Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS

WITWIB? International Pinot Noir Conference 2014

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It’s time! binNotes heads south this weekend for the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, OR.  – the heart of the WV…stay tuned for updates.

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Guest Blog Redux: International Food and Wine Pairing Round Up

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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International Food and Wine Pairing Roundup

Here’s the newly migrated link to my recent guest blogger contribution ito the 2014 International Food and Wine Pairing Blogger Roundup, hosted by London wine merchant Roberson Wine.



 Have a happy 4th of July!

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Thank you:

Carlo – TUG

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

Meet the Winemaker: Anne Parent – Domaine Parent

Welcome to binNotes: Meet the Winemaker

Today’s Exclusive:  Anne Parent, Domaine Parent

Pommard – Burgundy FR

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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A winemaker’s story is a true hero’s journey –  involving obstacles, an occasional mentor, and the ultimate reward – in this case, wine. Details may vary, but never the storyline.

Today’s winemaker, Anne Parent of Domaine Parent hails from Pommard in Côte de Beaune, part of Burgundy‘s illustrious Côte d’Or wine region.

Anne Parent’s winemaking heritage harkens back 12 generations, including an ancestor who served as wine supplier to Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States.

binNotes first encountered Anne Parent at the Terroirs et Signatures de Bourgogne 2014 Seattle Trade Show – her wines ferocious in flavor and unflinching in tensile structure – a combination of power and finesse, coupled with undeniable character.

binNotes brings you this formidable winemaker, in her own words:

Who or what brought you to winemaking?

“Actually, I have wanted to have this job since I was a little girl. When my father retired, my sister Catherine and I took over the Domaine. Winemaking has always fascinated me, it thus came very naturally. “

Share with readers the brief history of Domaine Parent. What makes it unique?

“The origin of the Parent family dates back to the 17th century in Volnay, and then one of our ancestors came to Pommard to settle down. Catherine and I represent the 12th generation of winegrowers, which is quite unique. We represent the very long history of this family, who has always owned vineyards on Pommard, which is our specialty.

Last but not least, our ancestor Etienne Parent became the Burgundy wine supplier of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the USA.”

Some Burgundian-trained women winemakers speak of having to fight for a place in school and in the vineyard. As a formidable vigneron, industry leader (past VP of BIVB) and founder of Femme et Vins de Bourgogne, you seem inured to the battle. Do you find Burgundy more receptive to women winemakers today?

“Indeed, during ages women could not go into the cuveries, mainly for religious reasons.

Mentalities have now changed a great deal and today, despite its authentic and traditional aspect, Burgundy is open-minded, and lots of women are involved in wine production.

In the old days, sons always succeeded to their fathers, or daughters had to marry winegrowers.

Nowadays, women are renowned to be as professional and skilled as men.”

What was your impetus for starting Femme et Vins de Bourgogne? Has the success of the organization surprised you? 

“My first motivation was the need to share and exchange technical information on winegrowing and winemaking.

Moreover, it was important to go and taste at each other’s Domaine, to learn to know each other and defend women status in wine properties.

When we created this association in 2000, we were only 6. Today we are more than 40, representing the 5 Burgundy sub-regions: Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Châlonnaise, and Côte Mâconnaise.

This is why I am particularly proud of this association, which promotes diversity of Burgundy wines, wine culture, and the know-how and competence of the women who are involved in winemaking.”

You’ve taken a leadership position in the reclassification process of Pommard Grand Crus. Many readers may not know the history of Pommard’s original 1935 classifications. Explain the reasoning for the reclassification, and its impact if approved.

“The two Premiers Crus “les Epenots” and “les Rugiens” that we are trying to reclassify in Grand Cru had already been proposed when the INAO (National Institute of Appellations of Origin) was created in 1935. At the time, winegrowers had not been able to agree because they were afraid of higher taxes and lower yield. In the confusing context of the time, Premiers Crus were better sold than Grand Crus. Thus, the proposal did not succeed.

Today, everybody agrees on the renowned quality of these two Premiers Crus, which has always been more highlighted than the other Premiers Crus, and that Pommard would deserve to have one or two Grand Crus. The official reclassification request was officially processed to the INAO in 2014, but it is a long and complex procedure, and we cannot know today what the result will be.”

You’ve spoken with great force and affection about the clay soils of Pommard, and the wines created there – expressive, intense, complex. Yet you also work with other regions as well: Corton, Ladoix, Monthelie, Volnay. How do these various terroirs impact the flavor profiles of the wines produced there, as compared to your beloved Pommard? Do you have a favorite? 

“Pommard is an appellation with a certain character, and much personality.

Wines can be powerful, intense, and solid, but also refined, elegant, stylish, complex and sensual.

Pommard is one of the greatest appellation of great wines of Burgundy, and especially of Côte de Beaune. It produces exclusively Reds, with a good potential for ageing. Pommard cannot be compared to any other appellation.

Of all the charming and seductive Premiers Crus which we produce at Domaine Parent, my two favorites are “Les Epenots” and “Les Chaponnières.”

Domaine Parent is in the process of 100% biodynamic certification. What led you to invest in biodynamic farming? What challenges do you face? 

When my sister Catherine and I took over the Domaine in 1998, we very quickly orientated ourselves towards sustainable winegrowing methods. We also have worked a lot on soil analyses and terroir organic matters.

We wanted to go further in this process, by personal philosophy. We had the feeling that we could work differently, respecting the environment, protecting our health and bringing more precision in our wines.

We are now certified organic. We also use biodynamic processes. These cultural methods make us work more rigorously, observe more and we need to be very reactive, but the challenge is definitely worth it and we see the benefits every day.”

Anything else you care to share with readers about your domaine, your wines, or about Burgundy that readers may not know? 

“Burgundy is not complicated but rich of appellations.

It is a patchwork of different terroirs, and an alchemy between the two authentic and historical grape varieties : Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is made of multiple and mysterious terroirs and “climats” of our villages, and different winegrowers and winemakers.

Balance is the main goal at Domaine Parent, be it in its vineyards or in its wines.”

One final question: “If wine making has taught me anything, it’s taught me…  

“If wine making has taught me anything, it’s taught me to stay humble in front of nature, to be amazed in front of vineyards, and realize that if oenology is a science, winemaking is an art.”

 For more information:

Bourgognes Parent| 3 rue de la Métairie 21630 POMMARD |TEL +33 3 80 22 15 08 | FAX + 33 3 80 24 19 33




Thank you:

Anne Parent – Domaine Parent

 Alix de Gramont – Bourgognes Parent

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Terroirist Tuesday: A, B, E’s of EcoTravel to the WV

 Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday.

Today’s Topic:  A, B, E’s of Ecotravel to the Willamette Valley

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Traveling to the IPNC this summer? Want a guilt-free way to enjoy the WV while reducing your carbon footprint?  binNotes breaks down the A, B, E’s of eco-travel for you:


Amtrack offers daily round-trip routes from Seattle to Portland daily.

Fares: ~$34-$122/RT, depending upon your travel budget.

Schedule: Daily. Duration: ~4.15 hrs.

Perks: Plug ins, 2 free checked bags + 2 carry-ons, baggage assistance, Bike on Board.

Caveats: Few plug-ins available in value/coach.

Find out more about Amtrack travel options here.


Fares: ~$17-$25/OW. Non-refundable.

Schedule: Daily. Duration: ~3.15 hrs.

Perks: WiFi, extra leg room, plug-ins, reserved seating, group boarding. NOTE: One $1 fare offered randomly each one-way trip.

Caveats: Non-refundable fares. No additional discounts offered. 2 small carry-ons + 1 bag stowed. No baggage assistance. Bikes & golf clubs allowed as 1 stowed item as space allows.

Find out more about BoltBus travel options here.

Once you’ve arrived in Portland, ecoShuttle offers 100% biodiesel travel options to Oregon’s Willamette Wine Country.

Fares: Prices vary, according to group size. ecoShuttle caters to any group size, but the average group has between 8 and 20 wine lovers. Many wineries try to limit the size of groups, though ecoShuttle can work with groups of up to 32 guests.

Schedule:  ecoShuttle picks you up where you want,  when you want.

Perks: ecoShuttle whisks you to wine country, where partners in sustainability provide discounted or complimentary tasting fees to EcoShuttle groups. Enjoy a taste of Oregon while keeping a positive impact on the planet!ecoShuttle also can suggest and arrange boxed lunches from local providers along the tour. View a sample itinerary here.

Caveats: Guests are welcome to enjoy wine along the way, though it’s best to keep your palette clean for the next stop.

Find out more about EcoShuttle options here.



Thank you:




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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. A 

Terroirist Tuesday: International Food and Wine Pairing Blogger RoundUp

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Follow    binNotes | a wine blog: |   Facebook    |     Twitter    |    Pinterest

Terroirist Tuesday: International Food and Wine Pairing Roundup

Read binNotes’ contribution to International Food and Wine Pairing Blogger Roundup here.

Cheers to London’s upscale Roberson Wine

for including binNotes in the fun!


 Check back  for binNotes’ upcoming summer features:

Terroirist Tuesday: Napa for Normal People

Wine Region Road Trip: The A, B, E’s of EcoTravel

Meet the Winemaker: Vigneron de Bourgogne Exclusive



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Thank you:

Carlo – TUG

Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

#WW: Meet the Winemaker: Forgeron Cellars

Welcome to binNotes Terroirist Tuesday: Meet the Winemaker

Today’s Exclusive:  Marie-Eve Gilla – Forgeron Cellars

Walla Walla WA

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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A winemaker’s story is a true hero’s journey –  involving obstacles, an occasional mentor, and the ultimate reward – in this case, wine. Details may vary, but never the storyline.

Today’s winemaker, Marie-Eve Gilla of Forgeron Winery in Walla Walla, started her hero’s journey in France, slaying dragons to earn one of five  coveted places for women in Burgundy’s prestigious University of Dijon wine school at a time when many male vignerons still believed that women in the cellar caused the wine to turn. She then crossed an ocean,  a continent, and the Willamette Valley before finding her place in Washington’s Columbia Valley.

binNotes first tasted Forgeron Chardonnay in 2009 after my first trip to Burgundy, and immediately recognized a grace, elegance and refinement unlike other ‘new world’ chardonnays I’d tried prior.

Today’s Meet the Winemaker series shares her story – the story of a new world winemaker with a deft old world touch and tenacious spirit.


bn: Who or what brought you to the world of wine?
MEG: I was raised near Paris, and born in the Jura – which is close to Burgundy – and all my mother’s family lived there. During the school year we were near Paris but we had this country home and I loved the country. Early on I worked on a farm with goats and geese and it was really fun but if you’re not actually from a farming community and are coming from Paris it’s hard to find a school for farming. So, after I did my equivalencies and started general studies I said, “I am not going to go and get my PhD in something just because.” I wanted to do something that I liked, that’s when I went into viticulture.
When I was studying viticulture in Burgundy I started tasting extraordinary wines, nothing like the stuff my parents had at the table… I became intrigued by these outstanding wines, and decided to pursue winemaking. When you start studying viticulture you’re exposed to the wine and understand a lot more and become sucked into the winemaking. And also, I love chemistry, not so much the chemistry part of winemaking but understanding the chain of events that makes grape juice into wine, a little like the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
Working on a farm when I was younger was definitely part of my inspiration– I loved to be outdoors. I still get to do that with harvest. I will go usually out to the vineyards in June, July, August, and of course September, so we can see what’s going on and decide when to pick the grapes.

bN: As a Parisian-born, Burgundy-educated winemaker, how did you end up in Walla Walla, WA.?
MEG: I decided to go back to Burgundy to learn viticulture (Bachelor) and winemaking (Master) at the University of Dijon, where I gained practical experience and training in Burgundy’s wineries and vineyards. In 1991, I went to Oregon for a short internship and had the opportunity to stay.
I worked my way up from the bottom, washing tanks and barrels for a while at Argyle. Because the Oregon wine industry was not doing particularly well in the early nineties (a very far cry from the current Pinot Noir success) , I moved to Washington, even if it was a scary proposition to drive from luscious Oregon to dry Eastern Washington in my beat up Ford Escort. I worked with Covey Run, Hogue and Gordon Brothers during the next 10 years. In 2001, I was given the opportunity to become part owner, manager and winemaker at Forgeron Cellars, which was my goal in life (I like to be part of the decision process).

bN: How does your Burgundian training inform the wines you make today?
MEG: There are not very many people interested by white winemaking here. Reds are more masculine, more serious. At least I think that’s how people feel. I have a different vision because working in Burgundy you taste some of the best whites in the world and you just understand about persistence and balance and everything that happens when you taste the wines. But maybe you don’t get that perspective if you’ve been born and raised here.
I had a white wine from Burgundy that I will remember the taste and the longevity on my palate all of my life. It was a Corton-Charlemagne and I understood the power of wine…wine at its greatest. I was an intern at Antonin Rodet in Burgundy and the tasting was part of a quality control session. This wine still inspires me as I aim to always craft the best Chardonnay possible.
I have also had a 1964 Gevrey Chambertin at a family gathering and what impressed me was the ageing that added complexity and the changes it went through as I was savoring it…it was extremely delicate yet incredibly powerful. People think elegance and finesse are weak qualities, but after this experience I understood the importance of elegance and do not perceive it as a weakness. So complexity and elegance are qualities I pursue for my wines.
I make wines that are deep, layered, and rich. These wines are excellent with food and have good aging potential. My wines open up slowly in your mouth like a funnel, complex and focused with good tannins and structure for great balance and a great, lasting aftertaste.

 bN: Do you ever go back to Burgundy to visit? If so, what’s it like for women wine
makers in Burgundy today that may differ from when you were there?
MEG: Back in my days (long time ago :), it was extremely difficult to get into winemaking school in Burgundy as they would only take 5 women for every 30-35 students. The reason was that it takes a lot of physical strength to carry barrels up and down steep stairs to the underground cellars. Or maybe the reason was that they just did not want women, some of the cellars actually did not allow women in their barrel caves, said they make the wines turn…
In any case, I had to push really hard to be one of the women admitted to winemaking school because I wasn’t married to a winery owner and I wasn’t already within the wine business. I remember the dean telling me later that he had never seen anybody so persistent; I still wonder if that was a criticism or a compliment?
Things have changed now and it’s about half girls in these schools although it can be quite tough for them to get a job.

bN: Burgundy is known for two primary varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. What’s it like to work with the broad palette of varietals available in the Columbia Valley?
MEG: Although our core production is Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Rhône blends, Forgeron is also known for experimentation. We started making Zinfandel in our first vintage in 2001. Zinfandel is not a grape that has much of a history in Washington, but we have made one ever since and we have become identified by it. We have also experimented with varietals like Barbera, Sangiovese, and Primitivo. Because Forgeron Cellars’ location is small, we will never get bigger, which allows us to dedicate ourselves to smaller lots of wines and gives us more flexibility for blending and experimenting. That is the main reason (besides ownership) why I joined the winery. I make all the wines with my assistant and having only two people involved allows for very hands on winemaking
But to me, it’s not just about the broad palette of varietals available in Washington; it’s also about the difference in growing conditions between here and Burgundy. I like the vineyards here and I believe that the climatic conditions in Washington are more conducive to making true varietal wines. We only get 6 to 8 inches of rain per year, allowing us to monitor vine vigor with gentle and only necessary irrigation. Our season is shorter so knowledgeable growers know that only low yielding vineyards will ripen in time before the frost. We are still defining ourselves and do not have yet the pressure that Californian wines are facing with competition; we do not have to fit into a mold as we are still shaping that mold.

bN: How does the Columbia Valley’s terroir, including unique features such as native basalt bedrock, glacial till from the Missoula floods, and wind-blown loess, inform your wines?
MEG: I believe that great wines start in the vineyard. You will never produce good wine with bad grapes. Wine ultimately is a function of the soil, grower and climate.
The prevalent dry conditions and sandy loam soils we have in Eastern Washington, combined with the plants being on their own roots, provide conditions extremely well suited to growing vines that will yield intense flavors. I favor very warm sites for my Bordeaux reds, average temperature sites for my Rhone varietals and cooler sites for my whites
After over 15 years in Washington State, I have found some very interesting sites that consistently produce great grapes. I call these terroirs as this is a very important notion for a French person that a particular piece of land will be different from any other and have its own characteristics. It is important to note that a great Cabernet Sauvignon site will often be a terrible chardonnay site so identifying the best site for a given varietal is a huge part of making great wines. Because I do not rely heavily on high fermenting temperature and heavy toast for the aging process, I really need to find great terroir characteristics. I source grapes from different vineyards to produce complexity in the wines.
The interaction of the topography (degree of slope + light & drainage) + soil (sandy loam), weather, and the grower contribute to give a specific personality to the wines made from these grapes. These will give unique characteristics to the grapes that are produced consistently every year.
To me, good terroir is extremely important but also a good relationship with the grower—I need to feel very comfortable and communicate well with the grower.

bN: You’re married to a winemaker (Gilles Nicault, Director of Winemaking and
Viticulture at Longshadows.) That must make for some interesting shop talk. Do
you differ much in philosophy regarding wine making?
MEG: Men are more scientific. I go more from instinct, from my gut — it’s sort of a more romantic approach to winemaking.
While the current fashion is to make very big, dark-colored wines with lots of fruit, flavor, alcohol and oak, women winemakers try for balance and equilibrium in wines, men look for power. My style is more female, more complex and elegant.
We don’t compete because I have found my strengths and he’s found his strengths and we have a very different sense of qualities.

bN: What are your greatest challenges as a wine maker in the Columbia Valley?
MEG: One of the greatest things that happened in Washington is both viticulture and winemaking skills have grown tremendously in the last 25 years. At the same time, the vineyards are getting more mature and the growers are getting savvier at matching specific varietals to specific sites. So we are making better wines all the time, especially with increased competition, that is great for the consumer!
Although the scenery has changed in the last 25 years, the challenges remain. In the early nineties, there was no recognition of Washington wines–my mother thought that I lived in Washington DC for at least 3 years! It was very difficult to get a job in this industry and both my husband and I had a very long commute to our respective wineries (after we got together in Zillah in 1994). Also, there did not seem to be very much expertise in the winemaking side, most people in the business did not travel much and they were not very aware of other wine styles or wine regions. But the industry was very friendly and we all knew and enjoyed each other. It seemed at that time that restaurants and wine shops in Washington State would buy the wine if it was properly made and presented. It was also easier to meet and know all the players and I knew a lot of the accounts in Seattle. At the same time, it was harder to take the wine out of State (especially on the East Coast).
Now the industry has more momentum and it is also more competitive. Growers and winemakers are still working very well together but marketing is much, much more important now, as only the fit wineries will survive. There are also many virtual wineries and winemakers. They do not have a physical place and contract to have their wines made. These “wineries” have business savvy owners who do an excellent job in the marketplace. These wineries do not have the traditional overhead, they buy wines already made and therefore hit the marketplace at a faster pace with well-positioned products.
In a nutshell, there was not much wine awareness and expertise in the early nineties and now wine is a bigger part of life but the industry is also more competitive. Either way, I like both times and am glad that I was able to witness the changes!

bN: Anything else you care to share with readers about Forgeron Cellars that makes it different from other wineries in the area?
MEG: Forgeron is the French word for blacksmith, as the winery/tasting room was the former site of a turn-of-the-century blacksmith shop downtown Walla Walla. The word “forgeron” also has a slightly different meaning in French, referring to artisans who build with their hands combining experience with an extensive knowledge of their trade. We started construction in June 2001, we were winery #23 in Walla Walla at the time, and there are over 150 Walla Walla wineries today.
Walla Walla is more well-known for Syrahs, and those big, bold wines. That’s why also I have done so well, because we are a little bit different – I mean we can make those big wines but we really like to explore a wide variety of styles. My wines have a sense of place. I practice minimal intervention winemaking, enabling each grape to fully express itself. By respecting and listening to the grapes through the fermentation process, I make different wines that truly relate to their origin. Using this winemaking philosophy allows me to craft food-friendly wines of great character. These wines need the magic of barrel and bottle aging to fully develop, they show good balance and integration when young and increased complexity and character as they age.

bN: Finally: “If wine making has taught me anything, it’s taught me…”
MEG: To be patient. To be close to nature. To listen and to let go, because the vintage is going to do what it wants to do. In the end, the winemaker is a shepherd, guiding the grapes through fermentation, maturation and adjusting winemaking to highlight the potential of each lot of grapes.

Indeed.  Click here for more information about  Marie-Eve Gilla and Forgeron Cellars.

Note: Forgeron Cellars also has a tasting room in Woodinville Wine Country.



Thank you:

Marie-Eve Gilla,  Co-Owner/Winemaker – Forgeron Cellars

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Meet the Winemaker: Torii Mor WInery

Welcome to binNotes Terroirist Tuesday: Meet the Winemaker

Today’s Exclusive:  Jacques Tardy – Torii Mor Winery 

18323 NE Fairview Dr, Dundee, OR 97115
(503) 554-0105 

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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binNotes recently talked terroir with Burgundy native and Torii Mor winemaker Jacques Tardy in anticipation of Torii Mor’s upcoming new Woodinville, WA. tasting room.


In 1993, owner and CEO Dr. Donald Olson founded Torii Mor in Dundee to honor his late son Leif Olson. The winery name reflects a blending of east and west: Torii, theJapanese word for ‘gate’, and Mor, the  Scandinavian word for ‘earth.’ Today, Torii Mor produces over 10,000 cases, and is the official wine of Portland’s Japanese Garden.

In 2004, Dr. Olson hired Jacques Tardy as Torii Mor’s winemaker. A native of Nuits Saint-Georges in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or,  Jacques hails from five generations of vignerons.


Torii Mor serves as not just a ‘gate to earth’, but as a fulcrum between Old and New World wine traditions. Jacques Tardy shares with binNotes how terroir, as well as these traditions, inform his winemaking.

Your are a native of Burgundy. You’ve been in the US since 1982. Do you ever go back to Burgundy to visit?

            “I go back every 3 years or so, I am going back in August this year, mostly to visit my family.”

 If yes, do you see any current trends in Burgundian wine making, good or bad, that break from the traditions you learned?

            “The return to less chemicals in the vineyard will be good for everyone, the workers, the wines, the consumers… for example, I brought in herbicides to my fathers vineyards in the beginning of the seventies, when most were already doing it, it was a big change that my father wasn’t comfortable with but it allowed all who used them to work more acreage. We now know that it wasn’t a good thing, at least the way we were using the herbicides since we were covering 100% of the ground. It eventually started to sterilize the soil which didn’t help the quality of the wines. Today’s vignerons have learned from those mistakes and are working smarter, still using herbicides but in a more targeted fashion, or they have gone back to tilling without herbicides. I don’t know if anything has changed in the cellars, possibly less filtration or better filters, I know evaporators and reverse osmosis have moved in as everywhere else in the world…”

How does your Burgundian training inform the wines you make today the Willamette Valley?

           ” It is a lot easier to make wine in the West coast than Burgundy, the fruit is a lot healthier to start with and we usualy have a longer growing season that allows us to pick when we like instead of Burgundy, where botrytis is present every year and forces the hand of the vignerons many times. When I started making Pinot Noir in the Willamette Valley I used a lot of stems in the fermenters, which I have gotten away from since the wines don’t have time to age in the producer cellars as they do in Burgundy. The wines are more approachable earlier to satisfy the US consumers and the 3 tier system.”

How involved are you in the vineyard, or is your primary focus as ‘chef de cave?’ For example, Torii Mor employs a double guyot training system and organic farming methods.

           “My first love was the vineyard, so I do manage the estate vineyard at Torii Mor, but most of my time is in the cellar even though I enjoy visiting often the vineyards we buy fruit from. Our estate Olson Vineyard is LIVE certified, so is the winery which allowed us to use the Oregon Certified Sustainable logo on our bottlings. As a Burgundy trained winemaker, I need to see and understand the vineyard to be able to make the best wines I know how, picking decisions are made in the vineyard not the lab.”

 Do you see a difference in Torii Mor’s wine quality due to organic vineyard practices?

           “Oregon vineyards are only less than 50 years old, the soils here are so rich in life and minerals that I don’t think it makes a difference yet, but it will in the future. Right now it is mostly a marketing matter because nobody has abused their vineyards yet, everybody in the business today is in it for the love of wine, the way of life and not just for profit… we are just recently seeing the second generation take over from their parents, still for the love of it. This is what was the biggest eye opener when I came to the US, people changing career just to be in this business, in Burgundy I only knew of one British gentleman who settled in Nuits St Georges to make wine… there may have been others but very few I am sure (everybody else had been in the business for many generations)… here it is almost everybody.”

Burgundy’s climats and lieux dits create an elaborate patchwork of micro-climats that reveal the elegance, refinement and complexity of pinot noir, the most expressive of varietals. Your wines reveal a similar ‘typicity of place.’ Perhaps you can speak to how the Willamette Valley’s terroir influences your wine making?

            “You might be surprise but I almost do the same winemaking to all the Pinot Noir, sure I do a few different things to a few because of disease or desiccation or low sugars… but most of the decisions  I make are applied across the board. So the difference you taste in the blends come from the terroir, the clones, and the way I put the blends together. Every clone, block, vineyard is vinified separately and kept separate until I work on the blend in June following harvest, so I have a wide pallet of aroma, flavor, oak, tannin levels, acidities to work with…to craft the best blend I think I can do. The 2013 Olson Vineyard wine has 7 lots, and each lot has new, 1&2 year and older oak all this out of only 8 acres of Pinot Noir… and I do the same to the other 9 vineyards I have Pinot Noir from.”

What would you say differentiates Torii Mor from other wines made in the Willamette Valley? Why do people drink your wines?

            “I definitely have a Burgundian style, the wines tend to have flavors other than fruit in them, they show complexity with earthy, meaty notes. They have elegance and balance from not pulling too much one way or the other, new oak is always understated, I want the grape and the terroir to show. I tend to harvest earlier than most, retaining a little more acidity, making more refreshing-lively wines. I enjoy Pinot Noir because they are more intellectual, they provoke emotions but you need to be patient and pay attention to them, if you are not completely focused you may miss the show… Our club members enjoy Torii Mor wines because they are different of other Oregon or West coast producers, they probably also enjoy the more delicate Syrahs and cabs out there.”

 As a wine maker, what are your greatest challenges at Torii Mor?

            “Getting fruit from high end-well managed vineyards. With the sale of many large vineyards by a few large wineries, I am worried that I will be priced out of some vineyards I am buying from today because of short supplies and high demand…”

 Anything else you care to share?

           ” I am often asked if I miss Burgundy and my response is no, I have enjoyed the Willamette Valley, the people, the food, the sights, its diversity… that I have no time to regret anything. And now I can even talk and see my family (my mother in particular) though Facetime, no need to sit 12 hours in a plane to do that…”

 One final question: “If wine making in the Willamette Valley has taught me anything,it’s taught me…”

           ” That life is good and I am enjoying it as much as I need.”

Indeed. For information about the new Woodinville tasting room currently under renovation at 14525 148th Ave NE, Woodinville, WA 98072, contact info@toriimorwinery.com.



Thank you:

Monique Bailey, Director of Sales & Marketing – Torii Mor Winery

Jacques Tardy, Winemaker – Torii Mor  Winery

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Terroirist Tuesday: Winemaker Showcase – Luisa Ponzi’s 20th Anniverary

Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirst Tuesday.

Today’s topic: Winemaker Showcase – Luisa Ponzi’s 20th Anniversary

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by L.M. Archer, FWS

If you follow binNotes, you know that yours truly favors Burgundy, Pinot, and wine makers.  As a woman, I also admit to an appreciation for women leaders in the industry – badasses all.

Today, binNotes takes time to acknowledge  one of Willamette Valley‘s formidable woman wine makers celebrating her 20th year as an industry leader – Luisa Ponzi, of Ponzi Wines.

Scion of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir pioneers Dick and Nancy Ponzi, Luisa doesn’t fall to far from the vine, as evidenced by her mother’s leadership role in the community, especially with the ¡Salud! Program and Annual Pinot Noir Auction, as well as the International Pinot Noir Celebration.

Oregon born, Burgundy educated,  Luisa’s wines combine a respect for the old world with an unflinching honesty of expression unique to her native Willamette Valley. Santé!

Additional links:

Oregon’s ¡Salud! Program: The Power of Passion, Pinot and People

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#AYIBpreview – A Year in Burgundy

Fresh from my trip to Burgundy, I just finished viewing a private screening of ‘A Year in Burgundy’.

Why should YOU see this film?

Because the 1/12 hour film skillfully navigates viewers through four unforgettable seasons –  one year –  of up-close and personal access to  Burgundian wine makers from Mâcon to Côte de Nuits, including  Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti fame.

Because you learn to appreciate the vagaries of draught, hail, rain, and the ‘grape police’ – perils all in Burgundian wine-growing.

Because you learn the practical side of  wine making, including pruning, harvest, triage, pigeage, battonage and élevage, as it applies to real people, real-time.

Because you learn about the instinctive, unteachable ‘art’ of wine making – the intuition required to allow each wine its maximum expression with minimal intervention. To let the wine have its say about its particular terroir, in its own voice.

(How telling that this film’s subtitles translate some wine-makers’ term for the ‘character’ of a wine as ‘terroir.’)

Because ‘A Year in Burgundy’ captures the heart and soul of the people of Burgundy – and their respect for the vines, terroir and traditions of this 2,000 year old wine-making region.

Because the film engages, rivets and intoxicates – just like the wines of Burgundy.

Go see this film. Then raise a glass to a great wine region, its wine, and its people. And leave a comment about your experience below. Santé!

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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What I’m Watching Now: You WIll be My Son (‘Tu Seras Mon Fils’)

Gilles Legrand’s film ‘You Will be My Son’ (‘Tu Seras Mon Fils’) explores the issue of succession at a prestigious wine estate in France.

Here’s the trailer… (don’t worry – it’s subtitled)..the film tackles the usual time-honored topics of fathers vs. sons, sex, and sports cars, set against a gorgeous backdrop of well-manicured vineyards. Can’t wait to watch the entire movie once it hits Seattle…Santé!

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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