The Hedonistic Taster | № 14 | Arínzano – Navarra, ES

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 14 |  Arínzano 

Navarra, Spain

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML


“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 gorgeous, small-lot artisan pours in an intimate tasting format.

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

Today’s Tasting:

Arínzano | Navarra, ES.

Don’t let the fact that Stoli Group owns this bespoke winery fool you. Arínzano boasts both a prestigious pedigree and a bit of renown as northwestern Spain’s first Vino de Pago certified winery. These artfully crafted,  limited production wines range in style and price from Grand Cru-quality full-bodied affairs to easy, breezy everyday pours. Below, please find notes from my recent tasting, as well as links to my exclusive interview with Arínzano wine maker and CEO Manuel Louzada. Enjoy!

View my exclusive interview with Arínzano winemaker and CEO Manuel Louzada here.

Award-winning Arínzano Gran Vino. Image ©Arínzano.

Wine: Arínzano Gran Vino Blanco

Vintage: 2010

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $79.00



Robe: Transparent straw robe.

Nose:  Lemon, delicate white flowers, sweet oak notes on the nose.

Palate: Light/medium body, bright acids, mineral core. Energetic approach, unflagging, refined finish.

Suggested Pairing(s): No surprise this wine won the Grand Champion Best of Show at the 2017 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition. A suitable wine to spur discussion at any family or business meal, especially with freshly prepared seafood or deftly sauced poultry.

Arínzano Vino de Pago Gran Vino Tinto 2008 is made from 100% Tempranillo.

Wine: Arínzano Gran Vino Tinto

Vintage: 2008

Alcohol: 14%

Suggested Retail: $99.00



Robe: Opaque garnet robe.

Nose:  Potpourri, dark fruit, herbaceous notes.

Palate: Medium body, well-timbered tannins, even-keeled acids; dried tea and rosemary on the bouche. Impeccably mannered approach, sustained mid-palate,  polite, persistent finish.

Suggested Pairing(s): A serious yet adaptable wine suitable for a wide range of guest affinities, including paleo-loving pork roast or lamb shank, pescatarian-preferred salmon or ahi,  and even vegan-friendly stuffed portobello mushrooms.

Hacienda de Arínzano Rosé is made from 100% Tempranillo.

Wine: Hacienda de Arínzano 

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $19.99



Robe: Dusty, translucent rose robe.

Nose:  Pampas grass, saline, rosemary, quince notes.

Palate: Pink grapefruit, mimosa, rose petal, white pepper bouche. Light body, vivid acids, attentive finish.

Suggested Pairing(s):  For those seeking immediate gratification, serve ice-cold on a hot day deck, dock, patio or poolside, along with a fruit plate or tapas. For more patient quaffers, this wine opens to full-throated fragrance as it warms.

Hacienda de Arínzano White wine is made from 100% chardonnay.

Wine: Hacienda de Arínzano Blanco

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $19.99



Robe: Pale golden robe.

Nose:  Acacia, hazelnut, almond notes.

Palate: Yellow grapefruit, discrete grass, toasty oak on the bouche; light body, acid plus, slight mineral finish.

Suggested Pairing(s): High quality quaff for the price, perfect for a picnic in the countryside after a long bike ride.

View my exclusive interview with Arínzano winemaker and CEO Manuel Louzada here.

View my exclusive interview on the Spanish Arínzano website here.


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

TASTE Vacations| Basque Country & Rioja ES

TASTE Vacations| Basque Country & Rioja ES

binNotes | a food, wine & travel blog

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

TASTE Vacations: Basque Country and Rioja| Spain

Follow binNotes: | Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram

Welcome, dear readers…As promised,  I have a travel update for you.

Last November I told you about my travels to Paso Robles, CA. for the Wine Tourism Conference to learn more about the TASTE Vacations luxury wine tours affiliate program.

As an affiliate, I get to share upcoming wine tours with you.

Well, that day has arrived.

 Out of respect to you, dear readers,  I’ve decided to highlight only those wine region(s) and wine tour guides I know personally.


  TASTE Vacations Basque Country and Rioja | Spain

 A truly great tour guide offers a seamless introduction to another culture, combining  fact and folly to make the trip not just enjoyable, but memorable. And if you get a tour guide conversant not only in the country’s language(s), but its nuances –  well, then folks, you have yourself a keeper.

Jenny Siddall of TASTE Vacations Basque Country and Rioja | Spain tour is a keeper. I first met Jenny at a non-TASTE Vacations affiliated wine tasting class in San Sebastian, Spain in 2012 (that’s her arm pouring in the left-hand picture above.)

What can I say? This tri-lingual Brit expat knows her Rioja. And her bubbles. And the Spanish culture, a culture she’s embraced as her own.  A culture centered around food, wine and friendship. Combine the tour with breathtaking geography, delightful weather, plus up-close and personal encounters with local bodegas, artisan vendors, and cooking classes…well, you may not want to come home. I know I didn’t.

The good news: The next TASTE Vacation Basque Country & Rioja | Spain tour with Jenny Siddall departs July 12-17 2015. 

The tour includes the option for private tours, and a choice between classic or luxury accommodations.

Details here.

The bad news: Only one TASTE Vacation Basque Country & Rioja | Spain tour currently scheduled in 2015.

Get on it! Register here.


TASTE Vacations currently offers no tours to Burgundy, so if you are hankering for a visit to the Center of the Universe, please feel free to shoot me an email @, tweet me @binNotes, or feel free to leave a comment below – I’m happy to give you my personal recommendations.

Care to share? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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Copyrighted binNotes 2015. All Rights Reserved. All photos courtesy the author.

Get Your Blanca y Rosado On!

Welcome to binNotes, a blog for those who consider wine an art, not just a beverage.

A Triple Play of Tastes to Get Your Blanca y Rosado On!

by L. M. Archer, FWS

So many Spanish wines, so little time. Did you know that Spain boasts most land planted to vines worldwide, over 600 native Spanish grape varietals, and 54 Denominacións de Origen (DO’s)?

Let’s keep it simple. Looking for rockstar whites or roses to go with your tapas,  small plates, or Sunday brunch? Try this triple play of binNotes’ favorite fresh tastes from some unexpected wine regions:

BIERZO DO  (Castille-Leon)

An intoxicating offering of whites, rosados, and upstart reds.

RUEDA DO  (Castille-Leon)

Reknown for refreshing dry whites from the native Verdejo grape, this tiny district sits down-river from Duero del Ribero DO. 

Still available are the more traditional fortified wines Palido Rueda (fino) and Dorado Rueda (rancio), and sparkling Rueda Espumoso (méthode chamenoise).


The Pyrenees peer down upon this destined-for-greatness Spanish wine region best known for its barrel-fermented Chardonnay.

Find these wines on WineSearcher:

  • 2011 Prada Godello – Bierzo DO
  • Monte Alina 2011 Verdejo Viura – Rueda DO
  • Tierra Buena 2011 Blanca – Rueda DO
  • 2011 Blanco Nieva – Rueda DO
  • 2011 Pirineos Rosado – Somontano DO
  • 2008 Estada Rosado – Somontano DO
  • 2009 Viñas Delvero Blanco – Somontano DO

Learn More on Spanish Wine:

7 Sip-Worthy Spanish Wine Regions

Spanish Sippers

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Spanish Sippers: Part 2

Spanish Sippers: Part 2

by L.M. Archer

In Spanish Sippers, Part 1, binNotes shared seven sip-worthy Spanish wine regions.

Today, binNotes cracks open the treasure trove of personal favorites from these regions, listed by region, Bodega, and vintage.

Many of these wines cost under $15US, except most of the Reserva, Gran Reserva , Superior, and Cuvee Especial. Most are found on

Wines listed by region:
Priorat DOQ
Segura Viudas Viña Heredad 2010 Tinto

Penedés DO
Familiá Sedó Bar-Celó 2010 Tinto

La Mancha DO
Adolfo Selleción – Tinto
Finca Venta de Don Quijote – 2009 Tinto

Ribera del Duero DO
Obra – Joven 2010 Tinto
Pago de Carraovejas – Autor 2010 Tinto

Jerez DO
Terry Pedro Ximinez Sherry
Terry Fino Sherry
Terry Oloroso Sherry
Harvey’s Amontillado Sherry
V. Castillo de Macharnudo Superior

Rioja DOCa
Cepa Santiguas – Joven 2011
Landaluca – Rioja Alavesa – Joven 2011
Hacienda Lopez de Haro – Crianza 2008
Bai Gorri – Crianza 2007
R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia – Viña Bosconia Reserva 2003
Viña Olagosa – Gran Reserva 2001
Royal Carlton – Brut Nature, Cuveé Especial

Txokolina DO
Geñeta – Txokoli 2011

BONUS: You’ll note some super blanco (white) and rosado (rosé) sippers from three (3) Spanish wine regions we’ll be discussing next feature:

Three Spanish Wine Regions to get your Blanco y Rosado On!

  • Bierzo DO
  • Rueda DO
  • Somontado DO

In the meantime, if you do try any of these wines and wish to share YOUR impressions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

And if you’d like binNotes’ personal impressions on any of the wines here…leave a comment below. binNotes loves sharing tasting notes. ¡Salud!

Look for these upcoming binNotes features:

Three Spanish Wine Regions to get your Blanco y Rosado On!
The Fino Print on Sherry


Links to more binNotes Spanish Wine Features:

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Copyrighted 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved. All photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

7 Sip-Worthy Spanish Wine Regions

7  Sip-Worthy Spanish Wine Regions

by: L.M. Archer, FWS

image: L.M. Archer©

“Beber este vino es como hablar con Dios.”
(“Tasting this wine is like talking with God.”)
-Spanish saying

For the adventurous yet frugal traveller, Spain abounds with fresh, food-friendly wines, most for well under $10.

And Spain’s diverse meso-climates –  broad, limestone central Meseta, complex coastlines, and steep, granitic massifs –  translate into equally versatile food pairing options.

But first…Some Spanish Wine History

For centuries, Spanish wine making operated on the rustic side.  But in the late 1800’s, thanks to France’s phylloxera epidemic, many French wine makers moved south to Spain. Once the louse departed France, the French wine makers returned home, leaving behind their methods.

Some French practices remained, such as the use of oak barrels instead of traditional large stone troughs, known as lagars. Spaniards added a twist to the barrel making by importing cheaper American oak wood and fashioning, then toasting, barrels according to French methods.

Spanish Cava, first produced in Penedès in 1872,  also owes its heritage to French champagne making methods.

Like France, Spain enacted their first  wine laws in 1932. Similar to France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, Spain’s own Denominación de Origen (DO) laws outline and safeguard specific geographic regions. Today, Spain’s DO’s number fifty-four. Additionally, Rioja ranks as Spain’s highest, and only DOCa (Qualified Denomination of Origin) classified region.

Unlike the French, however, Spanish wine makers long emphasized process and maturation, rather than vineyard site.  However, many of Spain’s emerging modern wine makers now challenge this notion. And while two world wars, a civil war, and a repressive dictatorship hobbled Spain’s wine industry through the 1970’s, Spain has quickly moved ahead on the world stage, emerging as a worthy competitor in the 21st century.

Seven (7) sip-worthy Spanish wine regions offering both value and variety:


Penedès DO

  • Location: NE Spain, directly south of Barcelona
  • Claim to Fame: Birthplace of Spanish sparkling wine (cava) in 1870’s.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Cariñena, Garnacha, Macabeo, Monastrell, Parellada, Tempranillo, and Xarel-lo.
  • Fun Fact: Where Freixenet invented the rémouge-inducing gyroplate, or girasol (Spanish for sunflower) in 1972.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Perfect as an apéritif, with seafood or tapas.

Priorat DOQ/DOCa

  • Location:  NE Spain, inland SW from Barcelona
  • Claim to Fame: Small, low-yield estates producing high-quality, much-demanded reds.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Cariñena, Garnacha.
  • Fun Fact: The region’s name stems from a Medieval monastery Priorato de Scala Dei (‘Priory of the Stairway of God.’)
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Tapas, ham, lamb, chicken, delicately seasoned fare.

Image: L.M. Archer©

La Mancha DO 

  • Location: Spain’s central Meseta region.
  • Claim to Fame: Spain’s largest wine region, and it’s driest.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Airén (for brandy), Garnacha, Pardian, Tempranillo, Viura.
  • Fun Fact: Home to Man of La Mancha’s tilting windmills
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Tapas, heavier meats and informal meals.

Rioja DOCa

  • Location: Northern Spain – Ebro River Valley. Rioja contains three (3) regions:
    • Rioja Alavesa– Northernmost
    • Rioja Alta– Northwestern
    • Rioja Baja – Southeast
  • Claim to Fame: Spain’s first (1981), and most famous designated wine region. Rioja employs unique, stringent aging requirements, designated by four (4) categories, with corresponding color-coded labels on the back of each bottle:
  • Joven: Wines under 2 yrs. old.
  • Crianza: Wines 3+ yrs old; aged 6 mos. + in barrel
  • Reserva: Wines of best vintages 3+ yrs. old; aged 1 yr + in barrel.
  • Gran Reserva: Wines of exceptional vintages 5+ years old; aged 2+ yrs in oak barrels and 3 yrs in bottle. White Gran Reserva: Wines aged 4+ yrs, at least 1 yr. in barrel.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Graciano, Garnacha, Malvasía, Mazuelo (Cariñena), Tempranillo, Viura.
  • Fun Fact: Supposedly named after the Ebro River tributary, Rio Oja.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: The Little Black Dress of Spanish wines – dresses up or down for any occassion and  meal, depending upon the aging and vintage.

Ribera Del Duero DO

  • Location: Duero River Valley
  • Claim to Fame: Cult-following high-quality reds.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Garnacha, Tinto del País (Tempranillo)
  • Fun Fact: Spain’s second (1982) designated wine region.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Segovia’s famous succulent baby lamb.


Jerez DO

  • Location:  SW Spain in Cadiz near Jerez de la Fronterra.
  • Claim to Fame: Birthplace of Sherry, which deserves an entire future feature.
  • Primary Grape varietals: Moscatel Gordo Blanco (Muscat de’ Alexandrie), Palomino, Pedro Ximénez.
  • Fun Fact: The region is known for its prized, white limestone soil, albariza. Also for its Andalusian horses.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Truly eclectic – suitable as an apéritif, with afternoon tapas, as well as after dinner.

Bizkaiko Txakolina/Getariako Txakolina/Arabako Txakolina DO 

  • Location: Three (3) separate geographic appellations within Spain’s northern Basque region.
  • Claim to Fame: Slightly fizzy (pétillant), crisp, highly acid white wines.
  • Primary Grape Varietals: Ondarrabi Zuri (Corbu Blanc), Ondarrabi Zuri Zerratia (Petit Corbu), Izkiriota (Gros Manseng).
  • Fun Fact: The proper way to serve txakoli: Pour from a raised bottle to waist-high glass below in order to aerate the wine.
  • Food Pairing Suggestions: Designed to pair with tapas and seafood.

For travellers contemplating a trip to Spain, or simply a visit to the international wine section of your local market, these  Spanish palate pleasers provide an affordable gateway to its eclectic food and wine culture.  ¡Salud!

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Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved. All photos courtesy of the author and may not be used without permission.

#Terroir: Guest #Publication Updates

Image: Ronda, ESL.M. Archer,  binNotes(c) 2012
Image: Ronda, ES
L.M. Archer (c) 2012

Welcome to binNotes’ Terroirist Tuesday.

It’s a busy year’s end here at binNotes!  Look for links to the following Terroirist Tuesday features this December:

Palette Press:
Look here for  L.M. Archer’s article on Willamette Valley  in Palate Press  on December 12th, 2012.

Guest Blog: BootnAll:

Look here for binNotes’ forthcoming guest blog on ‘7 Sip-Worthy Spanish Wine Regions’ for BootsnAll Travel Network. The post will include some cool photos from my recent trip to Spain.

Thanks again for stopping by…please feel free to leave a comment below…Cheers!


Copyrighted 2012. All Rights Reserved.

If Dogs Reviewed Wines…


Yesterday’s WSJ article by Elizabeth Bernstein on “Why We Are So Rude Online” got me thinking – what if dogs reviewed wines?

So today, Lucca – the canine power behind binNotes’ throne – weighs in on his Pic 3 pours for this week – Old World all:

#1: Chorey Château De Les Beaune Les Cras 2007 – Premier Cru

4-Paws up poised perfection. Cranberry-colored cherry eddy with black currant undertow.
Wine Merchant: Garagiste $39.99


#2: Cantina Di Negrar Le Roselle Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2010

3-Paws-up plays-well-with-any meal sunny-sloped, twice-kissed Sofia-Loren-on-a-picnic delight. Wine Merchant: European Vine Selections  $15


#3: Monte Ducay Reserva Cariñena 2008

2-Paws-up (ok – probably 3) Roll out  a barrel of this high quality, castanet-snapping informal Iberian sipper. Wine Merchant: Trader Joe’s $5.99


Bark less – drink more wine! Cheers~