Willamette Valley Wine Pinot in the City

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by L.M. Archer, FWS

Like wine? Like witty, compelling stories about wine? You’ve landed on the right page.

Laugh a little – learn a lot!

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Forget ‘Sex in the City’…give this girl Pinot in the City any day! Manolo Blahniks? Je préfère sixty-six premium pinot wine makers from Oregon’s Willamette Valley plying their pours at Seattle’s hip Urban Feast, please!

Pinot in the City  blends Willamette Valley Wine pioneers and hard-to-find upstarts, new releases and old standbys, Pinot and Pinot Gris, plus some tasty Chardonnay and Riesling…and more than a few under-the-radar finds.

In other words, premium wine lovers, this is your kinda show…

From a personal standpoint, Pinot in the City allowed me the opportunity to re-connect with wine makers like Byron Dooley of Seven of Hearts and Luminous Hills, whose wines, and wife Dana’s chocolates,  I’ve long admired.

binNotes Fave: Leave a comment below if you want info on my fave small-production, off-the-tasting-notes wines from this wine maker…Hint: You can’t go wrong with any of Byron’s wines. He has a broad and deft palette.

I also got to meet some wine makers whose wines I knew, but whom I hadn’t met personally - like the graceful, gutsy Cathy Redman of Redman Vineyard and Winery. Cathy founded Redman Vineyard and Winery in 2004 with her beloved husband Bill, only to witness his unexpected passing in 2009 from cancer. The Willamette Valley community, in true form, joined together to assist her in continuing Bill’s legacy today.

binNotes Fave: Redman Vineyard and Winery 2010 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir stands out, with its balanced, distinct cranberry/rhubarb/red fruit goodness.

Another treat included meeting dynamo Maria Stuart of R. Stuart & Co. Winery. I first experienced Maria’s wines, and one-of-a-kind graphics, at the 2012 Wine Blogger’s Conference in Portland.

binNotes Fave: R. Stuart & Co. 2011 Willamette Valley Vignette Pinot Noir proves light on the palate – an easy food-pairing wine.

Of course, no self-respecting left-hander can pass up a pour by Left Coast Cellars family owners Suzanne Larson and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Christina Aragon. Try their trademark Left Coast Cellars 2012 Cali’s Cuvée Pinot Noir - it’s an easily accessible mid-range wine.

Pinot in the City also introduced me to some producers with whom I wasn’t familiar.

Iota Cellars wines exceeded all expectations set by a recent Snooth article I’d read prior to attending Pinot in the City. Owner Lynne Pelos and owner/winemaker Johanna Sandberg combine old world sensibilities with new world techniques to produce wines of exceptional balance and poise.

The Iota Cellars 2013 Phyllis Rosé of Pinot Noir from Eola-Amity Hills incorporates 1/2  saignée and 1/2 direct press methods aged 5 mos. in neutral oak to produce a lovely, salmon-hued wine. It’s the closest thing to a true Provençal rosé I’ve experienced this side of the Mediterranean – worth drinking any time of the year.

Under off-the-hook, look for Harper Voit‘s wines, including Harper Voit Cellars 2013 Willamette Valley Surlie Pinot Blanc, a taut, crisp rendition aged in 100% neutral oak 7 months on the lees.

H-Vs Andrew Bandy-Smith (a familiar face from IPNC 2014) treated guests to an etherial Antiquum Farms Pinot Noir not listed on the tasting notes. A wine of power, finesse, and structure indeed.

Grochau Cellars owner/winemaker John Grochau shared his singularly stellar, dry expression of Pinot Blanc, the Grochau Cellars 2013 Pinot Blanc, produced 6 mos. surlie in 70% neutral oak and 30% stainless steel. He also shared his small production ‘off-the-tasting-list’ GC 2013 Melon de Bourgogne - a discrete stunner produced in 100% neutral oak…such a wonderful, rare treat.

Under ‘you-had-me-at-Pinot,’ try Grochau Cellars 2011 Eola-Amity Hills Bjornson Vineyard Pinot Noir. This wine captures a lovely floral component reminiscent of some wines of Burgundy.

Great to meet and greet other wine makers I’ve profiled, like Wayne Bailey of Youngberg Hill and Jacques Tardy of Torii Mor Wines, familiar face Ron Lachini of Lachini Vineyards, as well as some unfamiliar faces like Jessica Mozeico-Blair of Et Fille Wines, André Hueston Mack of Mouton Noir Wines, and Alfredo Apolloni and Laura Gordon of Apolloni Vineyards.

I regret those wine makers I missed at Pinot in the City, but the event whet my appetite for more of the Willamette Valley – only a five-hour drive away from Seattle.

NOTE: For those of you lucky enough to attend the 2015 Pinot in the City wine event next year in NYC, allow at least two hours! binNotes barely made it through 1/2 the tables in an hour. Cheers!


Many thanks to Quinton Jay at Panther Creek for forwarding me  tasting notes on the Panther Creek wines binNotes sampled at Pinot in the City which inadvertently didn’t make the original posting!
Panther Creek ‘Winemaker’s Cuvee’ Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley 2011
Panther Creek ‘Shea Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2009
binNotes Fave : 90% neutral oak – Garnet hue, light body, balanced black fruit, spice, pear. 
Panther Creek ‘Reserve’ Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley 2009
Panther Creek Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2013
(not tasted but distributed in WA through Grape Expectations.)

Want to learn more about Willamette Valley Wines or Pinot in the City? www.willamettewines.com.



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Thank you:

Emily Petterson, EKP Media

Willamette Valley Wines

Copyrighted 2014. All rights reserved. 

TGLF: The History of Provence Wine

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by L.M. Archer, FWS

TGLF:  The History of Provence Wine 

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 Image: Courtesy F.Millo/CIVP

binNotes goes international…

Check out my feature on  The History of Provence Wine in The Good Life France.


For those of you who missed it, here’s my previous TGLF feature on The Wines of Burgundy.


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Copyrighted 2014. All Rights Reserved. Image: Courtesy F.Millo/CIVP

WITIB? Pinot in the City!

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Get ready for Pinot in the City!

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Pinot in the City arrives in Seattle September 11, 2014.

Pinot in the City | Seattle | September 11th 2014

Hey, Pinot Lovers!!

Back by Popular Demand:

Pinot in the City Road Show Hits Seattle!

Save yourself the hassle of a 5 hour drive to the Willamette Valley…

When: September 11, 2014. Trade event: 12-4 PM, Consumer event: 6-9 PM

Where: Sodo Park, 3200 1st Ave S. Seattle, WA 98134


Pinot in the City brings together a blend of  Willamette Valley Wine pioneers and hard-to-find upstarts, new releases and old standbys, Pinot and Pinot Gris, plus some tasty Chardonnay and Riesling.

Come meet and greet the wine makers & taste their wines!

Tickets: $65 purchase online  here.


Don’t delay purchasing your tickets!

This event has sold out in all venues nationwide - from San Francisco to Chicago to New York City…

Need more info? www.willamettewines.com.



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. |  Image courtesy: Willamette Wines

Restaurant Intervention: epulo, Edmonds, WA.

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By L. M. Archer, FWS

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“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.” ~ Henry David Thoreau



e-pu-lo:  sumptuous food, banquet or feast.

I finally know what the sin of gluttony feels like. Or, rather – what it tastes like.

It tastes like e-pu-lo bistro’s Manila clams with Parsley, ​Chervil, Chives, Garlic & Pinot Gris, plus a side of toasted bread to sop up the sauce. Oh, and a side order of sautéed green beans with garlic. lemon and chili to add to the flavor-fest. So simple. So delicious. So sumptuous. A true banquet of the senses  - and stomach.

Meat eaters – my  partner-in-crime swears by the Braised Beef Short Rib with Garlic​ Mashed Potato, Arugula & Demi Glace. Not one succulent morsel left on his plate, either.

Wines by the glass or bottle include some reasonably priced Old World selections, as well as familiar top-shelf New world pours with prices to match.

Warm, attentive staff, soft lighting and cozy bistro seating help set the stage for ongoing crime of self-indulgence. And, like any self-respecting bistro, this venue accommodates families, foodies and francophiles alike. Proprietary parking on the side ensures a seamless, hassle-free dining experience. Sinning never tasted so good.


Epulo Bistro on Urbanspoon

Link here for more  binNotes Urbanspoon Restaurant  Interventions.


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

Dog Days of Summer…

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

“The dog days are over
The dog days are done…”

-Florence & The Machine

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Lucca, Wine Mascot and power behind the throne at binNotes, holds court in a hand-crafted wine barrel dog house from Sonoma.

binNotes is on hiatus during these final dog days of summer…see you back here next week.


A special shout-out to the folks in Napa and Sonoma, who suffered a major earthquake earlier this week.

Our thoughts are with you as you deal with the aftershock.



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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved. | Photo courtesy the author.

WITWIB? Red Mountain!

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

“A jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness…”
  -The Rubyat,  XII – Omar Khayyam

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How binNotes celebrated Washington State Wine Month this year:

binNotes travelled east recently to bottle at Portrait Cellars |  E & E Shaw Vineyards, with a few stops along the way to some Red Mountain AVA wineries.

Enjoy the scenery…now go drink some Washington State wine!



Thoughts? Leave your comments below.

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

Thank you:

Leeanna & Dan – Handprint Farms

Ed & Eve Shaw – Portrait Cellars | E & E Shaw Vineyards

My Divine IPNC

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS

My Divine IPNC  2014

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Blame it on the buzz-killing six (6) hour drive back from the International Pinot Noir Celebration 2014.

Stuck in gridlock somewhere between Portland and Seattle, I felt a bit like Dante in the Divine Comedy, smouldering in my own little private I-5 Inferno, with no Purgatory to soften the journey from the Willamette Valley to Seattle – and a Paradise of Pinot firmly fixed in my rear view window.

During the down time, I wondered about similarities between Dante’s Paradise and the IPNC’s own Paradise for Pinot lovers.

Dante’s Paradise spans the cosmos, his souls inhabiting ten spheres – sun, moon, planets, stars, the realm of angels, and the seat of God. The International Pinot Noir Celebration, on the other hand, ascends to a whole new realm featuring Pinot as its Empyrean, and sidereal splendors that include:

  • 800+ attendees
  • 70+ wineries
  • 50+ chefs
  • 40+ Sommeliers
  • 250+ wines
  • 2 shuttle services

In truth, I felt a bit like a cosmic cork sabered from a bottle of bubbly as I bounced from tasting to seminar to winery to dinner over the course of this three (3) day event. Here’s binNotes’ brief recap:


  • Friday Breakfast on the Patio. (Missed this in the drive down from Seattle to McMinnville.)

binNotes personal favorite:

2008 Joseph Drouhin Gevery-Chambertin ‘Champeaux’ 1er Cru. There’s a reason Napoleon deemed Gevrey-Chambertin his quaff of choice. A ruby-robed  delight of elegance, grace and restraint.

Close second:

2012 Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Reserve. Flamenco artists refer to ‘Cante Jondo – ‘deep song.’  This is some ‘cante jondo’ in a glass – the soul of  the Willamette Valley  - cedar, peat, and dusky red fruit.

Additional: 2011 Talley Vineyards - Rincon Vineyard, 2012 Westrey Wine Co. ‘Cuvée 20, 2011 Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair Marsannay ‘Les Saint Jacques’, 2013 Scribe Winery Estate, Sonoma Central Valley.

  • Friday Luncheon: Table host: Wooing Tree of New Zealand. Great outdoor fete, and the first encounter with the deep bench of all-star sommeliers serving at IPNC. Personally, a favorite part of IPNC - watching the somms strut their stuff with the endless series of notable pours offered throughout – in white tie, no less.
  • University of Pinot CourseLinfield College McMinville opened its hallowed halls to seminar attendees. My seminar: Distilling Terroir, with Juniper Ridge perfumer Hall Newbegin. Instead of hallowed halls, we wandered Linfield’s lush grounds sniffing trees and bushes and grass, learning to ‘see’ with our  noses. Definitely an envelope-pusher. Personal highlight: Talking terroir and biodynamics with the guys at Mt. Beautiful of New Zealand.
  • Add-on Optional Seminars. The Aroma of Color with Jordi Ballester of University of Burgundy, DijonIn a blind tasting, do white, red, and rosé wines smell – and taste – differently? And do they smell differently for enthusiasts vs. professional tasters? Attendees smelled, tasted, and surmised. Surprising results. Answers: Professionals tend to respond in more uniform, consistent patterns, whereas non-professionals tend towards less consistency and less accuracy. 
  • Afternoon  wine writer book signings and tandem Rosé tasting on the lawn. So tired. Fell asleep on the patio waiting for my other half to bring me a change of clothes for the Grand Dames Dinner.
  • Grand Dames Dinner and Silent Auction. Table host: Piero Incisa della Rochetta of Argentina’s Bodega Chacra, and progeny of the famed family who owns the iconic Italian winery SassicaiaA night under the stars, both literally and figuratively. My personal highlight:  Martine Saunier sighting – gracious force behind the film A Year in Burgundy.  


  • Saturday breakfast on the patio. Sun, fresh-baked goods, blackberries, cured meats, and savories. Love the white linens, china, and tableware featured at each meal. Such a nice touch.
  • Vineyard Tour, Blind Tasting and Luncheon. Host vineyard: Ayres Vineyard of Ribbon Ridge AVA. Bus tour guide: Alex Sokol Blosser of Sokol Blosser Winery in Dayton, OR. Alex Sokol Blosser missed his calling as a stand-up comic. Great roll through the WV with importers, distributors, wine makers, and wine devotees. Once on site, a wine tasting throw-down blind tasting with five wine makers: Ayres, Sokol Blosser, J Vineyards of California, Domaine Charles Audoin of Marsannay, and Brandborg Vineyard & Winery of Elkton, OR. Some of the wine makers were able to ID their wines, others not. No worries – time for lunch, more wine, and stunning views of Chehalem and Ribbon Ridge.
  • Afternoon White Wine and Live Music tasting on the lawn. So much wine, so little time. I passed, and went back to the Allison Inn to chill before the Salmon Bake.
  • Saturday night Salmon Bake. Table host: Carol & Steve Girard of Benton-Lane Winery in Monroe, OR. The Girards rocked the Salmon Bake, sharing their luscious wines and dessert-table strategies. A treat sharing the table with Brian Richardson, formerly of IPNC, and his adorable fiancée. I did not linger to enjoy IPNC’s infamous ‘vault’ of secret stash.


  • Sunday Farewell Brunch on the lawnAll good things must come to an end. Shared a table with the gals of Oregon Wine Board before heading back into the Inferno of I-5.
  • Sunday Passport to Pinot - skipped 2014. binNotes’ 2013 recap lives here.
Dante's Divine Comedy. | Image: wikipedia.com

Dante’s Divine Comedy. | Image: wikipedia.com


For wine geeks with a literary bent, here’s binNotes homage to Dante’s ten spheres of Paradise, à la IPNC:

 I: The Moon  - The Inconstant

It’s the first sphere of Paradise, but may feel more like Purgatory to the event staff toiling over sound systems, shuttles, and tableware.

 II: Mercury – The Ambitious

Where importers and distributors talk shop with attending wine makers.

 III: Venus – The Lovers

Where Pinot devotees rub elbows with wine makers at seminars, luncheons, dinners, and on bus rides to and from participating wineries.

 IV: The Sun – The Wise

Where seminar leaders educate attendees on topics such as The Doors of Perception, Distilling Terroir, and The Aroma of Color.

 V: Mars – The Warriors of Faith

Where Pinot’s faithful Sommeliers fight the good fight on behalf of this most noble of grapes.

 VI: Jupiter – The Just Rulers

Where wine regions hold dominion: Argentina, California, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Oregon, Tasmania, and Washington.

VII: Saturn – The Contemplatives

Where wine writers, media and PR  posit their thoughts on Pinot, most divine of varietals.

 VIII: The Fixed Stars (Faith, Hope, Love)

Where ever-fixed  stars Linfield College, IPNC, and ¡Salud! anchor IPNC in the heaven, ensuring ongoing funding for  ¡Salud!  - Oregon’s one-of-a-kind migrant wine workers’ health care program.

 IX: The Primum Mobile (The Angels)

Where wine growers and wine producers work their heavenly magic on earth to create the celestial elixir of Pinot.

 X: The Emperean (Heaven)

Empyrean literally translated means ‘in fire.’

Center of IPNC’s Divine Paradise. Home to Pinot.

Heaven, indeed.


Thoughts? Leave your comments below. Cheers!

Note to self:

Take a page from my earlier EcoTravel piece next time I travel to the WV.


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

Note to Readers:

binNotes paid for all tickets and lodging to IPNC. 

Thank you for logistical assistance:

Ray & Jennifer - Capitello Wines

Amy Wasselman, IPNC Executive Director