WITWIB? Balzac, Me & Montepulciano: A Brief Encounter

  Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog. WITWIB?

Balzac, Me & Montepulciano – ‘The Tuscan Wines of Montepulciano Come to Seattle’

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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It was a brief encounter. Flirtations always are. Mind you, it wasn’t cheating. Burgundy has my heart. But a bit of every wine region I visit touches my soul, including Tuscany. So when Balzac Communications proferred an invite for binNotes to Taste the Tuscan Wines of Montepulciano at the ultra-lux Hotel Ballard Rooftop Olympic Pavilion recently, a little voice inside me said “Assolutamente!”  Something about Italians and their passione gets me ever time.

Many things about Montepulciano that afternoon reminded binNotes of Burgundy. Some did not.


When it comes to wine making, Tuscany likes to complicate things – just like Burgundy!  Case in point:  Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is NOT the same as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, made from the Montepulciano grape in central eastern Italy’s Abruzzo region.

No. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a wine made from at least 70% sangiovese clone prugnolo gentile (literally translated meaning ‘little prune’) with local Tuscan varietals such as canaiolo, malvasia and trebbiano rounding out the balance.

Like Burgundy’s pinot noir, sangiovese is a finicky, clone-prone diva of the vineyard. It can ripen unevenly, depending upon sun and rain variations. Wine growers and wine makers of both varietals must possess an inordinate level of patience, understanding and devotion.

Both wine regions share a penchants for limestone ridges and abundant meso-climates, though Montepulciano’s may rise a bit higher under somewhat sunnier skies.


Like Burgundy, Montepulciano enjoys rarified social status.

Burgundy boasts royal rootstock, including the Dukes of Burgundy and  Hospices de Beaune, location of the world’s most famous annual wine auction.

Montepulciano, meaning ‘mountain of politics,‘ bedazzled popes, poets and patriarchs for centuries, earning the sobriquet  “The Pearl of the 16th Century.” Today, Montepulciano serves as a Tuscan cultural, agricultural and tourist touchstone.


The wines of Burgundy and Montepulciano share patrician wine rankings as well.

Like Burgundy’s esteemed Premier and Grand Crus, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) notates wines of exceptional quality. Awarded this status in 1980, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG must age wines at least two years, three years for riservas.

Many wine aficionados complain that Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG suffers from excessive hype – delivering tired, thin, astringent wine resembling a jet-lagged supermodel with acid-reflux, rather than a voluptuous opera star. However, a quick binNotes’ lip-smack of an offered Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG revealed wine with a deep garnet robe, red fruit and dark cherry notes, balanced tannins, and lingering finish.

As with Burgundy, not everyone can afford rock-star status wines. While Burgundy offers regional and village-level wines for real people with real lives, Montepulciano offers these alternatives:

Rosso di Montepulciano DOC

Rosso di Montepulciano DOC ( Denominazione di Origine Controllataresemble Burgundy’s regional and village level wines - younger, softer, and typically from younger vines, with shorter aging requirements.

Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC

Vin Santo, meaning ‘holy wine,’ traditionally appeared at Mass and celebrations. Today, Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC  enjoys a secular place at the table, typically with dessert or postprandial.

Note: Some wine professionals argue that Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC deserves the same DOCG status as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. What do you think? Leave your comments below.


binNotes left ‘The Tuscan Wines of Montepulciano’ blushing, but still devoted to Burgundy. Bourgogne toujours…ma avremo sempre Montepulciano! Ciao et santé!

For more on Montepulciano, check out this cool Rick Steves video:

Video: Courtesy http://www.ricksteves.com

Thank you:

Balzac Communications and Marketing

The Hotel Ballard


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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. All still photos courtesy the author.

Terroirist Tuesday

 Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday.

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday binNotes is out of pocket this week.

Enjoy binNotes Guest Post: The Good Life France: Burgundy – France’s Most Seductive Wine Region

Don’t Miss out! Underground Cellars: Sonoma Winecation #Giveaway


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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. All images ©2014 Courtesy the author.

Published: The Good Life France – Burgundy Wine Region

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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It’s Official!

 My featured guest blog on Burgundy’s Wine Region is now published in The Good Life France.

Read it here.



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Janine Marsh – The Good Life France

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Terroirist Tuesday: Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne 2014

 Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday.Today’s Topic:  Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne 2014

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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binNotes recently braved the omni-present Seattle rain to bask in the warm glow of  BIVB’s Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne Trade Tasting at UrbanFeast | The Foundry.

I had to blink. Twice. At the event entrance stood none other than ‘Le Renard de Bourgogne,’ Jean-Pierre Renard, legendary BIVB instructor par excellence of the French Wine Society 2013 Bourgogne Master Level Immersion Program. The man forgets more about Burgundy by breakfast than most people hope to know about the region in a lifetime. Shock and introductions aside,  I quickly asked Jean-Pierre for a quick synopsis of the way to maneuver through the event.

His recommendation: complete a nearby series of four tastings at each of four tables, culminating in a blind tasting of four wines, one from each table.  Jean-Pierre also mentioned something about filling out a blind tasting ballot form at the end for a chance to win a prize…but I was too busy enjoying the exceptional Regional, Village, Premier and Grand Crus tastings to take note, or notes. Oh, well. Bon chance to the winner.

An old axiom about Burgundy’s wines goes: It’s all about the terroir. And the producer.  Beyond the blind tasting beamed the bright lights of the trade tasting tables. Here, twenty-five Burgundy producers poured their best 2011 and 2012 vintages, each designed to showcase the ‘terroirs’ and ‘signatures’ of Burgundy. Some other vintages gamboled among the newer ones. Interestingly, most of the wine makers with whom I spoke espouse organic farming, and others investing in upgrades to biodynamic farming.

In binNotes’ opinion, three (3) producers surpassed the others at this event with their panache, passion and precision. These three included:

I. Bertrand Ody of M. Joseph Burrier | Château de Beauregard

Wines tasted:

1. Mâcon-Fuissé, 2012 – J. Burrier (Regional wine. 80% stainless/20% oak.)

2. Saint-Véran, En Faux, 2011, Château de Beauregard (80% stainless/20% oak.)

3. Pouilly-Fuissé, 2012, Château de Beauregard

4. Pouilly-Fuissé, Vers Cras, 2010, Château de Beauregard (11 mos. oak/30 new.)

5. Pouilly-Fuissé, Vignes Blanches, 2009, Château de Beauregard (11 mos. oak/30 new.)

6. Pouilly-Fuissé, Grand Beauregard, 2008, Château de Beauregard

Impressions: These wines pour fresh, clean, pristine. A discreet but discernible difference between the oaked Ch. de Beauregard and the 80% stainless regional and village wines. I found the oak protocols impart varying hints of almond to the wine. NOTE: The owner produces 20,000 cs/yr. and sells 50% of his wines to restaurants in France.)

II. Mdm. Anne Parent of Domaine Parent.

Wines Tasted:

1. Corton Grand Cru, 2011. Delicate. Parcel is midslope limestone.

2. Monthélie, 2011 –  Herbacious.

3. Pommard 1er Cru, Les Poutures, 2011. Mdm. Parent calls this ‘The Skater.’ Lively.

4. Pommard 1er Cru, Les Chaponnières, 2011. Red clay, spice, 75 yr. old vines. A wine of power and intensity.

5. Pommard 1er Cru, Les Epenots, 2011. Up for Grand Cru status. Considered one of Pommard’s two greatest 1er Crus (The other: Les Rugiens, also up for Grand Cru status.)

6. Ladoix 1er Cru, La Corvée, 2011.  The soils here transition from Côte de Nuits to Côte de Beaune.

BONUS: Pommard 1er Cru, Les Epenots, 2002, Magnum. Those infamous Pommard  tannins let loose a bit.

Impressions: Don’t mess with Madame Anne Parent, or her wines.  Unflinching. Uncompromising. A force of nature. (NOTE: See video below for more on Mdm. Anne Parent and her influential role in Pommard’s bid for Grand Cru status.)

III. Romain Taupenot of Domaine Taupenot-Merme.

Wine tasted:

1. Gevrey-Chambertin, 2011. Napoleon’s favorite wine for a reason.

2. Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Bel Air, 2011. Great 1er cru real estate in the higher slopes above Clos de Bèze.

3. Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru, 2011. Considered one of two top 1er Crus in Nuits-Saint-Georges (the other is Les Vaucrains.)

4. Corton Rognet Grand Cru, 2011. On the Aloxe-Corton side of Ladoix.

5. Mazoyeres-Chambertin Grand Cru, 2011. Often labeled as Charmes-Chambertin; some say possesses less finesse than Charmes-Chambertin. I found no such issues with this wine.

BONUS: Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, 1998. (Served on 1st Class United Emirate.) A wine worthy of its designation. Charming.

Impressions: Discretion, elegance, finesse. Pale robe, delicate aromas, silky tannins, lingering finish. Again, indicative of how the wine and wine maker mirror one another’s temperament.

Event complete, I felt like Cinderella at the end of the ball, except my coach was a SmartCar, not a pumpkin. And instead of a glass slipper, I had only a wine glass to recall the magic of Burgundy.


The  formidable Mdm. Anne Parent expounds upon Pommard’s Grand Cru efforts:

Video: Courtesy http://www.bergmans-bourgogne.com

 Parlez-vous français? Écouter ici pour Jean-Pierre Renard, virtuose dégustateur and ‘Le papa de ProDégustation®:



Bertrand Ody, Maison Joseph Burrier | Chateau de Beauregard

Mdm. Anne Parent, Domaine Parent

Romain Taupenot, Domaine Taupenot-Merme

Le Renard de Bourgogne


NOTE:  For those of you trying to access binNotes guest blog for The Good Life France  -  it goes live tomorrow –  I’ll post the link as soon as it’s up!

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. All images ©2014 Courtesy the author.

WITWIB? #BourgogneWA !

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog. WITWIB?

The Bourgogne Wine Tour – Seattle

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Today binNotes tastes through twenty five of Burgundy’s most prestigious producers in town for the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB)  Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne  trade tasting …will keep you posted on the details next Terroirist Tuesday.



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Burgundy: France’s Most Seductive Wine Region

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog. Today’s Terroirist Tuesday: binNotes’ Guest Blog for The Good Life France  later this week.

Burgundy: France’s Most Seductive Wine Region

by L.M. Archer, FWS.

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Burgundy seduces, intoxicating first-timers and return visitors alike with its charm – and wines.

Easily accessible by train or car, Burgundy lies south of Paris approximately 190 miles. Comprised of three departments, five subregions, and over 3800 domaines, Burgundy offers an endless array of wine tasting options. Moreover,  its quaint lifestyle and respect for tradition provides a lovely interlude from the hectic pace of city life.

In Burgundy, two grape varietals rein supreme: the noble Pinot Noir, and the fair-haired Chardonnay. Home to notable Grand Crus such as Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, and Romanée-Conti, Burgundy also boasts the production of affordable Crémant de Bourgogne, Bourgogne Aligoté, and Bourgogne Passe-Tout-Grains, among others.

Here, terroir serves as touchstone for understanding the ‘soul’ of Burgundy’s wine. When planning your trip to Burgundy, understanding its subregions will help you get a lay of the land.


Yonne: Chablis, Grand Auxerrois

Located in the western part of Burgundy, the Yonne department includes famed Chablis and lesser-known Grand Auxerrois wine subregions. Here, high profile Chablis pours up mineral-driven Chardonnays – thanks to its famous chalky soils. Nearby  under-the-radar Grand Auxerrois proffers pocket-friendly pours of unusual diversity, including Sauvignon Blanc in St. Bris, César-Pinot Noir blends in Irancy, and Melon de Bourgogne in Vézelay.

I love Chablis for its expansive horizons, bright light and sense of independence from the rest of Burgundy. I also enjoy the affordable off-the-beaten track selection of wines made from secondary varietals that abound here.


Cote d’Or: Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beane, Hautes Côtes

The golden slopes of the Côte d’Or encompass Burgundy’s celebrated Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune subregions, glistening from Dijon to Santenay.  While Côte de Nuits wears the crown for world-class reds, Côte de Beaune holds forth with its ‘Royal Court’ of sumptuous whites, including Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, as well as velvety reds like Pommard and Volnay. The Cote d’Or also includes the lesser-ranked but higher altitude Hautes Côtes (upper slopes) that rise behind Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune.

Many consider the Cote d’Or the heart of Burgundy, and Beaune its center of the universe. It’s where I go to wander  the cobblestone streets, marvel at the weekly market, and lose myself in the quiet grandeur of this most aristocratic place.

Saône-et-Loire: Côte Chalonnaise & Mâconnais 

Beyond the high-rent Côte d’Or department lies Burgundy’s southern outpost, home to the Côte Chalonnais the Maconnais subregions, and some of Burgundy’s most budget-friendly wines.

Côte Chalonnaise lays claim to the birthplace of Burgundy’s Crémant de Bourgogne. Postcard picturesque villages like Mercurey supply a host of supple, reasonably-priced reds, while wine co-op capitol Montagny plants a flag for fresh, inexpensive whites.

Mâconnais anchors Burgundy in the south with its rolling hills, jutting escarpments, and famously refreshing whites like famous Pouilly-Fuissé.

This region serves my favorite source of super-affordable, easy-quaffing whites. Mâconnais wine makers share a desire to try harder, to exceed expectations – maybe because they fall in the shadows of bigger shouldered Chablis and Cote d’Or. I also enjoy Macônnais for its proximity to another favorite wine region, Beaujolais.

All in all, Burgundy offers wine connoisseurs, neophytes and voyagers alike unimaginable treasures worth discovering, for those fortunate enough to venture there. Like any seductress, Burgundy waits patiently  with a sly smile for you to unlock her charms.

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Copyrighted© 2012-2014. All images courtesy the author. All Rights reserved.

Thank you: Janine Marsh, The Good Life France


Écoutez! FWS Update

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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It’s official! binNotes has passed the FWS Bourgogne Master Level Program exam.

Whew…time to break out the Crémant de Bourgogne!

Thanks to my dear readers, friends, family, freelance clients, and co-workers for putting up with me during the past few months as I lived, breathed, and dreamt BOURGOGNE all day, every day…Burgundy, the most Magnificent of Obsessions. Well worth the effort.



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Terroirist Tuesday: WITWIBWON?

 Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday.Today’s Topic:  What in the World is binNotes Working on Now?…

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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binNotes, a blog for those who consider Burgundy an art, not just a beverage.

Greetings, dear readers. It’s time for another installment of Terroirist Tuesday, and today binNotes lifts the curtain to reveal what she’s working on now for forthcoming posts:



Guest Blogger, TheGoodLifeFrance.com: Tune in next Terroirist Tuesday, April 1st when binNotes talks all things Burgundy. No joke.

Meet the WineMaker Wednesdays: It’s happening…In April, binNotes rolls out a monthly series of interviews with wine makers worldwide, staring with a Napa Valley icon…stay tuned to Meet the Wine Maker!

Pruning 101: A day in the fields with my sister, the vineyard manager, at an undisclosed location in Eastern Washington…just us, our pruning shears, and Instagram…

In the meantime, check out the latest contributions unveiled by my wine writer peeps over at MWWCBlog. This month’s topic: Luck.

Thanks for stopping by…feel free to leave your comments below.



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Terroirist Tuesday: Get Your #Terroir On, Part 2

Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday. Today’s Topic: Terroir, Part 2

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by L. M. Archer, FWS

Welcome back! First, a shout out to thedrunkencyclist, who graciously pointed out that these Terroirist Tuesday quizzes lack a clear winner, only general results. True. Unfortunately, while PollDaddy looks pretty, it only quantifies the answers, not qualifies them, viz, doesn’t say who answered what.

Ok, ok. binNotes promises to post future quizzes without visually appealing but statistically unappealing PollDaddy – opting instead for the good ole’ ‘Comments’ section to track results. This should make the competitive at heart among you – everyone – enjoy the experience a bit more.

So without further ado – let’s cut to the chase and post the Terroir quiz results (press ‘View Results’) and  the answers below.

Well. Those are the results. Here are the answers:

1. Terroir refers to: All of the above. 

  • A viti-vinicultural concept regarding a defined piece of land.
  • A term derived from the word ‘territory.’ 
  • A Burgundian term describing the various climactic, topographical and vinicultural influences contributing to a wine’s unique personality.

2. In Burgundy, the term ‘climat’: Refers to a defined piece of land.

3. In Burgundy, a cadastral unitIs a technical term used by geographers to describe a parcel of land.

That it – we’ll unpack the term terroir in Terroirist Tuesday: Terroir: Part 3…after a few fun sidetrack posts, including binNotes first guest-blogging gig on all things Burgundy for The Good Life France.

In the meantime…remember: Life without wine is no life at all…thanks for stopping by. Santé!

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved. All photos courtesy of the author.

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Terroirist Tuesday: WITWSBB? Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne 2014!

Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday. Where In The World Should binNotes Be?

Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne 2014, certainement.

Terroirist Tuesday: Terroir, Part 2 resumes next Tuesday.

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by L. M. Archer, FWS

Image: Courtesy BIVB

Image: Courtesy BIVB

binNotes was honored to be invited, and slated to attend  Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne March 17-21, 2014 – an international trade convention held every other year in Burgundy. However, unexpected work and study commitments pulled me offsides. Absent Burgundy in body, I will nonetheless be there in spirit, devoting this week’s Terroirist Tuesday to all things Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne

(Our talk on Terroir  will resume next week. Which is actually a good thing – because this gives you more time to take Get Your Terroir On.)


Established in 1992, the Grands Jours de Bourgogne spans one week in March, and occurs every two years. The international trade show brings together wine representatives and press in a series of tastings held throughout Burgundy –  not in a sterile convention center, but rather  ‘in the heart of the vineyard’. Did I mention the flawless logistics of this event… off-the-hook shuttle service, press kits and gracious event coordinators?


So this is what we’re all missing, folks. The week-long event includes:

  • 15 wine-tasting sessions
  •  10,000+ wines,
  • 1,000~ wine-growers

Sound daunting? Well, after a few tastings, thing may muddle a bit…But the French, those lovers of logic and precision, map out the week to allow for tastings in one subregion a day; each day of the week corresponding to one of of Burgundy’s five subregions.

The  schedule flows as follows:

  • Monday, March 17: Chablis/Grand Auxerrois
  • Tuesday, March 18: Côte de Nuits
  • Wednesday, March 19: Mâconnais
  • Thursday, March 20: Côte Chalonnaise
  • Friday, March 21: Côte de Beaune

I’ve included a link to the schedule for your perusal…attempting to outline each day’s events  proved too demoralizing…eyeballing all those missed tastings…well, you get the picture.

Actually, let me help paint one for you. Here’s a cool video of the event  for your viewing and listening pleasure. Now if they could just figure out a way to port in the wine for a full sensory experience…enjoy, and see you back here next week for another Terroirist Tuesday…Santé!

Thanks toBIVB

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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