Fave 5 Highlights of 2017

What an eventful year!

Here’s my Fave 5 highlights of 2017, in chronological order: 

1. Meadowood Wine Writers Symposium 2017
Winning a Fellowship to the Meadowood Professional Wine Writer’s Symposium 2017 (WWS17) set the tone for 2017, and introduced me to a slew of savvy industry professionals, Napa Valley winemakers, and top-notch wines.

So when the Wine Country wildfires hit later this year, it was personal.

Personal fave: Meeting up with WWS17 alum Marie Oskarsson – noted Swedish author, sommelier, and  journalist – while in Gothenburg working on a pending international feature I’m doing on Swedish sommeliers.

2. International Pinot Noir Celebration 2017

A media pass to the 31st Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration featuring “The French Adventurers: Burgundians Making Pinot Noir in Oregon” felt more like winning the Burgundian lottery.

Kicking things off at the The Grand Seminar included commentary by – and wines from – these French luminaries:

  • Véronique Boss-Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Roserock Drouhin Oregon and Maison Joseph Drouhin.
  • Jacques Lardière of Résonance and Maison Louis Jadot.
  • Dominique Lafon of Lingua Franca and Domaine des Comtes Lafon.
  • Jean-Nicolas Méo of Domaine Nicolas-Jay and Domaine Méo-Camuzet.
  • Alexandrine Roy of  Phelps Creek Vineyards and Domaine Marc Roy.

I also scored a berth at University of Pinot “Meteorology 325: The Impact of Vintage in Burgundy” Besides tasting more fabulous wine, we received a master class on Burgundy, terroir, and vintage from host Allen Meadows.

Panelists included Chisa Bize of Domaine Simon Bize et Fils, Mathilde Grivot of Domaine Jean Grivot, and Étienne de Montille of D. de Montille, who shared their personal harvest notes, including a particularly riveting account of the cataclysmic 2016 harvest.

Aside from seminars and tastings, off-campus ‘field trips’ rounded out an over-packed itinerary, including a tour of Chapter 24 Vineyards Witness Tree Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills AVA with winemaker Felipe Ramirez, a private tasting at Bells Up Winery in Chehalem Mountains AVA with Dave and Sara Specter, a sidebar with John Grochau of Grochau Cellars, and dinner with Jeff Knapp and Kitri McGuire of Visit McMinnville.

Personal fave: Profiling winemakers from emerging pinot noir regions, including New Zealand’s Paul Pujol of Prophet’s Rock  and Duncan Forsyth of Mount Edward for Palate Press,  and South Africa’s Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines for BKWine Magazine.

3. Women in Wine

“Ataxaria: ‘a state of serenity or calm.” 

What happens when a group of talented ‘women of wine’ retreat to California’s Lake County in late September? “Ataxaria: Yoga & Meditation for Women,” brainchild of  USA Today’s Lauren Mowery, proved the right combination of ‘reset’ and ‘restore’ over a long weekend of yoga, hiking, local wine tasting and farm-to-table fare, plus a lot of laughter.

Personal fave: Sirsee seminar with Amy Bess Cook, founder of Women-owned Wineries of Sonoma County. Wine Sistahs in the house!

Bonus:  Check out her recent interview in Grape Collective here.

 

4. Bubbles!

Ok – so I’m still not sure how I ended up falling down the rabbit hole of the Champagne Master Level designation I earned in November, but I can verify that I did drink more champagne over the course of the rigorous program than most people drink in a lifetime. In the process, I developed a new appreciation for Champagne’s complex history, geology, production techniques, and the art of assemblage.

I also admit that, despite an unbreakable bond with Burgundy, I do consider Champagne the ‘flip side’ of Burgundy – same cépages (pinot noir, chardonnay), but different textures, and terroir. Well worth the effort.

Personal fave: Reviewing Champagne expert and author Caroline Henry’s new book Terroir Champagne  – an invaluable study guide for any student of bubbles.

5. Hospices de Beaune

The view from the cramped press room overlooking the Hospices de Beaune wine auction never gets old. Ever. Nor do the official tastings,  luncheon, and press conference prior to sounding the auction gavel.

During three days covering the 157th Hospices de Beaune wine auction,  I rushed between obligatory press tastings and events to conduct a one-on-one interview with Domaine Hospices de Beaune managing director Ludivine Griveau for the February 2018 issue of basil + salt magazine, sneak a peak inside the Burgundian cellars of Oregon vignerons Véronique Drouhin-Boss of Maison Joseph Drouhin, Jean-Nicolas Meo of Domaine Meo-Camuzet, Comte Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair, and Matthieu Gille of Domaine Gille for the February 2018 issue of Oregon Wine Press, and attended an exclusiveinvitation-only preview of  Three Days of Glory at Beaune’s Les Ateliers du Cinéma, a film about Burgundy by Oregon wine importer Scott Wright and filmmaker David Baker.

Bonus: You can get the inside scoop Three Days of Glory in the March 2018 issue of Oregon Wine Press prior to the international  Newport Beach Film Festival premier in April 2018.

Personal fave: Getting lost in Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits under softly setting afternoon sunlight. Though we  missed our Roi Gevrey-Chambertin tasting and dinner, the magnificent views brought much solace.

So grateful you’ve been here to share 2017 with me…looking forward to more adventures in 2018!

Have your own 2017 fave event or wine? Please do share in the comment section below!

Cheers, and Best Wishes in 2018!

Copyrighted 2017-2018. binNotes | redThread™. All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 33 | Left Coast Cellars – Willamette Valley, OR.

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 33 | Left Coast Cellars – Willamette Valley, OR.

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

Tastevin

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

Today’s Tasting:  Left Coast Cellars –  Willamette Valley Oregon

Left Coast Cellars’ Willamette Valley estate sits atop the Van Duzer Corridor, nearly 150 acres of its 350 acres planted to vines upon a steep natural amphitheater overlooking an expansive meadow  and spring-fed lake. Diverse microclimates and soil types inform the wines produced here.

Left Coast Cellars Latitude 45º 2015 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Estate.

Wine: Left Coast Cellars Latitude 45º Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley Estate

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  13.8%

Suggested Retail: $38

Link to Producer Specs. 

TASTING NOTES

Robe:  Deep ruby robe.

Nose:  Cranberry, red currant, raspberry notes.

Palate: Fat red fruit on the bouche; medium-light body, uncomplicated mid-palate, finish.

Suggested Pairings: For those who appreciate a more fruit-forward pinot noir. Per the winemaker, best paired with braised meats and root vegetables.

Rating: 89

Left Coast Cellars | 4225 N. Pacific Hwy 99W | Rickreall, OR 97371 

888-831-4916

Link here for more on Left Coast Cellars.

Link here for more Hedonistic Taster.

Always great to hear from you in the comments below, and on social media.

Cheers!

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

The Hedonistic Taster | № 32 | Chapter 24 Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR.

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 32 | Chapter 24 Vineyards – Willamette Valley, OR.

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

Tastevin

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

Today’s Tasting:  Chapter 24 Vineyards | Willamette Valley, OR.

The story of Chapter 24 Vineyards is a story about coming full circle, a story that begins and ends in Oregon’s bucolic Willamette Valley, but at its heart straddles France and Chile.

A cross-continental collaboration featuring Burgundian consulting winemaker Comte Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair in Vosne-Romanée, Chilean winemaker Felipe Ramirez, and film and TV producer-turned wine impresario Mark Tarlov, the project centers around producing small-lot, ultra-premium pinot noir that reflect a distinctive ‘sense of place,’ or terroir.

Much like a fingerprint, each ‘block’ or site contains its own sensorial imprint discernible through meticulously calibrated mapping devised by international terroir specialist Pedro Parra.

The name “Chapter 24”  refers to Homer’s final chapter of his epic “The Odyssey.”  The wine’s name “The Fire” Pinot Noir nods to Willamette Valley’s volcanic basalt soil, while the wine label contains a rose and arrow, symbols of “The Odyssey’s” catalysts – women and war.

As Chapter 24 Vineyards advises “Our wines are for those of thinking age.” Indeed. Get your drinking caps on for this one.

The Fire 2015 Pinot Noir, Chapter 24 Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   The Fire Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  13.5%

Suggested Retail: $60 (NOTE: Only 300 cases produced.)

Link to Producer Specs. 

TASTING NOTES

Robe:  Luminous ruby robe.

Nose:  Dark cherry, floral, basalt.

Palate: Blackberry, black plum, black currant bouche, light body, tannins+, seamless structure, supple body, subtle textural thru-line, thoughtful finish.

Suggested Pairings: Fire, hot! Antonio Banderas in a bottle.

A smoldering, dark-lidded pour with an undercurrent of tensile dramatics, sparks may fly when paired with well-rested entrecôte and roasted root vegetables.

Rating: 93

Link here to find out more about Chapter 24 Vineyards.

Chapter 24 Vineyards | 531 OR-99W, Dundee, OR 97115 | 503.487.6341 

By appointment only. 

Author’s Note:

In November,  I visited Comte Liger-Belair at his estate in Vosne-Romanée. His estate contains some of Burgundy’s most illustrious grand crus and climats, an estate also informed by the work of Pedro Parra. In a ‘full-circle’ story moment, tasting the wines of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair book-ends a tasting I did last July at Chapter 24’s Witness Tree Vineyard with winemaker Felipe Ramirez while in town for IPNC. In both instances, a remarkable purity of expression carried through, reflective of site and vintage.

Look for more on my tour of Oregon vignerons’ Burgundian cellars in the February 2018 issue of Oregon Wine Press.

Link here to find out more about Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair.

Learn more about international terroir specialist Pedro Parra here.

Link here for more Hedonistic Taster.

Always great to hear from you in the comments below, and on social media.

Cheers!

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

The Hedonistic Taster | № 29 | Cloudy Bay – New Zealand

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 29 | Cloudy Bay – New Zealand

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 and beyond.“Beyond” includes existing and emerging producers of Pinot Noir worldwide.

Today’s Tasting: Cloudy Bay – New Zealand

In 1985, pioneer David Hohnen founded Cloudy Bay in Marlborough, New Zealand. One of the first wineries established in that remote wine region, Cloudy Bay  derives its name from the region’s body of water so named by the explorer Captain Cook for its hazy sedimentary floodwaters flushed bayside.

In 2003, opulent lifestyle group LVMH purchased Cloudy Bay, subsequently ensconcing winemaker Tim Heath and viticulturist Jim White. The winery offers luxury premium wines sourced from exceptional single vineyard sites, as well as high value and quality regional blends.

These samples represent both entry and luxury level wines.

Wine: Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 

Vintage:  2015

Alcohol:  13.5%

Suggested Retail:  $30

Producer Specs:  Marlborough Pinot Noir
“The Pinot Noir fruit was entirely handpicked and de-stemmed before being gravity fed into the fermentation vessels. 13% of the fermentation was comprised of whole bunches. The fermentations utilised natural occuring yeast populations under carefully monitored conditions. The grape skins were gently plunged with an average of 18 days skin contact. After fermentation the wines were matured in French oak for 12 months, of which 35% was new.”

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Medium opaque garnet robe.

Nose:  Graphite, roses, red cherry on the nose.

Palate: Blueberry, damson plum, persimmon bouche. Light body, medium acids, tannins, finish.

Suggested Pairings:  A versatile pour that pairs well with soft cheeses, charcuterie, and savories.

Rating: 90. Superb entry-level introduction to New Zealand pinot noir.

Wine:   Cloudy Bay Te Wahi Pinot Noir

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  14%

Suggested Retail:  $74

Producer Specs: “Selected vineyards in the Bannockburn, Bendigo and Lowburn subregions of the Cromwell bassin. The first vintage born from the alliance of our two owned- vineyards – Calvert and Northburn.

90% of the fruit was de-stemmed. Before fermentation in stainless steel the fruit was cold-soaked for 5 days . Wild yeast fermentation took between 2-3 weeks. The wines were hand plunged between 1-4 times daily. After fermentation, batches were lightly pressed and racked to barrel with 14 months aging in French oak of which 40% was new. Racked before bottling and lightly fined with egg white.”

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Medium dark, plummy garnet robe.

Nose:  Dark plum, black cherry aromas, with a hint of spice.

Palate: Through-line of dark plum, black cherry, and blackberry on the bouche; medium light body, lyrical acids and tannins, plush finish.  Opulent brilliance.

Suggested Pairings:  A well-structured wine worthy of venison or richly truffled pasta.

Rating: 93

Learn more about Cloudy Bay Winery here.

Cloudy Bay | 230 Jacksons Rd, Blenheim 7240, New Zealand

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.

Affordable Burgundy + Beyond Takes a Knee

Greetings, Dear Readers:

I’m on hiatus this week spending some much-needed time with visiting family.

In the interim, my heart goes out my intrepid friends and colleagues in Napa and Sonoma enduring the wildfires. You will prevail. No doubt. #WineCountryStrong.

I leave you with a few images from two top-tier Reserve tastings I tippled through this past week, both showcasing stellar New World pinot noir and chardonnay.

Felton Road winemaker Blair Walter produces premium wines, including Burgundy- inspired Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Central Otago, NZ.

The first, a 20th Vintage Vertical Tasting of Central Otago’s Felton Road at San Francisco’s Farallon Restaurant featured winemaker Blair Walter, who teed up four different flights before lunch, then continued the barrage of brilliance throughout a gorgeous four-course luncheon.  In full disclosure, I arrived in time to taste through the final two flights of pinot noirs, (I missed the new releases and chardonnays) and had to depart after the second course. That said, genius attracts notice, however fleeting the encounter.

Generally speaking, the 2011-2015 pinot noirs from Cornish Point and Calvert vineyards sported clarion ruby robes, lean bodies, pristine fruited aromas, animated acids, keen minerality, and a lingering finish.

The final flight, however – 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 pinot noirs –  proved heart-stopping in their grace, elegance, and finesse.  Bouquets varied from stewed red fruits in Block 2003, to barnyard notes in Block 3 2005, leather notes in  Block 3 2007, savory hints in Block 5 2009,  and sous bois in Block 5 2010. Burgundy-inspired indeed.

Noble of tannins, seamless in structure, haunting in finish, these Felton Road reserve pinot noirs merit inclusion among the pantheon of finest Burgundians in their quality, complexity, and age-worthiness.

More to follow about specific tasting notes, variations in soils, microclimates, farming, and production techniques of Felton Road.

Link to my two-part series in Palate Press on Central Otago wineries here:

Palate Press:  Taking it Slow in Central Otago – Part I

Palate Press: Taking it Slow in Central Otago – Part II

Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association hosts the 2017 Pinot Paradise Reserve Tasting held at Pasatiempo Golf Club’s Hollins House.

The second Reserve tasting, Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association’s annual Pinot Paradise at Pasatiempo Golf Club’s Hollins House, offered pours from local legends like Big Basin, Mt. Eden, King’s Estate, Mindego Ridge, and Windy Oaks Estate Vineyards.

A post-tasting Technical Session also featured Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, Equinox & Barolo Winery, Silver Mountain Vineyards, Thomas Fogarty Winery, and Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards.

You’ll be hearing more about these local wineries in future posts, but the undisputed stand-out of the event was Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association show of support for Napa and Sonoma through #CAWineStrong.

Link to my exclusive interview with Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Winey here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – please feel free to leave a comment below. You can also follow me on social media – links above. Cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™.  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.

Wine Industry Insight: Taking it Slow in Central Otago, Parts 1 + 2

Wine Industry Insight: Taking it Slow in Central Otago, Parts 1 + 2

Always a thrill when Wine Industry Insight features one’s work!

My latest Palate Press series on Central Otago in their “Down Under” section:

Wine Industry Insight | Down Under| Taking it Slow in Central Otago, Part 1 link here.

Wine Industry Insight | Down Under| Taking it Slow in Central Otago, Part 2 link here.

Have a great weekend, all!

I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below,  and be sure to follow me on social media to get the latest on Affordable Burgundy + beyond…cheers!

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