WITWIB? @ChocolateSalon 2014

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog. WITWIB?

International Chocolate Salon –  Seattle 2014

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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That’s right…somebody’s gotta do it. binNotes reprises her role as a judge at the 7th annual International Chocolate Salon this Sunday, May 4th at Seattle’s Bell Harbor Convention Center. Please check back for my take on the terroir of chocolate…Cheers!

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

UndergroundCellar | Sonoma Winecation

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Remember binNotes’ 2013 recurring fan-shout out  feature #WW ?

Well, today binNotes takes it for a #FF spin, with a special cameo appearance by:


I love winecations. I really love an all-expenses paid winecation. Which has yet to happen. But… Underground Cellar’s Sonoma Winecation giveaway offers just that – a chance to wine an all-inclusive uber-lux getaway for four (4) to Sonoma’s wine region, including airfare, dinners, VIP winemaker experiences, and a weekend stay at Villa Terra Nova Wine Country Retreat.

Jeffrey Shaw, wunderkind  founder and CEO of Underground Cellars –  the hip, ahead-of-the-curve, only-one-of-its-kind  reverse discount upgrade wine site in Napa and Sonoma county –  chatted with binNotes recently the event, and how they do what they do.

bN: Why a ‘Sonoma Getaway’ giveaway?

JS:  ” Underground Cellars has enjoyed huge success as a start-up wine upgrade wine site. We wanted to share the success to wine lovers by offering a giveaway getaway to our backyard, the Sonoma wine region.”

bN: Your site’s growth has been explosive – why the loyal following?

JS: “For several years now, wineries have looked to ‘flash’ sites to sell their excess and overstocked wine, but at a huge cost — bastardization of their brand, reputation, and pricing structure… There is a better way for wineries to quickly sell their wine without sacrificing their brand and future pricing structure.  All they have to do is ditch the discounts and replace them with upgrades! Our members get that.

And the wineries that work with us here at Underground Cellar offer up wines they’re proud to pour – not ones that have been sitting around an un-temperature controlled wine distribution warehouse for two or three years. Our members  appreciate this committment to quality.”

bN: How did you come up with the Sonoma Getaway prizes? They’re really cool.

JS: “Underground Cellars enjoys established relationships with a lot of boutique Napa and Sonoma wine makers. Thanks to these relationships, and buzz from our loyal Underground Cellar members,  we’ve been able to attract support from  local legends like the girl and the fig, Iron Horse Vineyards, and Villa Terra Nova. They’ve been super excited to participate in the promotion, which is great!”

bN: One final question…It’s raining here in Seattle…what’s the weather like right now in Sonoma? 

JS: “Sunny. Warm – in the low 80’s. I’m going to get my mail right now, and it’s beautiful.”

Nice. Find out more about how to enter to win Underground Cellars winecation and bask in some of that Sonoma sunshine here.


NOTE: binNotes asked Brand Director  Brian Gallagher about contest entrant data collection. Underground Cellar doesn’t spam. Contest entrants can ‘unsubscribe’ at any time.

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Thank you:

Brian Gallagher, Partnership | Brand Director, UndergroundCellar

Jeffrey Shaw, CEO | Founder, UndergroundCellar

Seattle Wine and Food Experience – A Great Place to Taste!


SWFE - Seattle Food and Wine Experience

binnotes.com | a wine blog gets the inside scoop tonight at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience  Tweet Up at Bellevue Village QFC Private Lounge. The private event features a sneak peak at Seattle Wine and Food Experience  – the premier showcase for libations and all things culinary in the Northwest this February 23rd 2014 at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.

Follow binNotes as she tweets her little hashtags off tonight!

Look for:

 #SWFE/#swfeQFC @SeattleFoodWine


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See you back here next Terroirist Tuesday for: Côte Chalonnais, Part 3 of 3: Meet the Winemakers!

Côte Chalonnais, Part 2

Côte Chalonnais, Part 1:

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

12th Annual Washington State Wine Awards

12th Annual Washington State Wine Awards Honors Food and Wine Leaders

by L.M. Archer

Washington Wine Commission honored wine and food industry leaders at the 12th annual Washington State Wine Awards on Monday, January 26, 2014 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.

Washington State Wine President Steve Warner and staff organized the elegant, four-hour extravaganza featuring wine tasting from over 70 Washington state vintners, gourmet nibbles, hob-nobbing, and awards emceed by Master Sommelier Rob Bigelow. 

Northwest food and wine impresario Jamie Peha of Peha Promotions, created the event twelve years ago to showcase Washington’s wine and food industry post 9/11.  Today, the Annual Washington State Wine Awards stands out as one of the most anticipated annual events for Washington wineries, retailers, distributors, hotels, tourism vendors, and restaurants alike.

Awards include Sommelier of the Year (Jeff Lindsey-Thorsen, RN74 Seattle), Restaurant of the Year (The Marc Restaurant – Marcus Whitman Hotel, Walla Walla), and the Walter Clore Honorarium (Bob Betz, Betz Winery for ‘an individual who has demonstrated dedication to the advancement of the Washington State wine industry.’

Washington State Wine Awards 2014: 

Walter Clore Honorarium: Bob Betz – Betz Winery

Sommelier of the Year: Jeff Lindsey-Thorsen – RN74 Seattle

Restaurant of the Year:  The Marc Restaurant – Walla Walla WA

Independent Restaurant of the Year: Russell’s –  Bothell WA

Restaurant Group of the Year:  Schwartz Brothers Restaurants

Best Event Featuring Washington Wine: Anthony’s Restaurants,  ‘Raise a Glass, Fund a Schoalrship’

Retail Group of the Year: PCC Natural Markets - Seattle

Retailer of the YearTotal Wine & More

Independent Retailer of the Year: Full Pull Wines – Seattle

Retail Salesperson of the Year: Dan McCarthy, McCarthy & Schiering Wine – Seattle

Distributor of the Year: Cru Selections (WA)

Distributor Saleperson of the Year: Jason Harris -Young’s Market Company (WA)

Hotel of the Year:  The Westin Bellevue Hotel

Tourism Champion of the Year: Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Center

Tourism Concierge of the Year: John Cooper, Yakima Valley Tourism

Washington State Wine Commission deserves an award themsevles or a job well done. Cheers!

Thank you to:  Washington State Wine Commission

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

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Leave your comments below…cheers!


#MWWC5 | Monthly Wine Writing Contest #5: FEAST

Welcome to binNotes foray into Monthly Wine Writing Contest


by: L.M. Archer, FWS

Monthly Wine Writers Contest 5: Feast.

Blame it on the drunken cyclist, who started this whole bloody contest. As one of his legion of followers, of course I’m coercible –  at least this month.  Yes, this month’s clever little Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, devised by last month’s winner confessionsofawinegeek.com, begs attention, like my adorable mascot Lucca. This month’s topic? Feast.

It’s pretty simple: Food + Wine = Feast. My recent trip to Burgundy confirms this.

Not just any trip to Burgundy. No – a  Masters Level Immersion Program in Bourgogne Wine through the French Wine Society, conducted by Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB.)

A program steeped in classroom, négotiant, domaine and co-op visits, fueled by quintessentially French multi-course luncheons and dinners. For a lactose-intolerant, non-meat eating lightweight inbiber (* 2 oz. leaves me tipsy; 4 oz. illegible), the trip sounded anything but a feast.

And yet, like any hero’s journey, this one involves crossing a threshold from one’s ordinary world (Seattle) to endure tests (viz., much feasting), descent into an inner cave ( …MANY inner caves…) confronting of demons (see above*), emerging triumphant with boon (bottles) to share with one’s tribe (i.e., under-appreciated, over-inebriated wine and food writers of the world.)

In short, a tale not of sound and fury, but of mirth and feast – much feast.

Let us begin, then,  as all stories do – at the beginning:

Part I: Crossing the threshold….

We’re not in Seattle anymore, Toto. No, we are in Burgundy, i.e., Bourgogne. This means rigorous days of BIVB class studies, followed by classroom tastings, followed by field visits, followed by field tastings…more feasting at wine-paired luncheons…more field visits, more field tastings, more feasting at wine-paired dinners…Whew. I try diligently to take one for the team.

I sip. I spit. I feast. I pray I can keep up as I ‘mind my head’ descending into domaine and négotiant innermost caves….

Part 2: Entrance of the cave(s)…


‘Minding one’s head'(…minds out of gutters, dear readers…right now…): the first test to entering Burgundy’s wine caves. Specifically, ducking through small cave entrances built centuries ago – back when men were small, wine casks large,  and per capita wine consumption even larger.

Once inside, the next test: avoiding  moisture-laden, mold-covered, cobweb-strewn limestone walls. In some cases, only candles light the way as we crunch along the gravelled floors. Practical, those gravel floors – maintaining temperatures, and serving as ad-hoc spittoons in a pinch.

Despite an errant head bump or slimey hand-swipe along the wall, it’s now time to feast on some of the wines stacked along the cave walls.

Part 3: Return with the boon bottles…

Feast your eyes, dear readers, on the treasures of Burgundy’s Aladdin-like caves. Nothing better than a Grand Cru served at cave temperature by candle-light, shared by a wine maker with roots to Burgundy spanning several generations.

And what a feast of vineous treasures!  These caves hold the seat of Burgundy’s soul, wines time-honed and terroir-timbred in each garnet gulp. A feast best shared, not hoarded. Santé!

VOTE FOR #MWWC5 NOW: confessionsofawinegeek.com

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Thanks to:
BIVB – Brigitte Houdeline, Director & Jean-Pierre Renard, Guide
French Wine Society

Feast: WINE
D. de Bellene
D. Bouchard Père et Fils
D. Thibert Père & Fils
D. de la Croix de Senaillet
D. du Meix Foulot
D. Coste-Caumartine
D. Jean Chartron
D. Dubreuil-Fontaine
La Chablisienne
D. Bersan – Pierre Louis & Jean-François
D. Trapet Père & Fils
D. du Clos Frantin – Albert Bichot

L’Ermitage de Corton
Le Montrachet
Le Conty
Le Bistrot des Grands Crus
Le Bitrot du Bord de l’Eau
Le Clos du Cèdre

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#Wine Notes LIVE from #France

Burgundy's Cote de Nuits - world's most elegant Pinot Noir producing area.jpg

Bonjour, dear readers. No, binNotes has NOT been remiss in blogging duties while in Burgundy…just without wifi.

But here in Avignon, where binNotes resides south for a little sun before heading back to Paris and then stateside -viola – le wifi works!

I have to admit – it’s hard staying on point in Burgundy with days that start at 8 a and end at 11 p…involving much tasting and vineyard visits and more tastings and eating, then domaine visits and more tastings and then again more eating and drinking…the lines get slurred after awhile.

But make no mistake. Burgundy IS all that, and a bag of chips…truffle chips, to be exact. Oh, and please don’t ask Burgundians what kind of pinot noir they make. They don’t make pinot noir – they make Burgundy. Big difference.

Elaboration will continue next Terroirist Tuesday. Suffice it to say we have A LOT to talk about, dear readers. A lot. Burgundy…A Love Story continues…stronger than ever. Sante!

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.


…in case you haven’t noticed, binNotes has a new look. That’s not all.  In October, binNotes changes hats at Lachini Vineyards to Guest Blogger during my upcoming studies in Burgundy and travels in France.

Look for upcoming October guest blogs at: lachinivineyardsblog.com.

In addition:

I’ve got some great events coming up, including attending Restaurant Zoe’s Burgundy Wine Dinner with Peter Wasserman this Monday, September 30th –  can’t wait to share the experience.

NOTE: Peter Wasserman’s mother is legendary  Wendy  Wasserman, a guest instructor at French Wine Society’s Master Level Bourgogne Program in which I’m enrolled. The Immersion program includes studies at Burgundy Wine School, guided by esteemed instructor Jean-Pierre Renard.

No, this isn’t an info-mercial. I’m just super-excited to geek out!

NOTE: WordPress has started incorporating random ads into sites of bloggers who do not pay to ‘opt out’, as a means of collecting revenue.  Regrets – those ARE info-mercials.


Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Seattle Chocolate Salon 2013

So many chocolates, so little time! Tough gig judging the Seattle Chocolate Salon 2013 today at Bell Harbor Conference Center…a picture’s worth a thousand words…enjoy!

binNotes’ fave: Indulge Chocolate Co’s. Basil Chocolate Truffle bar…delish!

Copyrighted 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved.

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WITWIB? #Seattle #Chocolate Salon!


binNotes looks forward to judging at Seattle Chocolate Salon this Sunday, May 5th at Seattle’s Bell Harbor International Conference center!

It’s gonna be a great event…hope to see you there. Cheers!


Copyrighted 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved.  Follow binNotes.

Culinary Interventions: #Sonoma

Sonoma requires no culinary interventions, instead boasting an abundance of garden-fresh, locally grown, gorgeously prepared gastronomica served by uber-upbeat staff.

Here’s a sampling of binNotes’ favorite Sonoma feastables:

Healdsburg, CA:

Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar
403 Healdsburg Ave. | Healdsburg, CA. 95448 |

Winter is NOT coming to this cornerstone in local Stark Restaurant empire’s culinary crown. Specializing in fresh seafood, artisan small plates, and a stellar selection of wines by the glass.

Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

117 North St. | Healdsburg, CA. 95448 |

A Lyon-style bijou, this button-size bistro’s handwritten fresh sheet changes daily, including affordable house wines by the glass. Santé!

Ravenous Cafe & Lounge on Urbanspoon

420 Center St. | Healdsburg, CA. 95448 |

Ole! The Stark Restaurant empire takes on tapas with finesse and flair. Trademark tasty small plates and unique Spanish wines and sangria by the glass or bottle. binNotes’ fave: Tortilla Española – potato omelette with Alioli – ¡Salud¡

Bravas! on Urbanspoon

Campo Fina
330 Healdsburg Ave. | Healdsburg, CA 95448 |

Unfettered Italian cuisine featuring wood-oven fresh pizzas, plus binNote’s personal fave: polenta. Want to bring your own bottle of local wine? No problem – for a $20 corkage fee. Bonus bocce court out back – what’s not to love? Salute!

Campo Fina on Urbanspoon

Flying Goat Coffee
419 Center Street | Healdsburg, CA. 95448 |
– Eddie

THE place for a cuppa joe in the morning, brewed on one of two sleek Italian machinas. Add a bevy of hand-baked goods and you have the makings of a perfect morning after a night of overindulgence…

Flying Goat Coffee on Urbanspoon

Sonoma, CA:
Girl and the Fig
111 W. Spain St. | Sonoma, CA. 95476 |

Hip, happenin’ staff keep the overflow brunch and bar crowd comfortably numb with hand-crafted cocktails and eclectic eats. binNotes’ personal fave: Fig Royale…sparklin’ good!

Girl & The Fig on Urbanspoon

For more on Sonoma:
Part 1 of 3: Wine Road of Sonoma
Part 2 of 3: It’s Always Sunny in Sonoma
Part 3 of 3: Down in the Valley(s)

More binNotes’ Culinary Interventions:

Patina – Los Angeles, CA.
Canlis – Seattle, WA.
Villa Creek – Paso Robles, CA.

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