Time out from the ‘hood…

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Taking a break…..enjoy some cloudscapes from the ‘hood…see y’all back here next week…

Cheers!

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. All images courtesy the author.

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

www.domaine-parent-bourgogne.com

Santé!

⚜⚜⚜

Thank you:

Anne Parent – Domaine Parent

 Alix de Gramont – Bourgognes Parent

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Ode to Walla Walla: Of Syrah, Savage Beauty, and Stones

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

Ode to Walla Walla: Of Syrah, Savage beauty, and Stones.

By L.M. Archer, FWS

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I learned a few things last weekend attending Celebrate Walla Walla Syrah 2014.

As a pinot-swilling, Burgundy-burnished, less-is-more type of wine lover, I had my doubts about problem child syrah.

Syrah...a varietal the Wine & Spirits critic and guest speaker Patrick Comiskey so brilliantly calls “the right amount of wrong” and “a bit sauvage”,  introduced itself with personality and wit and balls-out brashness. And it was good.

Toto, we’re not in Kansas, or Burgundy, or the Willamette Valley anymore.

We’re in Walla Walla. And I’m here to tell you that Walla Walla syrah has stones.

I kept thinking about that ‘problem child’ moniker. Syrah…the Rhone varietal introduced in the United States by California’s Rhone Rangers, then over-produced with homogeneous monotony by its various ‘adopted’ regions.  The problem child varietal mishandled, mismanaged, misunderstood – like so many adoptees.

Until Walla Walla.

Walla Walla beckoned like anyone who understands a wild thing. Carefully. Patiently. Without expectation.

Walla Walla unhobbled this varietal, giving it free reign upon the lilting hills and valleys, lulling it with its breezes and soft summer sunlight.

And it was good.

The wild child did what any wild child does. It balked, taking, but not giving.

And then, as time unfolded, it understood. It was safe here. Safe to dance, sing, grow upon the vast landscape.

And so…it started giving back to the hands that tend it.

The hands that tend it, but never tame it.

For syrah cannot be tamed.

No, syrah will always be Walla Walla’s wild child.

The one most likely to arrive early and leave late on that 3-day weekend to Vegas… maybe with a  pet tiger.

The houseguest with the most colorful stories to tell, mainly raunchy.

The wine you choose to crack open with your friends, not to impress your boss.

The  wine with backbone and bravado, castanet-clicking its flamenco-fueled frenzy across your palette.

The wine belting out a sensory aria that blows your mind, breaks your heart and busts your gut.

The wine sure to tattoo a one-two punch across your taste buds.

Syrah. A little bit ‘sauvage’ indeed. At least in Walla Walla.

Walla Walla syrah has stones. It’s rocked my world.

Cheers.

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Thanks:

Celebrate Walla Walla Syrah cast, crew, and winemakers

Heather Bradshaw – Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. All images courtesy the author.

Love in the Time of Chocolate

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

The Terroir of Chocolate – Part 3

by L.M. Archer, FWS

 

Hey wine and chocolate lovers! You’ve just bitten into that 85% dark chocolate truffle, paired with a lovely little pinot noir from the Willamette Valley…the chocolate caressing the inside of your mouth, the wine whispering gently…your body and soul wrapped in conjugal bliss around the world’s most toothsome twosome…

…ever wonder who conjures up all that artisanal chocolate magic?  Recently, binNotes caught up with Amano Chocolates  founder and Head Chocolatier Art Pollard to talk about love, passion, and the terroir of chocolate.  Amano  means ‘they love’ and ‘by hand‘ in Italian – a name evocative of award-winning  Amano Chocolates‘  love and passion for the careful crafting of artisan chocolate through traditional methods, exacting standards, and exotic sourcing.

Tell readers a little bit about the ‘story’ of Amano Chocolates.

“We launched in 2007 with the single most goal of creating the world’s finest quality chocolate. This is of course, a tall order and somewhat subjective but, I’ve always believed if you are going to do something, do it all the way. It was a long journey prior to launching of course… It took two years to build our factory with lots of experiments to ensure that the finished chocolate wasn’t just good but was exceptional.

Somehow, National Public Radio managed to get samples of our early test batches. Much to our surprise, in February of 2007 they announced that we were one of the best chocolates in the US. We hadn’t launched yet but we looked at each other and said:”I guess we just launched.” We turned on the website and that began an amazing journey.

Since launching, we have won over 150 first place awards through competitions in Europe and the United States. What is more amazing to me however is how what we have done has touched people’s lives both here and in our farmers lives. The joy that I see in their eyes when I take the finished chocolate back to the farmers is truly priceless. As to whether we make the world’s finest quality chocolate, I’ll leave that up to you. It is after all a highly personal question. The world’s finest chocolate truly is the one we love the most.”

As a chocolatier, do you find that the terroir of chocolate ­,like wine ,­ informs its flavor profiles?

Most definitely, the terroir of the cocoa has a huge affect on the finished flavor of the chocolate. At least if the chocolate maker wants it to. Many of the interesting flavors are actually removed by the larger chocolate companies. There are many reasons for this. One of which is consistency. The large chocolate companies want their chocolate to taste the same day in and day out. Hershey’s still tastes like it did 50 years ago or when it first started. (It was made with spoiled milk then and is made with milk that is artificially spoiled now.) I understand and somewhat appreciate why they make these decisions. One of which is they don’t want to be confronted that the chocolate they made last week, last month or last year was better than what they are making today.

In their quest for consistency however, they miss out on the wonderful world of flavor. Cocoa is after all an organic ingredient. It comes from plants, it is made from the soil in which it is grown and is subject to weather and other environmental effects.

To make the chocolate consistent, the beans are roasted way past the point where the interesting and wonderful flavors are. These flavors are literally “burned out” leaving a mass of roasty flavors instead that come primarily from the burned cellulose that has undergone a maillard reaction. The aromatic flavor compounds go literally up the chimney.

However, with good fine quality chocolate such as Amano, these flavors are preserved. Roasting is a process where the natural flavors of the bean are actually enhanced and brought out. Just as spices are enhanced by a light gentle roasting, so too are cocoa beans. Too much however just means the flavors are lost rather than enhanced. “

 If terroir indeed informs the flavor profile(s) of chocolate, how does that translate into the chocolate grown and used in Amano Chocolates?

Each chocolate that we make is completely and totally unique in terms of flavor when compared with the other chocolates we make. We have one made from literally the world’s most highly sought after cocoa, for example, (Chuao) that has a huge number of layers of flavor that keep coming at you in intoxicating waves. Another, our Dos Rios is more straight forward but, tastes like bergamot orange and lavender. (These aren’t flavors we are adding, they are a natural component of the beans.) Both are incredibly delicious but for very different reasons. Another chocolate we have tastes like grapefruit but has this incredibly leatheriness and earthiness to it. Each and every time you taste a chocolate made by Amano, it has its own story not only in terms of where the cocoa comes from but also in terms of flavor.

Where does Amano source its chocolate?

We source just about all of our cocoa directly from the farmers who grow the cocoa. This means we often have really incredible relationships with the farmers and their families. The farmers with whom we work live in countries such as : Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Venezuela. Needless to say, I have quite a few frequent flyer miles at this point.”

You mentioned three (3) basic types of chocolate. What are they, and where are they grown?

“Classically, cocoa is divided up into three groups: Criollo, Trinitario, and Forestero. Criollo has meant cocoa that has a genetic heritage through Venezuela. Forestero comes from the upper Amazon basin. Trinitario is a variety that is actually a hybrid between the two that originates (as the name implies) from Trinidad. These varieties have been transplanted all over the world. However, most of the cocoa out of the Caribbean is Trinitario and most everything out of Africa is Forestero as it is what is preferred by the large chocolate companies due to Forestero’s high disease resistance and productivity. (Flavor is far down on the list of priorities for the industrial chocolate companies. It is far more important for them.)

These terms are often confusing and are used differently by different people for different reasons. Modern genetic research has shown eight distinct genetic groups and it is my belief that many more will be found as genetic research continues. Each variety has its own unique flavor characteristics and each genetic group has many sub­groups. Cocoa has never really been bred like other agricultural crops so there are few distinct native varieties like we have with apples. (Though there are clonal groups.) All in all, the mix of genetics and flavors are really exciting. There is the very real possibility that neighboring valleys will produce very different cocoa and finished chocolate. Even more amazing is you can have a similar effect with neighboring farms.

Can you take readers through the basic process in making an Amano Chocolate bar? 

“Wow, that is huge… The amount of work that goes into making chocolate is far more than anyone ever expects. But, here is the ‘short’ run­down:

  •  The trees are highly disease susceptible. Thus the farmers have to put a lot more work into their cocoa trees than other crops. So, as you can imagine, it all starts with a farmer who cares for their trees.
  • Each pod must be hand cut from the tree. (Not picked but hand cut so as to not hurt the tree.) Each pod equates to approximately one chocolate bar.
  • The pods are split open by a machette one by one and the beans removed and then pulled from the central stock they grow on.
  • For 3-­7 days the beans are fermented in giant wooden boxes. Each day they must be taken out and turned over and put back in. That’s a lot of work.
  • The cocoa is dried. This takes 5-­7 days. The cocoa is put out in the morning and brought back in in the evening. Some farmers turn it over every hour.
  • The cocoa is then put into bags and shipped to us.
  • We hand sort the cocoa to remove any sticks, stones, and other items that aren’t supposed to be there.
  • The beans are hand roasted in our antique cocoa roaster.
  • The beans are dumped onto a cooling table that cools the beans and stops the roasting process.
  • The shells are removed in our winnowing machine. (All built of mahogany and maple.)
  • The bits of bean (now called nibs) are stone ground into a paste.
  • Sugar is added.
  • The cocoa (now like bread dough) is fed through a refiner that makes this smooth. This is all done with buckets and by hand so it is a lot of work.
  • The chocolate is put in the conche. We have a complicated conching process. The difference between not enough conching and too much is about 30 seconds.
  • The chocolate is unloaded and it is filtered and run past magnets to ensure it is safe.
  • The chocolate goes into our cool room to harden into 50 lb.blocks.
  • When it is time to mold, the chocolate is remelted.
  • The chocolate is tempered so it will crystalize properly. This is a heating and cooling process and can be quite tricky.
  • The chocolate is then fed into a molding machine that injects the chocolate into molds.
  • The chocolate cools and hardens.
  • All the bars are hand wrapped and put into boxes.

Yep, it is a huge amount of work.”

Anything else you care to share about Amano Chocolates with readers?

“I love what I do. Each of us is completely absorbed and passionate about what we do.”

Finally, here’s a question I ask all the winemakers I interview, and it seems appropriate to ask you as a chocolatier: “If making chocolate has taught me anything, it’s taught me…?”  

“Each and every step is the most important step.”

Check out Art’s cool Amano Chocolate blog here – cheers!

The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 1

The Terroir of Chocolate, Part 2 

***

Thank you:

Art Pollard, CEO  / Aaron Davidson- Amano Chocolate 

 

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. 

Slouching towards terroir…

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS

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binNotes slouches yet again towards terroir…this week among my sister’s vines…

…in the shadow of nearby Red Mountain…

…en route to Celebrate Walla Walla Syrah…all illuminated by summer solstice…more later…in the meantime, enjoy the views…cheers!

 

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved.

WITWIB? CWWS 2014

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS

WITWIB? Celebrate Walla Walla Syrah 2014

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binNotes travels east to Celebrate Walla Walla Syrah, with stops in Red Mountain and my sister’s vineland along the way…stay tuned for much winery and social media mayhem…cheers!

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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:

A: AMTRACK

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.

B: BOLTBUS

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.

ecoSHUTTLE
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.

Cheers!

***

Thank you:

BoltBus

EcoShuttle

***

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. A