of earthiness that comes together for a harmonious finish. Great value here folks!
Despite winter’s never ending grip, I decided to take out the old barbeque from the basement and see if I can speed up the arrival of spring!
Before I get into the wine pairing part, here are a few things to keep in mind before you go barbequing for the first time this year.
There are no real rules when it comes to pairing wines with barbecued foods. Barbecue wines should be inexpensive, rich and fruity, largely un-oaked, and have loads of red and black fruit to hold up to those spicy barbeque sauces or dry rubs. I grabbed a 2009 Paringa Shiraz and paired it with my dry rubbed ribs and few cheese burgers that I will have tomorrow for lunch as a reminder that spring is near. Despite my difficulties with breaking out the barbeque, the evening ended well as my family agreed that my efforts were extraordinary. (Probably due to their last barbeque being in October.)
Paringa Shiraz 2009 $9.87
Deep red in color verging on black. Notes of sweet plums and blackberries on the nose complimented by an aroma of chocolate and roasted coffee bean. The palate displays a broad array of flavor, intense dark berry fruits read more...with a suggestion of pepper. This fruit forward wine is balanced by soft acidity and a hint of mocha with velvety tannins adding complexity to the long finish.
When most people think of Portuguese wines, they think of Port or the light easy drinking Vinho Verde or the throw back WWII wines like Mateus and Lancers. Recently we have brought in some new low priced wines from Portugal that I think will surprise a few customers who aren’t afraid of drinking non-traditional grapes. I believe that the Portuguese wines would have caught on sooner but these guys hung on to their old-world roots and never developed that new-world style as well as using more familiar grapes such as Cabernet and chardonnay, but with prices like these you don’t have to feel like you’re taking a chance! Dive in!!!
Come in and grab one or all three of these outstanding valued wines now and discover Portugal.