Wine Writer Confidential | № 5

Dear Readers:

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.

Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2017

I’m still buzzed from my visit to Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2017 Premier Epicurean Event Grand Tasting this past Sunday.

For the uninitiated, Pebble Beach Wine & Food 2017 comprised an intoxicating blend of 100 celebrity chefs and 250 prestige wineries, VIP and golf events, cooking demos, and wine and food pairing dinners, plus some ultra-cool after-parties.  You can find out more here.

I attended to research Champagne producers, including Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Charles Heidsieck, Champagne Château de Bligny, Champagne Pol Roger, Champagne Ruinart, and Champagne Taittinger, but also made a point to swing by Oregon producers Kings Estate and Brooks Winery, as well as some familiar faces at New Zealand’s Mt. Beautiful and Argentina’s Achaval-Ferrer.

Truly a benchmark international premier epicurean event – great weather, too!

Special thanks to Janie Brooks Heuck of Brooks Winery for making this happen.

#wineStudio | Achaval-Ferrer | April 25, 2017 | 6-7 p PST

#wineStudio April 2017 Showcases @AchavalFerrerUS #artisan #wines of Mendoza, Argentina.

 

Think Argentina is all about Malbec? No!

Join me Tuesday, April 25, 2017 from 6-7 p PST for the final #wineStudio virtual featuring Achaval-Ferrer’s 2015 Cabernet Franc from Mendoza, Chile.

This concludes our tour of quality quaffs provided by Achaval-Ferrer of Mendoza, Argentina. While Argentina claims fame as the epicenter of Malbec production, Achaval-Ferrer crafts equally intriguing wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

For me, Achaval-Ferrer wines illustrate a singular mastery of the  ‘art of the blend,’ coalescing cuvées of supple strength expressive of their respective terroirs.

For those of you new to #wineStudio, it’s a virtual wine community and educational platform comprised of wine writers, industry professionals, and social media influencers who gather each Tuesday evening to connect about a featured wine of the month. Follow us: #wineStudio.

French Winophiles |  A Tour Through Burgundy | May 20th & June 17th 

The Way of the Cross – Domaine Romanée Conti, Côte d’Or – Burgundy. | Image: ©L.M. Archer

I’m super-excited to host another of my favorite ‘virtual’ tasting groups, The French Winophiles, for a Tour of Burgundy on May 20th and June 17th from 8-9 am PST.

May 20th, we’ll tipple through Chablis and the Côte d’Or, then continue south on June 17th for a taste of the Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais, and Beaujolais.

The topic is Burgundy, the focus food, wine and travel. Rumor has it we might also have a few “Guest Appearances” by some Burgundy food, wine and travel experts…

You can follow along on Twitter at #Winophiles.

Pssst….If you’re a wine writer, blogger or social media maven and want to participate, leave a comment below or IM me @binnotes. Cheers!

The Hedonistic Taster | № 17 | The Walls – Walla Walla, WA.

The Hedonistic Taster | № 17 | The Walls – Walla Walla, WA.

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 17  | The Walls – Walla, Walla, WA.

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 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:

The Walls | Walla Walla, WA.

You can find my exclusive conversation with The Walls winemaker Ali Mayfield here.

The Walls 2015 Martin’s Gold Chardonnay.

Wine: The Walls Martin’s Gold Chardonnay

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  13.3 %

Suggested Retail: $36

Specs:  “Originally brought to America by Paul Masson, Martin Ray planted French Chardonnay in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the 1940’s and revolutionized American winemaking. We make Martin’s Gold from the first plantings of this “Mt. Eden clone” in Washington State. This wine offers a bolder and more New World profile than other chardonnay from The Walls, yet still made in a restrained and balanced Old World style that Ali’s wines are known for.”

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Transparent lemon robe.

Nose:  Vanilla, waxy white florals, light toast notes.

Palate: Oak, citrus, pear, almond bouche; light body, balanced acids and tannins, slight reverb on the finish. Impeccable fruit, beautiful structure. 

Suggested Pairings: A wine for lightly oaked Chardonnay aficionados. Especially compliments creamy cheeses or classically sauced main courses.

 

The Walls 2015 McAndrews Chardonnay.

Wine: The Walls McAndrew Chardonnay | Columbia Gorge

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:   13.3%

Suggested Retail: $36

Specs:  “Doc” McAndrew was a highly educated and respected surgeon in Seattle. He was also “a dreamer and a doer” who brought to life the first planting of Chardonnay in the Columbia Gorge region of southwest Washington in 1972. Doc’s pioneering foresight gave birth to vineyards that are the perfect pairing of site and varietal — few will deny his was among the best fruit in the country. This Chardonnay comes from cuttings from Doc’s original plants and is made in a crisp, fresh style using the nest concrete tanks we imported from Burgundy. We offer it both in his memory and with his “if you can dream it, do it” spirit.

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Pale straw robe.

Nose:  Citron, white rocks, white stone fruits notes.

Palate: Macôn-like golden apple, lemon zest, mineral bouche; light body, vivacious acids, filigree finish.

Suggested Pairings: A lyrical accompaniment to a myriad of seafood dishes, especially crab, sole, and shellfish.

 

The Walls 2014 Stanley Groovy Red Blend.

Wine: The Walls Stanley Groovy Red Blend | Red Mountain

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:   13.6 %

Suggested Retail: $38

Specs:  “You may not have heard of Stanley Groovy, and that’s OK. We’ll tell you he’s a strange — but delightful — guy, much more complex than he lets on, despite his “regular guy” exterior. Inside, he’s groovy — just like the wine in this bottle. Trying to describe this wine is like trying to describe the inside of the fine artist’s mind; you may say you get it but really, no one gets it. And this is why what’s in this bottle will remain in generalities – simple on the outside, complex and groovy on the inside. We will say it is an intriguing blend of red Iberian varietals from Red Mountain, one of Washington’s most prominent AVAs, and is just as suitable for cellaring as it is for immediate enjoyment. Once you taste it, you’ll never confuse it with any other wine.”

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Opaque ruby robe.

Nose:  Blackberry, green pepper, oregano, tobacco notes.

Palate: A well-constructed, integrated, age-worthy, medium+ body wine with plush tannins and a thoughtful, lengthy finish. 

Suggested Pairings: A supple anchor to any meal featuring roasted beef, game, or duck.

You can find my exclusive conversation with The Walls winemaker Ali Mayfield here.

You can find more of The Hedonistic Taster here.

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

The Hedonistic Taster | № 16 | Meeker Wine – Sonoma

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 16  |  Meeker Wine | Sonoma

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 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:

Meeker Wine | Sonoma

There’s no business like show business. Except the wine business. And no wine business like the family wine business. Meeker Wine owners Charlie and Molly Meeker enjoy fame, a foot – and a hand – in all three.

Back in 1977, Charlie (Attorney-turned-Film Producer-turned-Studio Executive) and Molly (actress-turned-Entertainment Business Affairs Executive) bought a “weekend” vineyard in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Vineyard.

By 1984 they established The Meeker Vineyard, going on to produce award-winning Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.

After several years of success built upon a grueling schedule divided between Los Angeles and Sonoma, the Meekers sold their original vineyard and bought a new one in eastern Dry Creek Valley, where Charlie left studio helming in Los Angeles to focus on crafting limited production, Old World-style wines of age-worthy complexity, depth and finesse.

Today, Charlie enjoys the fruits of his labor, while Molly reprises her recurring role as Meeker Wine’s Chief Executive of Everything, son Lucas revels in his ladder-climb from cellar rat to head winemaker, and daughter Kelly steers all things media and technology.

Meeker Wines. “For us, wine means family.” Not a bad billing.

Note:

I first learned of Meeker Wines through #wineStudio, an virtual educational wine community. You can learn more about Tina Morey, the taste maker and trend setter behind #wineStudio, here.

Wine: Meeker Wine Hoskins Ranch Dry Creek Valley Grenache

Vintage: 2013

Alcohol: 14.4%

Suggested Retail: $37

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Clear garnet robe.

Nose:  Marsh rose, cranberry, red currant, white pepper notes.

Palate: Red candy, acerola, persimmon bouche; light body, medium acid, medium tannins, zesty finish.

Suggested Pairings: Grilled vegetable salad.

Wine: Meeker Wine Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Franc

Vintage: 2013

Alcohol: 14.7%

Suggested Retail: $45

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Deep garnet robe.

Nose:  Blackberry, bing cherry, green pepper nose.

Palate: Red and black berry bouche; medium body, light acid, medium tannins with good aging potential. 

Suggested Pairings: A perfect pairing with ratatouille.

Wine: Meeker Wine Handprint Sonoma County Merlot

Vintage: 2013

Alcohol: 14.7%

Suggested Retail: $45

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Dark garnet.

Nose:  Dark cherry, dark fruit, herbaceous notes.

Palate: Blackberry, brambleberry bouche; medium body, medium acid, medium tannins, lengthy finish. Age-worthy.

Suggested Pairings: This wine begs for prime roast and garlic mashed cauliflower.

You can find more of The Hedonistic Taster here.

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

The Hedonistic Taster | № 15 | Ordaz Family Wines – Sonoma

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 15  |  Ordaz Family Wines | Sonoma

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 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:

Ordaz Family Wines | Sonoma

A bridge bore Jesus “Chuy” (CHEW-ey) Ordaz to the United States from Mexico in 1972. A bridge he traversed 33 times before successfully crossing the threshold. In America, Ordaz reaped success in the grape fields of Sonoma, obtained citizenship, and catapulted wineries like Kenwood Estates to fame with his meticulous vine husbandry before carving out a career of his own in vineyard management – all while raising six children with wife and business partner Beverly.

But despite living ‘the American Dream,’ two dreams eluded Ordaz –  making his own wine, and owning his own land. Until now.

Ordaz Family Wines offers single vineyards expressions crafted from some of Sonoma’s finest vineyards, all managed by Ordaz. Launched in 2009, son Eppie oversees the project, with a long-term goal of estate vineyard ownership.

The unique Ordaz Family Wines label epitomizes the family’s philosophy, “Native to Mexico (both the flower and our family), the Dahlia symbolizes the cultural beauty that continually shapes our lives. Universally, the Dahlia expresses diversity, elegance, dignity, personal expression, and the eternal bond between two people, all things that are inherent in any great bottle of wine.”

Thank you to taste maker and virtual wine community virtuoso Tina Morey for providing these samples used in the February #wineStudio wine maker immersion educational series.

Wine: Ordaz Family Wines Malbec | Sandoval Vineyard – Sonoma

Vintage: 2012

Alcohol: 13.6 %

Suggested Retail: $25

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Deep plum hue.

Nose:  Cocoa, black-red fruits, a bit of bramble on the nose.

Palate: Ripe red fruit, earthy mocha on the mouth. Medium body, medium acids, plush tannins, uncomplicated finish.

Suggested Pairings: This wine begs for a rich, luxurious molé and/or homemade tamales.

Wine: Ordaz Family Wines Pinot Noir | Placida Vineyard – Russian River Valley

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol: 13.7%

Suggested Retail: $38

TASTING NOTES:

Robe: Rich garnet robe.

Nose:  Red apple, cherry cola, red currant notes.

Palate: Cherry cola, red fruits on the mouth Light body, medium acid and tannins, soft finish.

Suggested Pairings: A quintessential Russian River Pinot Noir that compliments the usual suspects like grilled salmon or roasted chicken.

You can find more of The Hedonistic Taster here.

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

Wine Writer Confidential | № 3

Dear Readers:

L.M.Archer

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.

Like virtual wine tastings? Well, this month promises a slew of them in my little corner of the universe. Here’s this week’s line-up – hope you can join me on Twitter!

#wineStudio | Wines of Achaval-Ferrer – Argentina

When: Tuesday, April 4th 2017 6 pm PST

Where: Twitter: #wineStudio

@achaval-ferrer

#Malbec

What: Learn about “Winery of the Year” Achaval-Ferrer’s award-winning 100% Malbec, produced from grapes grown in the Uco Valley, Luján de Cuyo and Medrano regions of Argentina.

Additional Achaval-Ferrer virtual tastings throughout the month of April include:

Tuesday, April 11th 2017 6 pm PST

Achaval-Ferrer 100% Cabernet Sauvignon – Agrelo | Medrano Argentina

Monday, April 17th 6 pm PST | World Malbec Day 

Special Blind Tasting

Tuesday, April 25th 2017 6 pm PST

Achaval-Ferrer 100% Cabernet Franc – Uco Valley, Argentina

Learn  more about Achaval-Ferrer at: www.achaval-ferrer.com

Photograph by Goff Photography.

LoCa – The Wines of Lodi, California, featuring Lodi Rules

When: Wednesday, April 5th 2017 – 4 pm PST

Where: Facebook Live

@Lodi_WIne

#LodiRules

#LoCa

What: Earth Day is April 22 & @Lodi_Wine is celebrating by going LIVE April 4th at 4pm PST/7pm EST for a virtual tasting of four (4) Lodi wines made from grapes certified under Lodi Rules – CA’s original sustainable winegrowing program! Get ready to send in comments & questions to your Lodi hosts, winegrower Aaron Shinn of Round Valley Ranches, winemaker extraordinaire Chad Joseph & Stuart Spencer of the Lodi Winegrape Commission. See you there!

Wines:

Oak Farm Vineyards 2016 Sauvignon Blanc | Mohr-Fry Ranches

Bokisch Vineyard 2015 Albariño Terra Alta Vineyard

Michael David Winery 2014 Inkblot Cabernet Franc

Michael Klouda 2014 Broken Vine Zinfandel

The best part about these gloriously easy drinking, food-friendly wines? You get the inside track on a treasure-trove of small-production jewels that most of your friends don’t know about yet, but wish they did.

Learn more about LoCa at: www.lodigrowers.com

View Lodi Rules cool infographic poster here.

the Hedonistic Taster

My tasting note series The Hedonistic Taster makes it’s return with a new line up of artisan samples, including the wines of Arínzano, northern Spain’s  internationally acclaimed enotourism destination heritage vineyard located near Pamplona.

That’s it for now – in the meantime, feel free to leave your comment(s) below or sign up for my newsletter if you want additional information about upcoming  events.

Cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | red Thread™. All Rights Reserved.

More Wine Writer Confidential:

Wine Writer Confidential № 1

Wine Writer Confidential № 2 

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

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 14 |  Arínzano 

Navarra, Spain

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 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

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

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

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

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

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

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

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

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.

Wine Writer Confidential | № 1

Dear Readers:

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

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

Yes, the title pays homage to Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” (2000, Bloomsbury Publishing). But here all similarities end, except the spirit of unpretentiousness. And unpredictability. Because I honestly don’t know how often I’ll be posting this series, nor where it will take us. But I do know that we’ll be taking the ride together.

As a highly reserved person by nature, you can be sure that I’ll be  kicking and screaming in the background throughout. However, in a world incessantly competing for our attention,  I feel we all need this place – a refuge where we can all decompress, peruse, and leave the site thinking, “Hey, life’s not so bad after all.”

Indeed. Not while we have wine to share, the redThread™ that binds us all.

Cheers~

❦❦❦

Some highlights from the past few weeks:

February 21-24 2017: Professional Wine Writers Symposium Meadowood Napa Valley

Held at luxury resort Meadowood Napa Valley, this attendance-by-invitation only allows wine writers worldwide the opportunity to meet with peers and premier industry editors, publishers, and writers for three days of well-paced seminars, wine tasting, and gourmet fare.

As one of the fortunate attending fellows, I appreciated the themed program schedule (“Arrival and Recharge”,”Craft of Writing,” “Career Advancement,” “Wine Knowledge), as well as the intimate-yet-utterly-universal-in-tone keynote by legendary Kevin Zraly, creator and author of “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.” The man survived 9/11, lost a number of his co-workers, not to mention the restaurant he’d worked at most of his adult life – and still continues to inspire others. My personal takeaway? Life involves ‘resiliency,’ ‘perspective,’ and ‘chutzpah.’ The general takeaway?  Life goes on – with a little help from friends, family  – and wine.

The general symposium theme “Wine Writing Goes Digital” proved both provocative and bemusing, given the conference allowance for brief, 15-minute ‘digital breaks” throughout – enough time to check social media, but not enough time to get sucked into its vortex. A win-win situation all around.

Most of all, I treasure the friendships, mentors, and professional connections established in such a magical setting.

Many thanks to Julia Allenby and team Wine Writers Symposium 2017, Meadowood Napa Valley, The Culinary Institute at Greystone and Copia, and Napa Valley Vintners for their graciousness and hospitality.

March 13 2017: Made in New Zealand Trade Tasting | Gallery 308 –  Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

The best part about living in Northern California is proximity to San Francisco’s vibrant wine industry events. And as a student of Burgundy, the recent “Made in New Zealand” trade tasting held at Gallery 308 in Fort Mason Center (with gobsmackingly gorgeous views of the marina and Golden Gate Bridge) expanded my understanding of terroir – and my palate.

Organized by island, north to south, standouts include a sparkling wine by huiavineyards.com giving Champagne a run for its money, a ‘wild-ferment’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014 by Greywacke.com of unusual nuance, and nervy Marlborough winery hillersden.com,  a family willing to literally going out on ridge to make their wines.

As always, great to taste through my usual suspects villamaria.co.nz and mtbeautiful.co.nz.here’s a previous profile of Mt. Beautiful winemaker Sam Weaver, who also makes his own label.

You’ll hear more from me about New Zealand’s enervating, envelope-pushing, culturally respectful approach to wine making in future posts.

Thanks to David Strada and New Zealand Wine for hosting.