The Hedonistic Taster | № 35 | Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 35 | Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster, an intimate showcase of artisan winemaker trade samples. The title “Hedonistic Taster” derives from the term ‘hedonistic tasting,’ coined by legendary Burgundian vigneron Henri Jayer.

These tasting notes compliment  binNotes | Affordable Burgundy, bubbles and beyond.“Beyond” includes existing and emerging producers of Pinot Noir worldwide.

Today’s Tasting: Smith-Madrone | Spring Mountain District,  Napa Valley, CA.

Here are some shocking Wine Country après-wildfire statistics:

According to a Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute study on the impact of last year’s Wine County wildfires, 99.8 %  of California’s North Coast vineyard acres were not affected by the fires. Moreover, 93 % of wineries surveyed reported no structural damage or long-term impact.

What does this mean?

It means that you need to hop on over to Napa and Sonoma ASAP.

Ask these fine folks how they’re doing. Taste their wines. Eat their farm-to-table food pairings sourced from local farms that also survived the wildfires.

These are proud, passionate, resilient people. People eager, willing and grateful to share the bounty of Wine Country with you.

I can think of no better place to start than Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Wineryon Spring Mountain in Napa Valley.

Founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone straddles Spring Mountain atop steep, rocky, dry-farmed slopes rising between 1,300-2,000 feet. Today the Smith family, including enologist Stu, brother and wine maker Charles, and son and assistant winemaker Sam, produce ~4,000 cases of small-lot, artisanal wines annually from this 200-acre ranch overlooking Napa Valley.

Smith-Madrone wines represents the graceful soul of Old Napa combined with the unbreakable spirit of Napa Reborn – supple, approachable, with a powerful core of mountain je ne c’est quoi. A good place to start, indeed.

Smith Madrone 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain District – Napa Valley.

Wine: Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  13.9 %

Suggested Retail:  $52

Link to Producer Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Opaque garnet-ruby robe.

Nose:  Dark fruits, tomato leaf, tobacco, black tea, capsicum back-note.

Palate: Medium body, firm tannins, balanced bouche, lengthy finish. Age-worthy for the patient; savor-worthy now for those who eschew delayed gratification.m

 

Smith Madrone 2015 Chardonnay, Spring Mountain District – Napa Valley.

Wine: Smith- Madrone Spring Mountain District Chardonnay

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  14.9%

Suggested Retail:  $34

Link to Producer Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Pale gold robe.

Nose:  Apricot, nectarine, fleurs blanches.

Palate: Light body, lush florals and stone fruit bouche, unctuous finish.

Learn more about Smith-Madrone here.

Tastings by appointment only.

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

Always nice to hear from you, dear readers!  Please feel free to leave your comments below and on social media – cheers!

Copyrighted 2018 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved.

Napa + Sonoma: Still Beautiful

Dear Readers:

Hope you are enjoying your holiday season…just  wanted to share some images from my visit Napa and Sonoma earlier this week on assignment.

Clearly, Wine Country is still a beauty to reckon with.  Many thanks to all who opened their doors, wineries, and hearts to me this trip.

Happy Holidays, all!

 

What about you – any recent visits you care to share? Any trips you have planned? Feel free to leave your comments below, or post @binnotes on Twitter/Instagram.

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

The Hedonistic Taster | № 30 | Animo 2015 Heritage Sauvignon Blanc | MMFE – Napa Valley

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 30 | Animo 2015 Heritage Sauvignon Blanc –  Michael Mondavi Family Estate | Napa Valley

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Today’s Tasting: Animo 2015 Heritage Sauvignon Blanc – Michael Mondavi Family Estate  | Napa Valley

Napa and Sonoma wineries are open for business, folks –  as today’s trade sample proves.

Animo” in Italian means ‘heart’ or ‘spirit’  – an apt descriptor for this wine, and the Wine Country community.

Michael Mondavi Family Estate represents ‘Old Growth’ Napa, a firmly rooted fourth-generation winery with a prestigious pedigree. In 1996, they purchased Animo vineyard atop Atlas Peak, and Heritage Block in 2006.

Farmed sustainably employing 19th century trellising, Heritage Block contains Sauvignon Blanc vine cuttings sourced from Oakville’s historic ToKalon vineyard, vines considered the oldest in North America, and directly traceable to Bordeaux’s famed Château d’Yquem.

Animo Sauvignon Blanc seamlessly blends this old world heritage with a new world indomitability. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “If wine be the music of love, pour on!”

 

2015 Animo Napa Valley Heritage Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine:   Animo 2015 Napa Valley Heritage Sauvignon Blanc

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  14.4% 

Suggested Retail:  $65 [6 barrels produced.]

Specs

Robe:  Clear straw robe.

Nose:  Gooseberry, citrus, cut grass aromas.

Palate:  Aromas carry through on the bouche. Bright acids, medium-light body, medium finish.

Suggested Pairings:  A classic sauvignon blanc clever enough to pair with shrimp skewers and Thai dipping sauce.

Rating: 91

Learn more about The Michael Mondavi Family here.

Want to learn more about how to help the victims of Wine Country wildfires?

Link to Wine Industry Insights Wine Country Wildfire Relief/Resources here.

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

 

Always nice to hear from you, dear readers…please feel free to leave your comments below and on social media – cheers!

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

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

 

The Hedonistic Taster | № 28 | Artesa Winery | Napa Valley

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 28 | Artesa Winery – Napa Valley

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster*, an intimate showcase of artisan winemaker trade samples.

These tasting notes compliment  binNotes | Affordable Burgundy and beyond.“Beyond” includes existing and emerging producers of Pinot Noir worldwide.

Artesa Pinot Noir – Napa, CA.

Today’s Tasting: Artesa Winery – Napa Valley, CA.

Quick – which Napa Valley boasts over four centuries of winemaking?

Answer:  Artesa Winery.  Their labels sums up it up succinctly:  “Est. Barcelona 1151, Napa 1991.”

A new world scion of Spain’s prominent Codorníu family’s cava empire, Artesa Winery estate comprises 350 acres in Carneros, replete with a sleek guest facility designed by Barcelona architect Domingo Triay that sprawls hillside like an exotic odalisque, ornamented with a world-class art collection and recently revamped Tasting Salon. But Artesa’s wines emerge the real treasure in this haven to artistry.

‘Artesa’ means “hand-crafted’ in Catalan, and Portuguese-born Director of Winemaking Ana Diogo Draper imbues both still and sparkling wines with old world soul and new world attitude. My samples represent their 2015 pinot noir production, and a bonus sample of the Codorníu Cuvée Clasico cava from Barcelona as a textural/cultural contrast.

About the 2015 Napa Harvest: A fourth consecutive year of drought yielded small quantities but high quality fruit throughout Napa.

Artesa Winery 2015 Estate Pinot Noir, Los Carneros, Napa Valley, CA.

Wine: Artesa Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir | Los Carneros – Napa Valley

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  14.6%

Suggested Retail:  $45

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear, deep garnet hue.

Nose:  Pomegranate, graphite, floral notes.

Palate: Cranberry, red cherry, wild berry bouche. Light/medium body, acids, tannins, finish. Surprisingly soft-spoken, elegant, deeply satisfying wine that belies its alcohol level. Excellent quality.

Suggested Pairings:  Personally paired this with marinated wild Alaskan salmon and a late summer salad made from local farmer’s market organic little gems, purple cabbage, radishes, and scallions.

Rating: 93

Artesa 2015 Los Carneros Pinot Noir, Napa Valley.

Wine: Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  14.2%

Suggested Retail:  $25

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Opaque garnet robe.

Nose:  Cranberry, mulberry, herbaceous backnote.

Palate: Dark and red fruits predominate – blueberry, plum, cherry. Light body, acids, refined tannins.

Suggested Pairings:  An approachable wine suitable for casual, soulful fare such as ratitouille or cassoulet.

Rating: 89.5

Codorníu N/V Cuvée Clasico Cava – Barcelona, ES.

Wine: Codorníu Cuvée Clasico Cava Brut

Vintage: N/V

Alcohol:  11.5%

Suggested Retail:  $15

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear, pale gold hue.

Nose:  Yellow apple, stone fruit.

Palate: Diffuse mousse, perlage; bright acids, green apple bouche.

Suggested Pairings:  Personally paired with paella – the acids well complimented the briny seafood and saffron.

Rating: 88. Excellent quality/value.

Learn more about Artesa Winery here.

Artesa Winery | 1345 Henry Road, Napa CA 94559

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

 

I want to hear from you. Please leave your comments below, and join the conversation on social media – cheers!

*Author’s Note: The title “Hedonistic Taster” derives from the term ‘hedonistic tasting,’ coined by legendary Burgundian vigneron Henri Jayer.

 

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

Ackerman Family Vineyard + Ackerman Heritage House | BKWine Magazine

Dear Readers:

As I prepare to attend the International Pinot Noir Celebration later this week, I wanted to alert you of the recent publication of my interview with Lauren Ackerman of Ackerman Family Vineyards and Ackerman Heritage House in Paris-based BKWine Magazine.

You can find the link here.

It’s also available in Swedish here.

Also…please look for a new format and focus to binNotes in 4th Q 2017…More on those changes after summer break.

In the meantime, enjoy these final dog days of  summer. Cheers!

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

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

Cheers!

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

The Hedonistic Taster | № 3 | Grgich Hills Estate – Napa, CA.

The Hedonistic Taster | № 3 | Grgich Hills Estate – Napa, CA.

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 3

Grgich Hills Estate

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

tastevin

“Wine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.” – Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster, a binNotes |redThread™  trade sampling of artisan wine published every other Sunday each month.

The title derives from the term ‘hedonistic tasting,’ coined by legendary Burgundian vigneron Henri Jayer.

The Hedonistic Taster allows me the opportunity to introduce you to some gorgeous pours through this intimate tasting format.

Santé!

Today’s Tasting:

Grgich Hills Estate | Napa, CA.

To appreciate Grgich Hills Estate wines, you need to understand the wine maker. In order to understand the wine maker, you have to appreciate his struggle.

For wine maker Miljenko “Mike” Grgrich, struggle defines his existence. Like his vines, he has had to dig deep to bear the rich fruit that crafts the sweet wine of his life.

Rejecting life in former communistic Yugoslavia, eventually garnering praise as an esteemed Napa artisan winemaker instrumental in Chateau Montelena’s historic Judgement of Paris award-winning chardonnay – Grgich embodies the character so evident in his wines.

In 1995, Grgich broke ground on another winery in his native Croatia,  Grgich Vina.

Farmed organically, Grgich wines exude a soulful, old world freshness and immediacy, sans pretension.

Alone or with food, these wines welcome your palate, like an old friend.

Grgich CH

Wine: Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay 

Vintage: 2012

Alcohol:    13.5 %

Suggested Retail: $45.00

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Pale golden.

Nose: Golden apple, almond blossom, green melon.

Palate: Muskmelon, Honey Crisp apple, supple hint of toasted nut. Lack of malolactic fermentation plus bio-dynamic farming reveals a stunning girl-next-door who needs no makeup to invite her to dinner.

Suggested Pairings: Local seafood, roasted chicken, grilled pork, creamy cheeses.

Grgich Fume Blanc

Wine:  Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Fume Blanc (aka Sauvignon Blanc.)

Vintage: 2013

Alcohol:    14.1 %

Suggested Retail: $30.00

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Pale lemon.

Nose: Lime flower, tropical fruits.

Palate: Pineapple, lemongrass, stone fruits. A pristinely piquant picnic pleaser that you won’t want to kick off the blanket.

Suggested Pairings: Grilled shrimp, goat cheese salad, spicy Mexican or Asian cuisine.
Grgich Merlot

Wine: Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Merlot

Vintage: 2012

Alcohol:    14.9 %

Suggested Retail: $43.00

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Medium opaque cherry.

Nose: Dark cherry, blue plum.

Palate:  A plush, balanced sideswipe to any Sideways naysayers. @#$% yeah, Merlot!

Suggested Pairings: Beef tenderloin, rack of lamb, duck, barbecued pork.

Grgich Cab Cav

Wine: Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Vintage: 2012

Alcohol:    14.7 %

Suggested Retail: $75.00

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Medium opaque raspberry robe.

Nose: Dark berry, violets.

Palate:  Restrained violet and blackberry notes nuzzle up against masculine tannery back notes, melding into one harmonious, malingering mouthful.

Suggested Pairings: Grilled steak, rack of lamb, roasted duck.

Grgich Plavic Mail

Wine: Grgich Vina Plavac Mali (cultivar related to Zinfandel.)

Vintage: 2008

Alcohol:    15.4 %

Suggested Retail: $38.00

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Medium opaque dark cherry.

Nose: Herbaceous bramble and black cherry.

Palate: Don’t let the high alcohol and robust tannins fool you. This easy quaffer clasps you by the shoulder and heads you out back to the BBQ to join family and friends for the festivities.

Suggested Pairings: Grilled or cured meats, hard cheeses, pizza.

NOTE:  In August 2015, fire decimated Grgich Vina, including its inventory. Thanks to my friends at Bunjohn Wines for sharing this 2008 jewel.

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

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Disclosure: All wines reviewed here are trade samples provided by wineries, media and PR representatives.

Winemakers, media and PR representatives:

Please contact binnotes@gmail.com for shipping details.

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Copyrighted 2016 by binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.