Terroirist Tuesday: Côte Chalonnaise – Part 2

Welcome to Terroirist Tuesday! This week’s topic: Cote Chalonnaise, Part 2 of 3

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Welcome back, dear readers! Well, how did you do on last week’s Côte Chalonnaise Geek Quiz? Answers below:

1. The Cote Chalonnaise includes the following subregion(s): Côtes du Couchois

Nice try. Cote d’Or claims The Châtillonais , and Chablis the Grand Auxerrois.

Some other fun factoids about Côtes du Couchois:

  • It’s small – ~15 acres total. (~5.90 hectares.)
  • #1 Varietal: Pinot Noir.
  • It holds a Regional appellation: Bourgogne du Chouchois.

2. Côte Chalonnaise produces: More white than red wine.

  • White production = 55%
  • Red  production =  45%

Major white wine producing villages include:

  • Bouzeron: 100% Aligote.
  • Rully: Chardonnay accounts for 2/3 wine production  Also, the first Burgundian appelation to craft sparkling wine in the méthode traditionnelle, and the center of Burgundy’s Crémant de Bourgogne production.
  • Montagny: 100% Chardonnay.

3. Cote Chalonnaise soils: Most resemble Côte de Beaune to its north.

Complex question, just like Burgundy’s soils!

Here’s the story: A big, bad gap, called the Blanzy Rift, separates the Côte de Beaune from the Côte Chalonniase. Despite the rift,  the soils of northern Côte de Chalonnaise most resemble Côte de Beaune’s Jurassic limestone and marls.

Moving south, the soils age. Southern Côte Chalonnaise’s Montagny mix it up with Liassic and Triassic limestone, sand, clay and quartz.

4. Burgundy’s only village appellation for aligoté: Bouzeron.

Hold on to your hats for this one! Bouzeron is Burgundy’s only 100% Aligoté appellation!

A vigorous white varietal with bigger berries than that of Chardonnay,  Aligoté produces a lean, clean wine of medium weight.

Bouzeron’s most famous producer of aligoté’?  None other A. et P. de Villain of Cote de Nuits’ esteemed DRC.

Well, that concludes this week’s Terroirist Tuesday…hope you had fun and  learned something!

Join binNotes for the next Terroirist TuesdayCôte Chalonnaise, Part 3: Meet the Winemaker, featuring Agnès Dewé de Launay of Domaine du Meix Foulot, Mercurey. Santé!


binNotes travels closer to home this week for a peek inside the 2014  Washington State Wine Awards. Stay tuned!

Thank you: BIVB

Test your wine skills – take a binNotes Geek Quiz here:

Côte Chalonnais: Geek Quiz

Chablis: Geek Quiz

Maconnais: Geek Quiz

Burgundy Geek Quiz

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Terroirist Tuesday: Côte Chalonnaise – Geek Quiz

Welcome to Terroirist Tuesday! This week’s topic: Cote Chalonnaise, Part 1 of 3

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Today we test your wine skills on Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise – home to a ‘mixed case’ of wines and wine styles. Let’s see how you do – answers posted next week:

Have fun, and see you back here next week with the answers. Santé!

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

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#MWWC6: Mystery – Terroir

Yes, folks…it's time for another bloody Monthly Wine Writing Challenge.

It’s that time…another bloody Monthly Wine Writing Challenge…

#MWWC6 Topic: Mystery.

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Thanks, thedrunkencyclist…Great idea…Vote for binNotes here: MWWC 6.

As noted in a previous binNotes post, Burgundy beckons as the ultimate ’riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma.”

For me, the mystery of Burgundy lies in the concept of terroir, a concept difficult to describe outside the borders of Burgundy.

To Burgundians, terroir speaks to the tangible, such as soil, aspect, location, water, and weather.  It also speaks to the intangible, to its soul, not just its soil. I’ll leave the ‘quantifiable components’ of terroir –  details about  limestone and eastern exposures and dry farming and stone clos and combes and fault lines, to others more eloquent on the topic.

I prefer to speak to the ‘unquantifiable component’ of terroir, its ‘soul’ -  and perhaps Burgundy’s deepest mystery.

 The Spanish have a term for soul: duende. ‘Tener duende’ ( ‘having duende’ ) roughly translates into ‘having soul,’ i.e., a heightened state of emotion  and authenticity, usually in the arts, often connected with flamenco. Duende is similar to finding  your ‘authentic swing’, as in The Legend of Bagger Vance by Stephen Pressfield. Or ‘being in the zone,’ like a professional athlete lost in the moment of playing, not winning.

Terroir,  like duende,  speaks to the ‘authenticity’ of Burgundy wine, not just it’s ‘typicity.’ It speaks to its character, not just its ‘characteristics.’ It speaks to wine as art, and not just beverage.

During my latest trip to Burgundy in October, respected wine guide Jean-Pierre Renard - a man who forgets by breakfast what most people struggle to learn in a lifetime about Burgundy – provided a tour through the birthplace of terroir.

On the road with Jean-Pierre, wine makers from St. Bris to Mercurey to the Mâconais uttered the same phrase over and over:

“Wine making doesn’t rely on a recipe – there’s no ‘magic formula’ here – each vintage is unique, and we must adjust accordingly, responding to what the wine needs.”

Mysterious how each wine maker understands this ineffable commitment to full expression of the wine’s authentic voice. And how each wine maker described getting lost in the ‘flow’ of each harvest, riffing like a jazz musician.

This mystery serves as the bedrock of Burgundian wine, just as limestone serves the bedrock of its soil. It’s why I keep coming back to Burgundy.  Burgundian wines unravel on the palate as elusive mysteries of restraint and elegance, understatement and refinement. Like any mystery, they require diligence, patience, and attention to detail. Burgundian wines are about subtext, not what’s spoken. They are about ‘the space between,’ not what’s obvious.

Some things in life offer more questions than answers. The mystery of Burgundy wine may be one of them.  Santé, and pass the DRC.

VOTE for binNotes here: #MWWC6

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Terroirist Tuesday: Maconnais – Meet the Winemakers

Welcome to Terroirist Tuesday | Maconnais – Part 3: Meet the Winemakers

by: L.M. Archer, FWS

Move south from the velvet corridor of the Côte d’Or, beyond the shadow of the Côte Chalonaisse, and you find yourself flush in what some call Burgundy’s ‘most affordable’ wine region, the Mâconnais.

From Vire-Clessé in the north, to St. Véran and the more well-known Pouilly-Fuissé in the south, the Mâconnais offers Chardonnay drinkers an array of off-the-beaten-track, super-fresh, minimal-to-no-oak options.

Today binNotes introduces you to two small production domaines worth watching in the region –  one located in  the village of Fuissé, and the other located in a commune within St. Véran, Davayé.

First, a clarification: the French do not have a term for ‘wine-maker.’ The French are very humble about wine making – they see themselves as ‘midwives’ in the birthing of each harvest’s wine. They grow the grapes, then they vinify the grapes –  with minimal intervention, allowing the wines to ‘make’ themselves.

Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils, Fuissé

Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils
Rue Adrien Arcelin; 71 90 Fuissé
info@domaine-thibert.com  |   www.domaine-thibert.com |  US Distributor: Scott Paul Wines

A study in how to do things right, Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils owes their success to a solid foundation built by seven generations of wine makers. Domain Thibert began in 1967 with father Andrée René; in the 1990′s, son Cristophe and daughter Sandrine joined as co-managers. Some readers may recognize them from favorable reviews and ratings in prominent wine guides such as Allen Meadow’s Bourghound and the Wine Advocate. But the family remains unaffected by all the attention, dedicated to creating quality wines at affordable prices.

On the day of binNotes visit, mother and grandson were in the bottling room, while brother Cristophe rode his bike from one side of the domain to the other checking on various stages of fermentation, and father Andrée René manned the back hoe.

Dynamo co-manager and marketing maven Sadrine conducted our tasting after driving all the way from a wine expo in Brussels the previous day. Her charismatic charm showcased the wines beautifully. See more about binNotes’ lovely catered wine-tasting meal at the domaine here.

Since 2005, D. Thibert Pere et Fils has expanded their holdings and improved their infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art barrel and bottling facility, and ultra-chic tasting room for parties of up to 60 people.

The domaine employs selection massale, i.e., propagation of vines through cuttings of a  vineyard’s best vines,  and practices lutte raisonnee, ‘the reasoned struggle’ of farming that espouses the use of harmful chemicals.

Some of Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils holdings are among those currently under application for Premier Cru in Fuissé; these wines duly noted below.  

Tasting Notes:

(2010 was  very balanced, but 2009 proved a more difficult year with regard to weather and yields.)

1. Beaujolais-Villages Rose 2011 – 12% .100% Gamay old vines – Direct press; dry, watermelon, cantelope. Only 300 bottles. We were lucky enough to taste one of them.

2. Mâcon-Fuissé 2012 – regional wine. 12%. Organic – planted 2007-08. S/steel fermented, 10% neutral oak. Clean, lemon, nice structure.

3. St.-Véran, 2010-2011 – Champ Rond, Village: Lenyes. Rich, Round. Oak 80%, 20% stainless steel. + 9 mos. no filteration. White flowers, citrus.

4. St.-Véran,  2009-2010- Bois de Fée, Village: Chesales. Elegant, pure, 100% oak, more structure.

5. Pouilly-Vinzelles 2010 Les Longeays – floral, 2 hc. elegant, Future Premier Cru**. 5% new oak, SW exposure, 55 year-old vines.

6. Pouilly-Fuissé 2011-2012 Vieilles Vignes (80 year-old vines.) Selection of plots – 8% new oak ,1 yr in barrel.

7. Pouilly-Fuissé 2010 Vignes Blanches (White Stones) **Possible Premier Cru. Rents since 1995 – Cristophe Fard * needs age.

8. Pouilly-Fuissé 2009 Vignes de la Côte. Selection of vines. Minerality, white floral nose.

9) Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé 2011 – Macon 80% chardonnay, 20% gamay

Domaine de la Croix Senaillet, Davayé

Domaine de la Croix Senaillet - 71960 Davayé, St. Véran

Located in the town of Davayé, in the St. Véran appellation of southern Burgundy, Domaine de la Croux Senaillet was founded by Maurice Martin in 1969. Brothers Richard and Stéphane have run the vineyard since the early 19990′s.

A prominent stone cross stands vigil in the vineyards of Domaine de la Croix Senaillet, from which the domaine takes its name. Records show that the cross dates to 1866, and replaces one destroyed in 1793 during the French Revolution. The original cross was donated centuries ago by a former mayor named Benoit Senaillet, blessed to protect villagers and passers-by.

On the day binNotes visited, brother Richard showed us around the pristine facility, replete with concrete amphole and oversized wooden fermentation barrel, then out to the fields for a first-hand look at one of the region’s few certified bio-dynamic vineyards. Meanwhile,  brother Stéphane tooled around in the vineyard on what looked to be a  harvester, though it was late October.

Bio-dynamic wine growing requires a huge investment in time and money. Because no chemicals or pesticides are employed, vines must be sprayed with natural organic materials, then re-applied after each rain,  since the organic compounds don’t ‘stick’ to the plants or soil. However, D. de la Croix Senaillet feels the quality, flavor and freshness of the wines increase, as does the long-term health of the vineyards, so remain committed to the practice.

Interestingly, unlike the United States, the bio-dynamic wines offered during our tasting  did not reflect a significant price point increase.

Tasting Notes:

The full spectrum of these wines poured out refreshing and vibrant on the palate.

1. Macon-Davayé 2012: 5 plots. Yellow apple notes, citrus nose, acid +.

2. Saint Véran 2010: Fleur blanche aroma, clean, citrus notes, acid +, long finish. Stainless steel fermented.

3. St. Véran – Les Rochat 2010 –  Citrus, primarily lemon, acid +.

4. St. Véran les Buis 2012 –  Herbacious notes, acid +.

5. St Véran – En Pommards 2010- White flower notes.

This concludes binNotes series on the Maconnais. Part 1 & 2 links here:  Part 2  |   Part 1

Have a question or comment? Please feel free to leave it below…and remember to join me for the next Terroirist Tuesday, when binNotes mixes things up a bit with a ‘mystery’ topic Cheers!

Thanks to:

French Wine Society 
BIVB - Brigit Houdeline, Director  &  Jean-Pierre Renard, Wine Guide.
Domaine Pere et Fils – Sandrine et famille
Domaine de la Croix Senellait – Richard et Stéphane Martin

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

Bonne année et bonne santé!

binNotes is down and out with the holiday bronchial crud making the rounds…hope to be back up and running in the New Year…See you next week for Terroirist Tuesday: Maconnias: Meet the Winemakers.

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Joyeux Noël

Joyeux Noël and best wishes in 2014. Santé!

Joyeux Noël!

Holiday Greetings & Best Wishes in 2014 to you and yours from binNotes!

binNotes is offline through the holidays….see you after the New Year.

…in the meantime, catch binNotes Favorite Wines on Pinterest.

…catch binNotes News Feed on Facebook.

…catch binNotes shout outs on  Twitter.

And…be sure to join binNotes next Terroirist Tuesday for my ongoing  Burgundy Series:  Mâconnais, Part 3 – Meet the Winemakers.

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Winter Solstice Manifesto

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs

On this Winter Solstice 2013, the official beginning of winter and symbol of rebirth – may all you artisans in the wonderful world of wine continue to let your passions light the way in 2014.


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Terroirist Tuesday: The Mâconnais, Part 2

Welcome to Terroirist Tuesday. Today’s Topic: The Mâconnais, Part 2.
By: L.M. Archer, FWS

Greetings, geniuses! So much for trick questions – you met me at every turn along Route Mâconnais. Well played!

Answers to last week’s quiz on Burgundy’s Mâconnais wine region as follows:

1. Chardonnay is: All of the above. The name of a town in Mâcon, the name of the white grape varietal used to make Mâcon wine, and (according to folklore) the name given to ‘the grapes that grown near the birds’ flitting about Mâcon’s abundant thistles.

2. The Soils of the Mâconnais most resemble those of: Côte d’Or

This means bedrock of Jurassic origin, with layers of middle and upper Jurassic soils. Translation: Lots of delicious, complex limestone layers, translating into the trademark, flinty flavors of Pouilly-Fuissé,  crisp, quaffable Viré-Clessé and smooth, slightly more complex Saint-Véran.

Unlike the Cote d’Or, the fault blocks of the Mâconnais tilt east, not west.The Mâconnais’ gentle chain of hills also contain pockets of clay, where crops and livestock live. The hills increase in altitude moving south, culminating in the Roche de Solutré and Vergisson.

3. The Maconnais has how many Grand Crus? None.

Well done, dear readers! You nailed this. Mâconnais has neither Grand Crus nor Premier Crus, though the winemakers of Pouilly-Fuissé hope to change that –  some in the region have applied for Premier Cru status, so stay tuned.

The Mâconnais contain Village and Regional appellations.

Approved Mâconnais Village appellations, all 100% chardonnay wines, include:

1. Pouilly-Fuissé  (Actually three (3) sections: Pouilly-Fuissé, Pouilly-Loché, and Pouilly-Vinzelles)

2. Saint-Véran (Actually two geographic ‘islands’ divided north and south by Pouilly-Fuisse.)

3. Viré-Clessé (Northern-most appellation, near the town of Mâcon.)

Approved Regional  Mâconnais appelations include both red and white wines.

Regional Mâconnais White Wine Appelations, 100% Chardonnay,  include:

1. Mâcon

2. Mâcon-Villages

3. Mâcon + Geographic Designation (e.g., Mâcon-Prissé, Mâcon-Lugny.)

Regional Maconnais Red Wine Appellations include:

1. Mâcon (Mostly Gamay.)

2. Mâcon + Geographic Designation (Mostly Gamay.)

3. Bourgogne (Mostly Pinot Noir or  Gamay-Pinot Noir cuvée Bourgogne Pas Tout Grains.)

Not a lot of red wine going on in the Mâconnais – keep in mind that white wine accounts for 89% of its wine production!

4. In the Mâconnais, the Rock of Solutré: Is a limestone escarpement located in Pouilly-Fuissé.      

While archeologists have discovered thousands of ancient horse bones at the base of the Rock of Solutré, a bioherm  by definition contains organic marine fossils. (A note on the dead horses: The old theory held that thousands of years ago the locals drove herds of wild horses off the cliffs for meat. The most recent theory summises that the horse remains mark the location of an ancient Roman camp.)

The Maconnais series continues next week, when binNotes shares recent domaine visit tasting notes and observations from Burgundy’s ‘other white wine‘ region. Cheers!

Next week’s Terroirist Tuesday topic: Mâconnais, Part 3: Meet the Winemakers.

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Terroir-ist Tuesday: La Chablisienne Co-op Confidential

Welcome to binNotes’ Terroir-ist Tuesday series on Burgundy.

Chablis, Part 3 of 3: La Chablisienne Co-Op Confidential

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Part I:  Fun Facts about Chablis

  • Chablis is the second largest wine-growing region in Burgundy, behind the Mâconnais.
  • Chablis average production: ~8,000-10,000 vines @hectare (1 hectare = 2.471 acres)
  • Chablis total acreage: ~16, 675 acres
  • Pruning method: Guyot.
  • Soils: Primarily Kimmeridgian soil, with Portlandian predominant in lower growing regions.

Chablis’s Kimmeridgian soils elicit a specific flavor profile the French refer to as  “goût de pierre à fusil“, as in ‘taste of gunflint.’ Wine wags choose the term ‘minerality‘ to describe these wines  of frankness, precision and tense character.

Part II:  Co-0p Confidential

If you’re a wine grower in Chablis, chances are you may belong to La Chablisienne wine co-op. Chablis’ La Chablisienne wine co-op was founded in 1923. Today it boasts over 250 growers.  Membership has its privileges, as well as its regulations.

What sort of regulations? Well, they include:

  • Membership is voluntary.
  • Members must stay a minimum of 5 years.
  • Members must turn over 100% of production.
  • Members must maintain quality.
  • The co-op must receive all juice; however, the co-op may not pay producers of poor quality juice/must.*

In addition:

  • Producers DO receive bottles back for personal use.
  • The start price at time of receipt of juice/must may vary in two years after fermentation and bottling.
  • The co-op pays overhead and administrative costs first, then the producers.

*Note: In the case of inferior quality production, the co-op will work with wine grower to improve quality, but may reject repeat offenders who do not improve within 2-3 yrs.

During binNotes visit, La Chablisienne advised that the 2013 harvest produced 30%  lower yields than normal, due to rain in June, which effected flowering.

So what’s the drill for a typical La Chablisienne co-op wine grower/member?

Basically, each harvest goes something like this:

  • Members (producers)  grow the grapes.
  • The co-op wine maker also visits vineyards to ensure ‘maturity’ control. (The co-op typically has over -2600 maturity controls.)
  • Producers determine when to pick, with input from the co-op wine maker.
  • Producers harvest and  press the grapes.
  • The co-op uses one of  twenty (20) pump trucks comes to pick up must.
  • The tank trucks deliver the must to La Chablisienne, where it’s graded:  A,B,C – depending upon quality of taste.
  • The must is tanked for débourbage (settling).
  • The must is then fermented in traditional method, utilizing temperature controls.
  • Malolactic fermentation typically does not occur, in order to maintain  Chablis’ trademark crispness, unless acid levels merit it.
  • Aging for Petit Chablis and Chablis:  Typically 5 months on lees in tank.
  • Aging for Premier and Grand Cru: Typically 18 months on lees in oak.
  • The co-op waits until after harvest to bottle, in order to allow wines to mature on lees for freshness and balance.

Bottom line: Producers sign over their grapes, as well as the headaches and costs associated with fermenting, bottling, and selling the wine. But they never sign over their relationship with Mother Nature, nor their dedication to maintaining Chablis’ traditions and heritage.

Part III: Le Caveau

No visit to La Chablisienne would be complete without a tasting at Le Caveau, its tasting facility. Here’s a list of what binNotes and crew tasted, with a few cursory tasting notes scribbled in the margins:

1. 2011 Petit Chablis: Valley – 2011 was a particularly ‘fresh’ vintage. Indeed.

2. 2011 Old Vine Chablis: 30+ yrs.

3. 2011 Che de Lechet: Premier Cru – Citrus

4. 2011 Montmain Premier Cru –  Mineral

5. 2011 V-??? (undecipherable Premier Cru…no tasting notes…oh, well…)

6. 2001 Mont-de-Milleu  Granad Cru – Literally means ‘In the middle’ between Champagne and Burgundy.  A little more open other Grand Crus, therefore more saline.

7. 2010 Les Prueses: Rounder, fuller, butter, brioche flavors.

8. 2010 Les Grenouilles : Tres elegant – complex, lingering.  ***(binNotes’ fave.)

Want to learn more about La Chablisienne Co-op?  Link to some cool La Chablisienne videos here.

Thanks to:

BIVB Chablis
La Chablisienne


For more on Chablis by binNotes:

Chablis: Part 1 of 3

Chablis: Part 2 of 3 

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Terroirist Tuesday: Chablis – Part 1: Geek Quiz

by L.M. Archer, FWS

Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday. It’s time to strap on your thinking caps, sharpen your pencils and “Get Your Geek On” as binNotes tests your skills on all things Chablis…

Tune in next week as binNotes tackles what makes Chablis  unique – and shares recent first-hand photos and field notes. Santé!

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