Napa + Sonoma + Burgundy + Beyond

Today broke like any other. Alarm, bird song, coffee. A rush to dress and gas and nudge onto Hwy 17 towards San Francisco for a day of tastings and bubbles  studies.

No time to check social media. Until the first ping.

“Are you ok?” Ping¬† “?” Ping. “Fire in Sonoma.”¬†Ping. “Fire in Napa.” “Are you ok?!”

Ping. Ping. Ping.¬† Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram brings a bombardment of incomprehensible images¬† –¬† images of trees, homes, wineries in flames. Wineries I recognize. Homes of people I know. Trees that once shaded memorable drives through remarkable Wine Country.

Napa and Sonoma burning.

And then reality intrudes. My reality. My wine writer life. Car parked, roster checked, spit cup and wine glass presented, and wine tasting begins.

Wines presented by importer+distributor Veritas Wine at High Treason for Becky Wasserman & Co., a bespoke Burgundian wine agency representing an elite portfolio of artisan domaines. Expect more on this bedrock of Burgundian wine culture in future posts.

But not today. Today thoughts and prayers go out to Napa + Sonoma.

You can find out more about how to help by following the Napa Register.

Learn more about Becky Wasserman & Co. here.

Learn more about Becky Wasserman in this interview on I’ll Drink to That here.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved


My latest in Wines and Vines Magazine: Technical Spotlight on Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca: Willamette Valley winery builds a state-of-the-art, quake-resistant production facility  

by L.M. Archer 

Lingua Franca Winery in the Willamette Valley produces premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

When the 2014 South Napa earthquake subsided, wine consultant and master sommelier Larry Stone surveilled the wreckage of his Napa home and thought, ‚ÄúWherever I work next, it‚Äôs gonna be earthquake-proof.‚ÄĚ Read more here.¬†Copyright ¬© Wines & Vines

I want to hear from you! Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Psstt‚ĶAnd please do follow me on Instagram, Facebook and other social media ‚Äď you can find the icons above on the left-hand side of this site.


Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved



Burgundy’s Overlooked ‘Other’ White Wine

Burgundy’s Overlooked ‘Other’ White Wine

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

My instructor at BIVB once described Chardonnay as the drama-free, fair-haired child that gets along with everyone. But every family has at least one problem child passed over in lieu of a more popular one.

In Burgundy, it’s Aligot√©, Burgundy’s ‘other’ white varietal, a more angular version of sibling Chardonnay. A thin-skinned, rather tart white grape grown in Burgundy, styles vary from unctuous to austere.

While Chardonnay dazzles wine lovers from Chablis to the M√Ęconnais,¬†Aligot√© resides primarily in the C√īte Chalonnaise village of Bouzeron.¬†Notably, the village grows the superior Aligot√© Dor√© varietal, rather than the lesser clone, Aligot√© Vert.

This does not mean that other areas of Burgundy do not cultivate Aligot√©. Pockets of producers include Alice + Olivier de Moor of St. Bris in Chablis, Domaine Naudin-Ferrand of Magny-les-Villers, which straddles Hautes C√ītes de Beaune and Hautes C√ītes de Nuits, and Domaine Ponsot, Burgundy’s only Premier Cru¬†Aligot√© from Monts Luisants in Morey-Saint-Denis. I’ve also discovered some fuller, more luxurious Aligot√©s produced in Meursault.

One must admire Aligot√©’s perseverance. Despite relegation to blending, segregation to Burgundy’s Bouzeron, and integration into the Kir Royale, Aligot√© endures, and may yet prevail. With global warming on the rise, interest in this early-ripening grape increases across the wine region. (S)he who laughs last, may indeed laugh best.

A. & P. de Villaine counts at the top of Bouzeron’s Aligot√© producers, today’s featured wine. If the name sounds familiar, the ‘A’ in A. & P. de Villaine stands for Aubert de Villaine of fabled Domaine de la Roman√©e-Conti in Cote d’Or; his nephew¬†Pierre de Benoist directs the domaine.

Tasting Notes

Wine: Domaine A. et P. de Villaine Bouzeron Aligoté

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price: $32

Spec  (Note: Thanks to Soif Wine and Bar in Santa Cruz for stocking this wine.)

Robe:  Clear, pale gold hue.

Nez:    Discrete notes of mustard blossom, lemon, fleurs blanches.

Bouche:  Tart lemon zest, bright minerality; dry, light-bodied, vivacious.

I’ve chosen to pair this wine with a traditional recipe for goug√®res (cheese puff pastries) featured in the authentic French cookbook “Recipes from the Ch√Ęteaux of Burgundy” by Gilles and Bleuzen du Pontavice, with photos by Claude Herl√©dan.

“Aunt Th√©r√®se’s gourg√®res,” pg. 61

“50 cl. milk, 5 g. salt, 125 g. butter.¬†Bring these ingredients to the boil. Remove from the heat and add 250 g. of flour. Stir¬†for a minute over the heat to dry out the pastry.¬†Remove from the heat and add eight (8) eggs, two by two, followed by¬†125 g of diced gruyere.¬†Put into a greased ring-shaped baking tin or in small heaps onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven.”

The recipe omits oven temperature ( Try 450 F.)

Good luck improvising with your own cheese variations – part of the charm of using these old recipes.


 June 17th 2017

concludes my guest hosting of 

The French #Winophiles 

A Virtual Tour of Burgundy, Part 2: C√īte Chalonnaise, M√Ęconnais & Beaujolais.

¬†Here’s the Tour Guide for Part 2:

Jeff Burrows of FoodWineClick serves up “Salmon and Morels with the Domaine Wines of Louis Max.

Jill Barth of L’Occasion shares “Historic Vineyards of M√Ęcon.”

Michelle Williams of Rockin Red Blog regales us with: A Journey Through Burgundy Part 2, Exploring M√Ęconnais with #Winophiles.

Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley of Wine Predator takes on: “Bourgogne with Beef Bourguignon from an Instant Pot.”

Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest steers us through “Navigating Southern Burgundy: M√Ęconnaise and Beaujolais.

Jane¬†Niemeyer of Always Ravenous¬†explores Discovering Rully Chardonnay + Bouzeron Aligot√© in Burgundy’s C√īte Chalonnaise.”

Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm’s Table schools us with “Cooking to the Wine: Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Chablis with Clam and Burrata Pizza.”

Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm dips her toe in “Provence meets Burgundy.

Lauren Walsh of The Swirling Dervish swirls up Mercurey Rising: Pinot Noir from Burgundy’s C√īte Chalonnaise.”

Link to the Virtual Tour of Burgundy, Part 1


I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below. Cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved

A Tour of Burgundy, Part 1 | Not to Late to Join Us May 20th!

Have a Thirst for Burgundy?

It’s not too late to join The French Winophiles¬†for a Virtual Tour of Burgundy¬†on May 20th 2017 at 10 a CST!

For those unfamiliar with the program, The #Winophiles are a group of wine writers and bloggers that love French wine. Each month we focus on an area or aspect of French wine, with topics ranging from regions, routes, food, travel, and history, to profiles and tastings…we expand widely and seek to learn.

Burgundy is the focus of the May and June 2017 #Winophile program.

Please join us¬†May 20th as we taste through Chablis and the fabled Cote d’Or¬†from 10-11 a CST via Twitter¬†using hashtag:¬†#Winophile.

Here’s our May 20th Burgundy Tour Guide for your perusal:

Jeff Burrows of foodwineclick¬†lures us to “Northern Burgundy Served Up With Rabbit.”

Jill Barth of L’Occasion¬†schools us on “Thomas Jefferson in Burgundy.”

Michelle Williams of Rockin Red Blog¬†tipples¬†towards “A Journey Through Burgundy, Part 1 Chablis and C√īte d‚ÄôOr.”

Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest¬†hosts “Saint-Aubin in Burgundy Invites You To Dine.”

Martin Redmond of Enofylz Wine Blog¬† throws down “Back to Back White Burgundy: Chablis vs. C√īte” d’Or.”

Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley of Art Predator serves up ¬†“Chablis and the Sea.”

L.M. Archer of binnotes¬†mulls over “Burgundy: Wines of Intention.”

…and Jane¬†Niemeyer of Always Ravenous¬†ladles up “White Burgundy paired with Corn Soup.”




See you on Twitter this Saturday morning, May 20th  at 10:00am central (time conversion here). Your invitation is the hashtag #Winophiles. 

And don’t forget….#ChardonnayDay is May 25th. Here’s a link to the press release.



Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | red Thread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.

An Invitation to Tour Burgundy, Virtually! | 20 mai 2017

Take a Tour of Burgundy with the French Winophiles!

Join us for this month’s French Winophiles!

What: A Tour of¬†Burgundy¬†Part 1¬†| Chablis +¬†C√īte d’Or¬†

When: May 20, 2017 | 10 am CST


Map of Burgundy ©BIVB.

Burgundy Wine Region Quick Facts:

  • Stretches 140 miles from Chablis to the M√Ęconnais.
  • South¬†3.5 hours by car or 1.5 hrs. by train¬†from Paris.
  • Enjoys a semi-continental climate.
  • Comprises¬†6% French wine production.
  • Produces 62% white wines, ¬†28% red wines, and 10% sparkling (*BIVB – 2017.)
  • Contains 20% of all French Appellations (AOC’s):
    • 33 Grand Cru¬†AOC’s
    • 635 Premier Cru¬†AOC’s
    • 44¬†Village¬†AOC’s
    • 23 ¬†AOC’s
  • Primary varietals: ¬†Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
  • Subregions include:
    • Chablis/Grand Auxerrois/Ch√Ętillonnais
    • C√īte d’Or (C√īte de Nuits and C√īte de Beaune)
    • C√īte Chalonnaise
    • The M√Ęconnais
    • Beaujolais – Administratively only (Technically, Beaujolais belongs to the Rh√īne department.)

Burgundy: Some history….

  • Benedictine and Cistercian monks oversaw wine production in Burgundy from 909 AD until 1789, introducing¬†stone walls, or¬†clos, around¬†vineyards, codifying named sites, or climats,¬†and cultivating¬†Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as the region’s primary varietals.
  • Prior to the Revolution, France’s royal Dukes of Burgundy ruled the region from¬†1363-1477, outlawing Gamay.
  • Burgundy established the first Hospices de Beaune wine auction at the H√ītel¬†Dieu in 1851.

Chablis Quick Facts:

  • Chablis also includes the Grand Auxerrois and Ch√Ętillonnais sub-regions.
  • Chablis boasts distinctive chalky limestone clays composed of dead oyster fossils. The biomass originated in a tropical sea that once covered the region, long before glaciers formed, tectonic plates shifted and crusts uplifted.
  • Fun Fact: These dead¬†baby oysters settled into layers, eventually morphing into¬†clays with a chalky consistency. With each plate shift and uplift, the chalky sea bed layers dispersed, forming a ‚Äėring‚Äô which today includes the cliffs of Dover, Chablis, Champagne‚Äôs Aube region, and the Upper Loire‚Äôs Sancerre region.
  • Chardonnay accounts for 100% of Chablis’ wine production, with the following exceptions:
    • The village of St. Bris may¬†cultivate Sauvignon Blanc.
    • The village of Irancy may produce C√©sar-Pinot¬†Noir blends.
    • The village of V√©zelay may grow Melon de Bourgogne.
  • Chablis‚Äô AOC Hierarchy includes:
    • Chablis Grand Cru
    • Chablis Premier Cru
    • Chablis
    • Petit Chablis
  • Chablis has (1)¬†Grand Cru¬†with (7) distinctive climats:
    • Blanchot
    • Bougros
    • Les Clos
    • Grenouilles
    • Preuses
    • ¬†Valmur
    • Vaud√©sir

C√īte d’Or Quick Facts:

  • Also know as “La Route des Grands Crus” the ‘golden slopes’ of the C√īte d‚ÄôOr¬†encompass Burgundy‚Äôs¬†celebrated¬†C√īte de Nuits and C√īte de Beaune.
  • C√īte de Nuits produces¬†89% ¬†red¬†wine, and contains 24 Grand Cru, all red but one (Musigny).
  • C√īte de Beaune produces 57% red, 43% white wines, and includes 8 Grand Crus,¬†all white but one (Corton).

If you are a wine writer or blogger, this is your invitation to join in! Posts on travel, food, wine and lifestyle in Burgundy are all welcome.

Contact me to tell me you‚Äôre in: Include blog url, Twitter handle, and any other social media details. If you know your blog post title, include that…but you can also send that a bit closer to the event. We‚Äôd just like to get a sense of who‚Äôs participating and give some shout-outs and links as we go. Contact me¬†below.

Send your post title to me by Wednesday, May 17th to be included in the preview post. I will prepare a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title may or may not include ‚Äú#Winophiles.‚ÄĚ

Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-8:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, May 20th. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up that morning.

Include links to the other #Winophiles participants in your post, and a description of what the event is about. I‚Äôll provide the HTML code that you can easily put in your initial post ‚ÄĒ which will link to people‚Äôs general blog url.

Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts’ to comment and share. We have a Facebook group (French Winophiles) for participating bloggers to connect and share, too. If you need an invitation please let me know.

NOTE: Sponsored posts are OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.

For an overview of the region: 

Link here to my article about Burgundy Wine Region in The Good Life France.

And don’t forget!

Join us for Burgundy | Part 2: June 17, 2017

C√īte Chalonnaise¬†+ M√Ęconnais (+ Beaujolais)


Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | red Thread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.

Wine Writer Confidential | ‚ĄĖ 2

Dear Readers:

L.M.Archer ©2017 Alisha+Brook Photographers.

Welcome to my latest installment of Wine Writer Confidential, where I spill, thrill and chill you with all the news unfit to print about my world of wine writing.

It’s no secret that a virus laid me low last week, rendering me useless, and unable to taste. However,¬†the down time allowed me to ponder a few things…

On Wine, Words, Burgundy, and Battling Shyness in an Extroverted Industry

Recently, a wine blogger whom I respect sent me this:

“…I just finished an ARC of Cork Dork and the writer is talking about Burgundy and there is a line in there are a few sentences that made me think of you.¬†

“I’ve never watched someone open what was supposed to be an outstanding bottle of Burgundy without a look of mild terror on her face. The wines oxidize, they get reductive, they are fickle in mediocre vintages, and they go through awkward phases in their youth. The people who adore these wines tend to have a masochistic streak, and when you meet a Burgundy fanatic, it’s hard not to puzzle over what trauma – were they hugged enough as kids? – might have compelled them to attempt to master this region.”

Not to say this is you, but it made me think of you, a Burgundy expert…”

Was this a backhanded compliment? An underhanded backstab? A bit of both? I replied ‘guilty’ to the charge of¬†Burgundy fanatic, ‘definitely’ to lack of hugs as a child, but balked at ‘mild terror’ when opening a bottle of¬†the noble juice.

Which got me thinking about my life as a wine writer with a particular passion for Burgundy. It’s no accident that I fell down the rabbit hole of Burgundy. It¬†appeals to those of us reserved in nature. Burgundy requires determination, diligence, and discretion, not only as a vigneron, but as a disciple of the region.

Also no accident that writing chose me as a profession.¬†Suffice it to say that reading “Alice in Wonderland” at age seven¬†opened my eyes to the wonder and power of words. By age eight writing had chosen me, though it took a lifetime of maze-milling before leaping¬†full-time into freelance word-smithing.

But wine writing? For a shy person, wine writing presents an unholy challenge, because the wine industry as a rule attracts extroverts Рpeople who thrive on the company of others. For introverts, incessant socializing exhausts, rather than excites. A fact I tried to ignore at first, with disastrous results.

As a neophyte wine writer, I forced my self to work in a series of tasting rooms Рfamily, corporate, niche, boutique Рto learn the nuances of the industry, as well as the artistry of winemaking. But these experiences took their toll, both on me and others. Reserved people as a lot do not understand the social dynamics necessary to lubricate a tasting room; most miss important social cues that others take for granted. The same frustrations held true during my initial wine maker interviews.

Sadly, while the social torture continued, morale did not improve – until a wise mentor told me to ‘flip the script,’ positing that¬†the story problem offered a different¬†narrative. He was right.

I write about what Joseph Campbell coined the ‘Hero’s Journey,’ sharing wine makers’ leaps of faith, overcoming obstacles, and a final battle – usually in a cave – followed by ¬†a victorious return with the boon, or treasure – in this case wine, the redThread‚ĄĘ that binds us all.

As an introvert in an extrovert’s industry, I identify with these people I write about, because I’ve followed their same journey. ¬†I understand the courage needed to follow one’s passion, to overcome obstacles, to do battle in order to create something out of nothing, something that hopefully inspires others.

I’ve also learned that the social liability of shyness – right up there along other no-no’s like¬†bad breath and acne – actually proves an asset as a writer. Talking less means listening more. Seeing more. Feeling more. Sussing out the subtext while others talk all over the obvious.

Do I ever wish someone could wave a magic wand and make me an extrovert? Sometimes. But introversion helped me find my voice. Brought me to¬†Burgundy. Led me to¬†wine makers with stories worth telling. And taught me to stop trying to be¬†something I’m not. In this time of renewal, may you embrace¬†whatever you are. Cheers.

Pssst…hope you like the new website look! Feel free to share your thought below…

¬†Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | red Thread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.
More Wine Writer Confidential:

My latest in France Today: Little Black Book takes on Burgundy!

Now out! France Today | Little Black Book | Burgundy

Dear Readers:

The March 2017 issue of France Today  magazine is out, including my favorite wine places in Burgundy under the Little Black Book section.

You can grab a copy of the magazine at any tabac throughout France, or via international subscription.

I’ve included a sneak peek here¬†for my loyal followers.


Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. ¬†All Rights Reserved.