3 Mystery French Wines Explained

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by. L.M. Archer,  FWS | Bourgogne ML

“Mystery is the wine of this universe. It makes us dizzy and makes us feel happy! Man needs enigma so that he can get rid of the dullness of reality!” - Mehmet Murat ildan

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Happy 2015, dear readers!

Today binNotes takes on three mystery French wines: vin jaune, vin gris, and vin de soif.

So what’s the mystery? After all, they each start with ‘vin,’ the french term for wine. They also share a common heritage – vive le France! Perhaps the answer resides in what the French refer to as ‘that which makes something unique,’ or its sui generis.

Case in point: vin jaune. While vin jaune may sound like the protagonist in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, it means ‘yellow wine.’ The wine derives its jewel-like color from fermenting late harvest Savagnin grapes for six years and three months in barrel. During fermentation, the wine develops a film of yeast, known as the voile, which imparts a nutty flavor profile similar to sherry. However, unlike sherry, vin jaune is not fortified. Locals recommend pairing vin jaune with savory dishes, Comte cheese, and walnuts.

binNotes fave: Producer Chateau D’Arlay.  Available special-order in the Seattle area at McCarthy & Schiering.

The second, vin gris means ‘grey wine.’ While a bit Dickensian in tone, the taste leaves one begging for more. The term vin gris stems from the ‘grey’ coloration (actually a light pink) produced when making white wine from red grapes, typically pinot noir or gamay. Pressing involves minimal skin contact, with fermentation typically occurs in stainless steel tanks. Think of vin gris as a more sophisticated version of rosé, and serve accordingly as an apéritif, with brunch, fish, fowl, or as a lovely grace note to any cheese course.

binNotes fave:

Robert Sinskey Vineyards Vin Gris. Pale rose-petal robe, elegant, dry, discrete finish. Hard to find – sells out upon release.

Finally…vin de soif  is not an actual wine per se, but rather a French term for “light, easy drinking wine.” Choose your vin de soif – any versatile, affordable wine that transitions easily from casual social gathering to table – for drinkability, not aging potential.

binNotes fave: Jean Perrier et Fils Savoie Abymes Cuvee Gastronomie. Made from Savoie’s regional Jacquère grape, the wine features a gold-green robe, bright acidity, and fresh finish. Distributed widely in the US, including Metropolitan Markets.

Care to share a favorite vin jaune, vin gris, or vin de soif with the binNotes community? Leave your comments below…Santé!

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Copyrighted 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

Top 5 Obscure, Affordable Wines from Burgundy

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

 Top 5 Obscure, Affordable Wines from Burgundy

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The Way of the Cross - Domaine Romanée Conti, Burgundy.

The Way of the Cross – Domaine Romanée Conti, Burgundy.

Affordable Burgundy is NOT an oxymoron. In truth, Burgundy offers far more than just elite Premier and Grand Crus, boasting a broad spectrum of food-friendly wines for every palate and price point.

However, finding such wines typically means veering off the grand vins route into more obscure areas of this rarified region.

binNotes helps get you there with some favorite hidden gems – just in time for the holidays.

1. Chablis | St. Bris, Grand Auxerrois. Burgundy is not just a two-varietal wine region, nor is Chablis just about Chardonnay.

St. Bris, located in the western corner of Chablis knows as the Grand Auxerrois, is the only commune in Burgundy authorized to grow Sauvignon Blanc. The wines produced here possess a nervy verve, owing to chalky soils comprised of tiny sea creatures. binNotes’ favorite St. Bris producer: J-F Bersun, a father-son operation with cellars dating back centuries.

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2. Côte de Nuits: Looking for an economical entry-point into Burgundy’s most illustrious wine subregion? Why not try Cote de Nuits-Villages wines? These consistent-quality quaffers draw from five villages, including Fixin and Brochon in the north, plus Premeaux, Comblachien and Corgolion in the south.

3. Côte de Beune:  Love Chablis, but hate the price? Try St. Romain, a remote village with unique, chalky soils at high elevations producing chardonnays that rival Chablis in tensile brightness, with a touch of chiseled minerality.

4. Côte Chalonnaise: Looking for the perfect apéritif? For those with champagne taste on a micro-brew budget, try this sub-region’s specialty: crémant, a reasonably-priced sparkling wine made in the méthode traditionnelle from one or more approved varietals, including Sacy, Aligoté, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cèsar, and/or Gamay.

5. Macônnais: Passe-Tout-Grains. An inexpensive red wine in a subregion that grows 89% white wine? Yes! Passe-tout-grains, a red blend of one-third Pinot Noir with the balance in Gamay and/or a touch of Cèsar, proves the perfect pour for fence-straddlers caught between Burgundy and Beaujolais.

The Rock of Solutre in Burgundy's Maconnais subregion.

The Rock of Solutré | Macônnais | Burgundy.

Santé!

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Care to share? Please feel free to leave your comment below – and thanks for stopping by.

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Copyrighted 2014. All rights reserved.  

WITWIB? Wine Tasting!

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.

by. L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

WITWIB? Wine Tasting!

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Seattle - Winter 2014

Seattle – Winter 2014

This week, binNotes bundles up and trundles off into the bitterly cold Seattle winter scape to attend an exclusive release event for a rising star among women winemakers in the region.

You can check out my interview in the next installment of The Red Thread™ later this month.

Next week, be a hero of social, office, and family holiday gatherings with my Burgundy: Top Five Obscure, Accessible and Affordable Wines feature.

As always,  please feel free to leave a comment or question.

Thanks for stopping by – and remember: ’tis the season to drink – and drive – responsibly!

Santé!

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Copyrighted 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

Top 3 Takeaways: Burgundy’s HdB 2014

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by L.M. Archer, FWS

Attention Burgundy Lovers!

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Hospices-de-Beaune-auction-10004678

 

Top 3 Takeaways: 2014 Hospices de Beaune | Burgundy

The highlight for any Burgundy lover, 2014 marked the 154th annual Hospices de Beaune auction, celebrated every third Sunday in November.

Named for Beaune’s charitable hospital founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor to the Duke of Bourgogne Philip the Good, the auction features wines from Domaine de Hospices de Beaune, an assemblage of vineyards bequeathed by prestigious patrons over the centuries. Proceeds from the auction fund the charity.

binNotes’ top three (3) take-aways from the 154th Hospice de Beaune auction:

 

Hospices de Beaune 2014

1. Record-Breaking

This year, Domaine des Hospices de Beaune sales reached € 8,082,525, breaking earlier records of €6.3 million euros set in 2013. The 2014 figures reflect 417 barrels of red wine and 117 of white wine.
NOTE:  Burgundy accounts for just 0.4%  in wine sales globally. What do these astronomical 2014 auction sales mean for the future of one of the world’s smallest wine regions? Only time will tell.

Ludivine Griveau

2. History-Making

Domaine des Hospices de Beaune named Ludivine Griveau its first woman winemaker. Griveau, former principal winemaker at  Maison Corton­ André, takes the reigns from Roland Masse, Hospices de Beaune wine maker for 15 years, who retires this year.

NOTE:  Hats off to Hospices de Beaune for this history-making move.

Hubert de Montille

3. Leave-Taking

While Burgundy’s 154th Hospices de Beaune auction rolled on, Burgundy’s wine community mourned the loss of legendary vigneron Hubert de Montille, made famous in the movie Mondovino, who died on November 1st.

Hubert de Montille died in style – eating lunch with family and friends over a glass of 1999 Pommard Rugiens. Irrepressible, irascible, uncompromising, Hubert de Montille built on his family’s legacy through determination, pragmatism, and a quest for the sublime.

NOTE: In late 2013, binNotes attended a wine-tasting dinner featuring Peter Wasserman, who regaled us with stories of his family’s cherished friend, M. de Montille.

binNotes leaves you with Peter Wasserman’s tribute to the man – may we all live, and die, so well.

Hubert De Montille,
“He was my father’s best friend. Hubert was for lack of a better word one if the greatest men i have had the honor to know. From the earliest memories of being at table with “les grands” the adults, Hubert was the one who taught me how to appreciate good food an great wine. Where as one could butt heads with one parent or another one could not deny Hubert. It was unthinkable. He would have us taste everything we drank, describe it, and if the description was not correct we would have to go back at it until the master was satisfied. He made sure to let us know that it would be a long apprenticeship. He once told me that i would not know how to taste properly until i was at least forty, and Aubert De Villaine to add: and then you will realize you know nothing. Truth be told they were both correct. Hubert was a powerful influence in my life. I will remember the great man till the day I die. He was and will remain one of the great men of Burgundy.” -Peter Wasserman

Santé!

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Care to share? Leave your comment below – and thanks for stopping by.

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All rights reserved.  

Images courtesy: wine-searcher.com |Hospices de Beaune |  Decanter.com | Mondovino.com

Bordeaux Redux: Left Bank, Right Bank, WTBD?

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by. L.M. Archer, FWS

Today binNotes takes a mulligan on the topic of Golf and Bordeaux…two of life’s greatest challenges.

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 Back, by popular demand, here’s a previous binNotes’ post on the topic of golf and Bordeaux…

Left Bank, Right Bank, WTBD?

Understanding Bordeaux’s subregions is a lot like understanding golf – it’s all in the terrain, or terroir. Winegrowers, like skilled golfers, play it where it lays – in Bordeaux playing through some atypical water hazards, sand traps, and bunkers.

The wine region of Bordeaux is a lot like playing golf - full of water hazards.

Bordeaux subregions include the Left Bank, Right Bank, and Entre Deux Mers. So What’s the Big Difference?

Left Bank

You don’t want to snag a left hook on the Left Bank. This predominately flat expanse borders the Atlantic Ocean, and falls west of the Gironde Estuary and Garonne River. It also boasts Les Landes, Europe’s largest forest – 2.5M acres of pine trees to foil any bank shot.

In Left Bank’s Médoc and Pesssac Léognan areas, home to such prestigious Domaines as Chateaux Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild, and Haut-Brion, the warm sand and gravel soils favor Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot varietals- making Bordeaux the Biggest-Little-Cabernet Sauvignon-Growing-Wine Region in the world. Wines here hit the pin with firm structure, high tannin, pigment, acid, carrying hints of cassis, cedar, and graphite.

Thanks to the fog-inducing, botrytis-producing double-bogey action of the Ciron River cold air meeting Garonne River warm air in The Graves and Sauternais areas, white dessert wines find their sweet spot here, along with tournament-worthy dry whites composed primarily of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Les Landes

Right Bank

No shanking on the Right Bank!  This stretch of Côtes (slopes), worm-burning plateaus, and knock-down valleys of cold soils clay and limestone favor Merlot and Cabernet Franc, yielding soft, silky, high acid dry red wines with notes of dark plum, walnut and prune. Hole-in-one AOC’s in the Right Bank’s Libornais area include Pomerol and St.-Èmilion.

The vineyards of Bordeaux stretch endlessly throughout this prestigious wine region.

Entre Deux Mers

Fore!  Entre Deux Mers, meaning ‘between two seas,’ falls between the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers, and enjoys the highest altitudes, greatest terrain variations, and most wine varieties in the Bordeaux region. We’re talkin’ a little bit o’ sand and gravel, a little bit o’ clay and limestone, and a whole lotta water, producing above par dry red and whites. Same story, different side of the Garonne River regarding the fog-borne botrytis sweet white wines.

The rivers of Bordeaux contribute to the unique characteristics of its wine.

Unlike golf, in the winemaking world, there are no mulligans. Every shot, or harvest, counts. And in Bordeaux, it’s a game played by masters. Santé!

Care to share? Leave your comments below…and thanks for stopping by!

More of binNotes on Bordeaux:

 Bordeaux 2012 St.-Emilion Reclassification – WDIAM?

There Will Be Blood – and Wine

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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved. 

Images courtesy:  thetraveleditor.com; domainelesoreades.com; allfrenchservices.com; edmpanamorio.com.

Harvest Time…

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Like wine? Like compelling stories about wine? You’ve landed on the right page!

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…and the riesling is ready!

Some views from my sister’s organic vineyard on the banks of the Yakima River for your enjoyment.

That it…lots going on right now, so catch up with you soon….Cheers!

Care to share? Leave your comments below – and thanks for stopping by!

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Thank You:

Leeanna, Dan, Miss Lily, Brew & the Crew

Copyrighted 2014. All rights reserved. |  Images courtesy: Handprint Farms

American Wine Story

 Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

Like wine? Like compelling stories about wine? You’ve landed on the right page!

by L.M. Archer, FWS

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Looking for a movie about real heroes that also leaves you hankering for a great glass of wine?

Well, it’s here!

Image: Courtesy American Wine Story

This weekend, binNotes received an invite to the pre-screening  of American Wine Story  – available October 14th worldwide on iTunes and On Demand.

Powerful, poignant, and deeply personal, American Wine Story intertwines the legacy of Willamette Valley legend Jimi Brooks of Brooks Winery with other tales of a few far-flung American wine makers, chronicling leaps of faith from secure careers to follow dreams and pursue a common passion – wine.

Watch it here.

Care to share? Leave your comments below.

Cheers!

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Thank you:

Alisha Lumea – Polished Brands

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