@ChocolateSalon 2014

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog. 

Image: Courtesy Seattle Chocolate Salon.

Image: Courtesy Seattle Chocolate Salon.

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Hi: Just a quick note to update you – I’m  attending

International Chocolate Salon –  Seattle 2014


Please check back for my forthcoming piece on the terroir of chocolate…cheers!

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.

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.

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.

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Get Your Blanca y Rosado On!

Welcome to binNotes, a blog for those who consider wine an art, not just a beverage.

A Triple Play of Tastes to Get Your Blanca y Rosado On!

by L. M. Archer, FWS

So many Spanish wines, so little time. Did you know that Spain boasts most land planted to vines worldwide, over 600 native Spanish grape varietals, and 54 Denominacións de Origen (DO’s)?

Let’s keep it simple. Looking for rockstar whites or roses to go with your tapas,  small plates, or Sunday brunch? Try this triple play of binNotes’ favorite fresh tastes from some unexpected wine regions:

BIERZO DO  (Castille-Leon)

An intoxicating offering of whites, rosados, and upstart reds.

RUEDA DO  (Castille-Leon)

Reknown for refreshing dry whites from the native Verdejo grape, this tiny district sits down-river from Duero del Ribero DO. 

Still available are the more traditional fortified wines Palido Rueda (fino) and Dorado Rueda (rancio), and sparkling Rueda Espumoso (méthode chamenoise).


The Pyrenees peer down upon this destined-for-greatness Spanish wine region best known for its barrel-fermented Chardonnay.

Find these wines on WineSearcher:

  • 2011 Prada Godello – Bierzo DO
  • Monte Alina 2011 Verdejo Viura – Rueda DO
  • Tierra Buena 2011 Blanca – Rueda DO
  • 2011 Blanco Nieva – Rueda DO
  • 2011 Pirineos Rosado – Somontano DO
  • 2008 Estada Rosado - Somontano DO
  • 2009 Viñas Delvero Blanco - Somontano DO


Learn More on Spanish Wine:

7 Sip-Worthy Spanish Wine Regions

Spanish Sippers

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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#SFWE 2013 Update

Welcome to binNotes, a blog for those who consider wine an art, not just a beverage.

Kevin Finch, Executive Director - www.big-table.com

Kevin Finch, Executive Director – http://www.big-table.com/Image: L.M. Archer©

Enjoy these fresh images from binNotes attendance today at Seattle Food & Wine Experience 2013. Peha Promotions hits another one out of the park!

FYI,  #SFWE 2013 helps benefit Big Table, a non-profit organization geared towards assisting food service workers in crisis, transition, or need. Based in Spokane, Big Table expands to Seattle in 2013. Learn more here.

Foodie find of the event: www.cookieboxseattle.com - specialty shortbread bites fashioned for perfect pour pairings. Yum!

Shout outs to Oregon Wine and WBC 2012 alumni Cornerstone Cellars Oregon, R. Stuart & CoSeven of Hearts Winery, Stoller Family Estate & recent interviewee Youngberg Hills Winery. Cheers!

Copyrighted 2013. All images courtesy of the author. All Rights Reserved.

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Upcoming Wine Events: February 2013

Welcome to binNotes, the blog for ‘those who consider wine an art, not just a beverage.’

Thanks for your understanding during the month of January as binNotes veered ‘offline’ to work on some pending projects.

One of these projects involves Paso Robles Wine Country. Please look for my upcoming feature in Palate Press on February 14th.

Here’s a sneak preview of upcoming February 2013 Paso Robles wine events:

Image:Garagiste Festival

The Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure: SYV (Santa Ynez Valley)
Saturday, February 16th
All Events at Solvang Veterans’ Memorial Hall
1745 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463
SEMINAR – 11:ooam-Noon
Media & Trade Tasting Noon – 2 pm
Grand Tasting 2-5 pm
Learn more here.

Image: Paso Robles Rhone Rangers

2013 Paso Robles Rhone Rangers Experience
Broken Earth Winery
Sunday, February 17th, 2013
Seminar and Luncheon 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Grand Tasting and Silent Auction 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Learn more here.


Copyrighted 2013. All rights reserved.


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Garagiste SYV 2013

Video: The Wine Down/The Garagiste Festival

Greetings, binNotes readers! While doing research for an upcoming piece (I’ll post the link upon its publication) binNotes found this nifty video on The Garagiste Festival, held each November in Paso Robles. The Garagiste Festival features California Central Coast artisanal wineries producing 1,200 cases or less – including many women wine makers.

Due to the event’s  popularity, they’ve expanded to include The Garagiste Festival – Southern Exposure. So – if you missed the November event, you can still catch the Southern Exposure Event this February 17th in Santa Ynez Valley.

For more information: Garagiste SYV 2013. Cheers!

Spanish Sippers: Part 2

Spanish Sippers: Part 2

by L.M. Archer

In Spanish Sippers, Part 1, binNotes shared seven sip-worthy Spanish wine regions.

Today, binNotes cracks open the treasure trove of personal favorites from these regions, listed by region, Bodega, and vintage.

Many of these wines cost under $15US, except most of the Reserva, Gran Reserva , Superior, and Cuvee Especial. Most are found on www.wine-searcher.com.

Wines listed by region:
Priorat DOQ
Segura Viudas Viña Heredad 2010 Tinto

Penedés DO
Familiá Sedó Bar-Celó 2010 Tinto

La Mancha DO
Adolfo Selleción – Tinto
Finca Venta de Don Quijote – 2009 Tinto

Ribera del Duero DO
Obra – Joven 2010 Tinto
Pago de Carraovejas – Autor 2010 Tinto

Jerez DO
Terry Pedro Ximinez Sherry
Terry Fino Sherry
Terry Oloroso Sherry
Harvey’s Amontillado Sherry
V. Castillo de Macharnudo Superior

Rioja DOCa
Cepa Santiguas – Joven 2011
Landaluca – Rioja Alavesa – Joven 2011
Hacienda Lopez de Haro – Crianza 2008
Bai Gorri – Crianza 2007
R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia – Viña Bosconia Reserva 2003
Viña Olagosa – Gran Reserva 2001
Royal Carlton – Brut Nature, Cuveé Especial

Txokolina DO
Geñeta – Txokoli 2011

BONUS: You’ll note some super blanco (white) and rosado (rosé) sippers from three (3) Spanish wine regions we’ll be discussing next feature:

Three Spanish Wine Regions to get your Blanco y Rosado On!

  • Bierzo DO
  • Rueda DO
  • Somontado DO

In the meantime, if you do try any of these wines and wish to share YOUR impressions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

And if you’d like binNotes’ personal impressions on any of the wines here…leave a comment below. binNotes loves sharing tasting notes. ¡Salud!

Look for these upcoming binNotes features:

Three Spanish Wine Regions to get your Blanco y Rosado On!
The Fino Print on Sherry


Links to more binNotes Spanish Wine Features:

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Copyrighted 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved. All photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

Upcoming Wine Events

For Your Information:



January 14, 2013: Washington State Wine Awards 2013
3-7 PM – McCaw Hall at Seattle Center
Recognizing Washington State wine industry leaders for their professionalism and support.
Sponsored by Washington State Wine Association.


Walter Clore Honorarium: Doug Charles (Anacortes)
The Walter Clore Honorarium recognizes an individual who has demonstrated dedication to the advancement of the Washington wine industry. Charles owns Compass Wines store, and dedicates more than 75 percent of store inventory to Washington State wines. His label ded.reckoning is made by some of the top producers in the state.

Restaurant of the Year: Visconti’s of Wenatchee

Sommelier of the Year: Thomas Price of Metropolitan Grill (Seattle)

Best Event Featuring Washington Wine: Urbane (Seattle)

Independent Restaurant of the Year: Copperleaf Restaurant at the Cedarbrook Lodge (SeaTac)

Best Restaurant Group: Mackay Restaurant Group, El Gaucho restaurants (Western Washington)

Tourism Champion of the Year: Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tourism Concierge of the Year: Anne Peavey, of Seattle’s Convention and Bureau Visitor

Hotel of the Year: Hotel Vintage Park (Seattle)

Retailer of the Year: Metropolitan Market (Seattle, Kirkland)

Retailer Group of the Year: Yoke’s Fresh Markets (Eastern Washington)

Independent Retailer of the Year: Wine World and Spirits (Seattle)

Retail Steward of the Year: Doug King of Metropolitan Market

Distributor of the Year: Young’s Market Company (Western United States)

Distributor Salesperson of the Year: Kris Patten of Young’s Market Company (Seattle)

*Award information graciously provided by Washington State Wine Commission.


Seattle Food and Wine Experience 2013
12 noon – 5 pm
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
Presented by Snoqualmie Casino.
Benefitting The Giving Grapes Foundation and Big Table.
Purchase tickets here.

Savor Cannon Beach
Thursday March 7 – Sunday March 10, 2013
OR vs. WA wine throw-downs, wine tastings, wine walks, and more.
Purchase tickets here.


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7 Sip-Worthy Spanish Wine Regions

7  Sip-Worthy Spanish Wine Regions

by: L.M. Archer, FWS

image: L.M. Archer©

“Beber este vino es como hablar con Dios.”
(“Tasting this wine is like talking with God.”)
-Spanish saying

For the adventurous yet frugal traveller, Spain abounds with fresh, food-friendly wines, most for well under $10.

And Spain’s diverse meso-climates –  broad, limestone central Meseta, complex coastlines, and steep, granitic massifs –  translate into equally versatile food pairing options.

But first…Some Spanish Wine History

For centuries, Spanish wine making operated on the rustic side.  But in the late 1800′s, thanks to France’s phylloxera epidemic, many French wine makers moved south to Spain. Once the louse departed France, the French wine makers returned home, leaving behind their methods.

Some French practices remained, such as the use of oak barrels instead of traditional large stone troughs, known as lagars. Spaniards added a twist to the barrel making by importing cheaper American oak wood and fashioning, then toasting, barrels according to French methods.

Spanish Cava, first produced in Penedès in 1872,  also owes its heritage to French champagne making methods.

Like France, Spain enacted their first  wine laws in 1932. Similar to France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, Spain’s own Denominación de Origen (DO) laws outline and safeguard specific geographic regions. Today, Spain’s DO’s number fifty-four. Additionally, Rioja ranks as Spain’s highest, and only DOCa (Qualified Denomination of Origin) classified region.

Unlike the French, however, Spanish wine makers long emphasized process and maturation, rather than vineyard site.  However, many of Spain’s emerging modern wine makers now challenge this notion. And while two world wars, a civil war, and a repressive dictatorship hobbled Spain’s wine industry through the 1970′s, Spain has quickly moved ahead on the world stage, emerging as a worthy competitor in the 21st century.

Seven (7) sip-worthy Spanish wine regions offering both value and variety:


Penedès DO

  • Location: NE Spain, directly south of Barcelona
  • Claim to Fame: Birthplace of Spanish sparkling wine (cava) in 1870’s.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Cariñena, Garnacha, Macabeo, Monastrell, Parellada, Tempranillo, and Xarel-lo.
  • Fun Fact: Where Freixenet invented the rémouge-inducing gyroplate, or girasol (Spanish for sunflower) in 1972.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Perfect as an apéritif, with seafood or tapas.

Priorat DOQ/DOCa

  • Location:  NE Spain, inland SW from Barcelona
  • Claim to Fame: Small, low-yield estates producing high-quality, much-demanded reds.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Cariñena, Garnacha.
  • Fun Fact: The region’s name stems from a Medieval monastery Priorato de Scala Dei (‘Priory of the Stairway of God.’)
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Tapas, ham, lamb, chicken, delicately seasoned fare.

Image: L.M. Archer©

La Mancha DO 

  • Location: Spain’s central Meseta region.
  • Claim to Fame: Spain’s largest wine region, and it’s driest.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Airén (for brandy), Garnacha, Pardian, Tempranillo, Viura.
  • Fun Fact: Home to Man of La Mancha’s tilting windmills
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Tapas, heavier meats and informal meals.

Rioja DOCa

  • Location: Northern Spain – Ebro River Valley. Rioja contains three (3) regions:
    • Rioja Alavesa- Northernmost
    • Rioja Alta- Northwestern
    • Rioja Baja - Southeast
  • Claim to Fame: Spain’s first (1981), and most famous designated wine region. Rioja employs unique, stringent aging requirements, designated by four (4) categories, with corresponding color-coded labels on the back of each bottle:
  • Joven: Wines under 2 yrs. old.
  • Crianza: Wines 3+ yrs old; aged 6 mos. + in barrel
  • Reserva: Wines of best vintages 3+ yrs. old; aged 1 yr + in barrel.
  • Gran Reserva: Wines of exceptional vintages 5+ years old; aged 2+ yrs in oak barrels and 3 yrs in bottle. White Gran Reserva: Wines aged 4+ yrs, at least 1 yr. in barrel.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Graciano, Garnacha, Malvasía, Mazuelo (Cariñena), Tempranillo, Viura.
  • Fun Fact: Supposedly named after the Ebro River tributary, Rio Oja.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: The Little Black Dress of Spanish wines – dresses up or down for any occassion and  meal, depending upon the aging and vintage.

Ribera Del Duero DO

  • Location: Duero River Valley
  • Claim to Fame: Cult-following high-quality reds.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Garnacha, Tinto del País (Tempranillo)
  • Fun Fact: Spain’s second (1982) designated wine region.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Segovia’s famous succulent baby lamb.


Jerez DO

  • Location:  SW Spain in Cadiz near Jerez de la Fronterra.
  • Claim to Fame: Birthplace of Sherry, which deserves an entire future feature.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Moscatel Gordo Blanco (Muscat de’ Alexandrie), Palomino, Pedro Ximénez.
  • Fun Fact: The region is known for its prized, white limestone soil, albariza. Also for its Andalusian horses.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Truly eclectic – suitable as an apéritif, with afternoon tapas, as well as after dinner.

Bizkaiko Txakolina/Getariako Txakolina/Arabako Txakolina DO 

  • Location: Three (3) separate geographic appellations within Spain’s northern Basque region.
  • Claim to Fame: Slightly fizzy (pétillant), crisp, highly acid white wines.
  • Primary Grape Varietals: Ondarrabi Zuri (Corbu Blanc), Ondarrabi Zuri Zerratia (Petit Corbu), Izkiriota (Gros Manseng).
  • Fun Fact: The proper way to serve txakoli: Pour from a raised bottle to waist-high glass below in order to aerate the wine.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Designed to pair with tapas and seafood.

For travellers contemplating a trip to Spain, or simply a visit to the international wine section of your local market, these  Spanish palate pleasers provide an affordable gateway to its eclectic food and wine culture.  ¡Salud!

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Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved. All photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.