Did Not See this One Coming…


William Heritage Vintage Brut Sparkling Wine, Outer Coastal Plain, New Jersey.

Honored to be featured in this USA Today’s Cherry Hill Courier News story on New Jersey Wines by wine writer and sommelier Robin Shreeves…shout out to my other #wineStudio cohorts, too!

Link to the full article here.

Cheers, all!


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


“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. 


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.


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

Champagne, please!

Dear Readers:

It’s official!

After several twists, turns, interruptions, a major relocation, and a last-minute concussion, I’m relieved to report that I’ve successfully obtained my Champagne Master Level designation through the international Wine Scholar Guild.

As mentioned before, I consider Champagne the ‘flip side’ of Burgundy – same varietals (chardonnay + pinot noir), but different textures, complexities, and concept of terroir.

I sat for the exam directly before leaving for Burgundy’s 157th annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction – what a sweet return surprise.

Champagne, please!

As always, great to hear from you in the ‘Comments’ section below and on social media – cheers!

All images and text Copyrighted 2017 binnotes.com | L. M. Archer. All Rights Reserved.

Affordable Burgundy + Beyond Sidebars| Gothenburg + Paris

Hi Dear Readers:

I’m still en route to Hospices de Beaune 2017 wine auction in Burgundy, with sidebars to Gothenburg, Sweden to conduct interviews for a forthcoming article I’m doing on Swedish sommeliers, and to Paris for research on a pending project.

Please enjoy these photos of travels to date – you can follow my entire tour on Instagram or Twitter @binnotes.

As always, great to hear from you in the ‘Comments’ section below and on social media – cheers!

All images and text Copyrighted 2017 binnotes.com | L. M. Archer. All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster | № 31 | Bells Up Winery – Willamette Valley, OR.

The Hedonistic Taster |  № 31 | Bells Up Winery – Willamette Valley, OR.

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

Today’s Tasting: Bells Up Winery – Newberg, OR

Sara & David Specter, proprietors of Bells Up Winery in Newberg, OR.

“We all have two lives, and the second begins the moment we realize we only get one.” – Confucius

In another life, winemaker Dave Specter didn’t drive a forklift. Or a tractor. Or make wine in the Willamette Valley.

In a previous life, Dave Specter and his wife Sara suited up, sucked it up, and slugged it out in the corporate Midwest –  the former as an attorney, the latter in advertising.

Until 2008. By then, Sara had endured three miscarriages within 13 months, Dave’s work obligations associated with his law career had devolved into a nightmare, and the couple’s seven-year marriage hung on life-support.

A couple of years earlier, a well-meaning marriage counselor had suggested that they find a ‘couples project’ to help resuscitate their relationship. They chose wine making. That project eventually restored Dave’s equilibrium, recalibrated their relationship, and catapulted the couple across country for a visit to Willamette Valley in 2008.

There, snuggled into a cozy B & B in Newberg, the couple dreamed aloud about someday buying land in the Willamette Valley and making wine professionally.

Shortly after they returned from that trip, Sara’s mentor and friend Kelly was diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic cancer, which ended her life 10 short months later. Explains Sara, “Kelly’s life, and her fight for it, was a key inspiration for our decision that Dave would leave his career as an attorney and chase the winemaking dream.”

In 2009, events dominoed with alacrity, and irony. Dave gave his notice, and found a professional winemaking mentor in Cincinnati, under whom he worked for three years. After Dave won two amateur national winemaking competitions, the couple sold their home in Ohio, and decamped to Oregon in 2012. Once in the Willamette Valley, while Dave worked a harvest internship at Alexana Winery,  Sara discovered and purchased a site on NE Bell Road in Newberg –  very near the B & B where they’d previously stayed.

The winery name “Bells Up” refers to a specific moment by classical music composers when they instruct French horn players to lift up the bells of their instruments in order to project sound with maximum intensity. Dave, a former French horn player in high school and college, alludes to the winery as his “Bells Up” moment.

I first met Dave and Sara at their winery for an exclusive tasting while in town for IPNC this past summer. These samples include some of their pinot noirs, as well a bonus syrah.

Note about serving Bells Up wines: I highly recommend decanting these wines approximately 30 minutes prior. Like any Burgundy-inspired wines, these require a little time to open up and best reveal their secrets.

Award-winning Bells Up Winery 2014 Titan Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Bells Up Titan Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage: 2014

Alcohol:  13.5%

Suggested Retail:  $40 (128 cases produced.)

Producer Specs:  “Named for Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major “Titan,” this classic Oregon pinot noir mingles 24% Chehalem Mountains Pommard (25-year-old vines) grown in volcanic Jory soil, with 38% each of Yamhill-Carlton Dijon clones 115 and 777 (15-year-old vines) grown in sedimentary Willakenzie soil. Aged 10 months in French oak, the harmonious result epitomizes 2014’s perfect growing season.”


Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:  Red fruit aromas – currant, cranberry, raspberry.

Palate: Red fruit notes carry through on the palate. Light body, balanced acids and tannins, light finish.

Suggested Pairings:  This lyrical, light-hearted wine pavanes across the palate with melodious ease. Inspired pairing with pan-seared sea bass, cranberry beans and celery coulis.

Rating: 91

Bells Up 2015 Titan Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Bells Up Titan Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  13.3%

Suggested Retail:  $40  (116 cases produced.)

Producer Specs: “The 2015 edition of Bells Up’s flagship Oregon pinot noir mingles 42% Yamhill-Carlton Pommard (6-year-old vines) with 29% each of Yamhill-Carlton Dijon clones 115 and 777 (16-year-old vines), all grown in sedimentary Willakenzie soil. Aged 7 months in French oak (30% new), this bold, fruit-forward, well-structured Pinot is a result of 2015’s extremely hot summer, with 25 days of 95-plus-degree heat during the growing season and very little rain. The small clusters and berries yielded intensified flavors and aromas.”

“Both vineyards/growers [used] are side-by-side on Cooper Lane in Yamhill…Tonnelier Vineyard  and Yamhill Vineyards (also a B&B)…The Pommard came from the one due south of Tonnelier. There’s a bit of a slope but it’s not dramatic. There’s definitely a little micro-climate right there that keeps it a touch cooler.”


Robe:  Clarion ruby robe.

Nose:  Savory black olive, dusty red fruit, potpourri on the nose, with an aromatic back note.

Palate: Red cherry, currant and cranberry carry through from front to mid-palate, with spicy back-palate notes. Light body, well-balanced acids and well-structured tannins, medium finish. Suitable for both early drinking  and cellaring.

Suggested Pairings:  A lovely harmony between dark and light notes, this wine adds coloratura to any meal, spurring lively conversation.

 I’d recommend Bells Up 2015 Titan Pinot Noir for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, given its savory notes and crescendo of cranberry and spice on the palate.

Rating: 92


Bells Up 2015 Firebird Syrah – Summit View Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley AVA (Oregon side.)

Wine: Bells Up Winery Firebird Syrah – Summit View Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley AVA (Oregon side.)

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  15%

Suggested Retail: $36 (70 cases produced.)

Producer Specs: “Released in April and named for Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” these grapes were sourced exclusively from Summit View, one of the highest elevation vineyards in Milton-Freewater, Oregon—at 1,150 feet. This site’s vines are rooted in Ellisforde silt loam, a deep, well-drained glacial soil that produces full-bodied fruit with concentrated flavors and vibrant acidity. Aged 7 months in French oak.”


Robe:  Opaque porphyry robe.

Nose:  Black fruit, ‘funk-free’, fragrant violet aromas.

Palate: Black currant, blackberry, brambled bouche. Medium body, well-balanced, plush tannins, lengthy finish.

Suggested Pairings:  A deep-tenored wine of subtle power that pairs well with hearty winter fare in front of a roaring fire.

As a Burgundy and pinot noir aficionado, I do find occasional sucor among syrahs from of Walla Walla Valley and The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater.  This wine ripples across the palate with surprisingly suppleness and grace.

Bells Up 2015 Firebird Syrah wine talks softly and carries a big finish.

Rating: 92 

Bells Up Winery | 27895 NE Bell Road | Newberg, OR 97132 | P: 503.537.1328 


 Link here to find out more about Bells Up Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend Open House Events.

Link here to find out more about Bells Up Post-Thanksgiving Weekend Open House Events.

Link here for more Hedonistic Taster.


Please feel free to leave your comments below, and to follow 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


“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.”


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.”


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.

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