Wine Writer Confidential | â„– 2

Dear Readers:

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

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.

It’s no secret that a virus laid me low last week, rendering me useless, and unable to taste. However, the down time allowed me to ponder a few things…

On Wine, Words, Burgundy, and Battling Shyness in an Extroverted Industry

Recently, a wine blogger whom I respect sent me this:

“…I just finished an ARC of Cork Dork and the writer is talking about Burgundy and there is a line in there are a few sentences that made me think of you. 

“I’ve never watched someone open what was supposed to be an outstanding bottle of Burgundy without a look of mild terror on her face. The wines oxidize, they get reductive, they are fickle in mediocre vintages, and they go through awkward phases in their youth. The people who adore these wines tend to have a masochistic streak, and when you meet a Burgundy fanatic, it’s hard not to puzzle over what trauma – were they hugged enough as kids? – might have compelled them to attempt to master this region.”

Not to say this is you, but it made me think of you, a Burgundy expert…”

Was this a backhanded compliment? An underhanded backstab? A bit of both? I replied ‘guilty’ to the charge of Burgundy fanatic, ‘definitely’ to lack of hugs as a child, but balked at ‘mild terror’ when opening a bottle of the noble juice.

Which got me thinking about my life as a wine writer with a particular passion for Burgundy. It’s no accident that I fell down the rabbit hole of Burgundy. It appeals to those of us reserved in nature. Burgundy requires determination, diligence, and discretion, not only as a vigneron, but as a disciple of the region.

Also no accident that writing chose me as a profession. Suffice it to say that reading “Alice in Wonderland” at age seven opened my eyes to the wonder and power of words. By age eight writing had chosen me, though it took a lifetime of maze-milling before leaping full-time into freelance word-smithing.

But wine writing? For a shy person, wine writing presents an unholy challenge, because the wine industry as a rule attracts extroverts – people who thrive on the company of others. For introverts, incessant socializing exhausts, rather than excites. A fact I tried to ignore at first, with disastrous results.

As a neophyte wine writer, I forced my self to work in a series of tasting rooms – family, corporate, niche, boutique – to learn the nuances of the industry, as well as the artistry of winemaking. But these experiences took their toll, both on me and others. Reserved people as a lot do not understand the social dynamics necessary to lubricate a tasting room; most miss important social cues that others take for granted. The same frustrations held true during my initial wine maker interviews.

Sadly, while the social torture continued, morale did not improve – until a wise mentor told me to ‘flip the script,’ positing that the story problem offered a different narrative. He was right.

I write about what Joseph Campbell coined the ‘Hero’s Journey,’ sharing wine makers’ leaps of faith, overcoming obstacles, and a final battle – usually in a cave – followed by  a victorious return with the boon, or treasure – in this case wine, the redThread™ that binds us all.

As an introvert in an extrovert’s industry, I identify with these people I write about, because I’ve followed their same journey.  I understand the courage needed to follow one’s passion, to overcome obstacles, to do battle in order to create something out of nothing, something that hopefully inspires others.

I’ve also learned that the social liability of shyness – right up there along other no-no’s like bad breath and acne – actually proves an asset as a writer. Talking less means listening more. Seeing more. Feeling more. Sussing out the subtext while others talk all over the obvious.

Do I ever wish someone could wave a magic wand and make me an extrovert? Sometimes. But introversion helped me find my voice. Brought me to Burgundy. Led me to wine makers with stories worth telling. And taught me to stop trying to be something I’m not. In this time of renewal, may you embrace whatever you are. Cheers.

Pssst…hope you like the new website look! Feel free to share your thought below…

 Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | red Thread™. All Rights Reserved.
More Wine Writer Confidential:

Wine Writer Confidential | â„– 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.

red Thread™ Exclusive: Manuel Louzada | ArĂ­nzano – Navarra, ES

red Thread™ Exclusive: Manuel Louzada | ArĂ­nzano – Navarra, ES

Welcome to binNotes | redThread™

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne Master Level

Today’s Exclusive Interview:

Manuel Louzada | ArĂ­nzano | Navarra, Spain

“Singular terroir, estate character, noble pedigree.”

Sometimes a winery doesn’t just surprise you – it knocks you on your palate.

I discovered such a winery by happy accident while tasting wines from another country (Achaval-Ferrer of Argentina). Those wines lassoed me with their voluptuousness, verve, and vibrancy. Turns out the same team, part of the Stoli Group empire,  purchased an artisan winery in Spain in 2015.

Today we talk to CEO and wine maker Manuel Louzada about his Navarra venture Arínzano, the first Vino de Pago designated winery in Northern Spain.

For those of you unfamiliar with Arínzano, the winery soon goes full gaucho here in the United States as it accepts Champion Best of Show saddle prize  for the Arínzano 2010 Gran Vino Chardonnay at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition award ceremony on Sunday, February 26, 2017. This event marks the first time in the competition’s fourteen-year history that a white wine emerges the winner, and the first time that the winner hails from Spain.

Clearly, something is goin’ on down on the Pago…as Manuel Louzada shares here.

r/T™:  Arínzano is Northern Spain’s first Vino de Pago certified vineyard, Spain’s highest category for winemaking, above D.O.Ca. Can you explain to readers the exhaustive requirements necessary to achieve this certification, including climate, terroir, and winemaking? Why was it so important to Arínzano to achieve Vino de Pago certification?

ML:  First, the Spanish Wine Classification is regulated by law and extremely strict, approved as well by the EEC (European Economic Community). In this particular case, the law 24/2003 de la Viña y del Vino contains the Wine Classification, which resembles a sort of hierarchical pyramid, from the Vino de Mesa (which has a wide source of grapes, being the least exclusive) to the highest, most exclusive both in quality and availability, as it comes from a single property, Vino de Pago (from the Latin pagus, determined district of agricultural land, mainly vineyards).

The Vinos de Pago have to go through exactly the same exhaustive requirements as the D.O.Ca, like La Rioja or Priorat. To start, vineyards must be located in a limited area and produce wines which have to be made and bottled in the region and before being release to the market submitted to the control organizations – Consejo Regulador, INTIA and EEC in the case of the D.O.Ca, while INTIA and EEC for the Vinos de Pago – so that these wines are authorized to be sold.

To achieve the Vino de Pago category, you have to demonstrate to the most important public organizations, INTIA and EEC, the uniqueness and exclusivity of your terroir, through a highly extensive in-depth study of soil and climate. Once this is proven, you have the obligation to produce wine for ten years and submit for organoleptic and physical-chemical analysis. This is not only to demonstrate consistency but, most importantly, to demonstrate that the wine has unique and singular characteristics. As you can see, it is not a simple process. On top of this, if at some point during that 10-year process—since you are the only representative—the wine does not reach the established standards for characteristics or the quality you risk losing this particular appellation.

The founding goal of Arínzano wines is to reflect the uniqueness and exclusivity of the amazing terroir where the different vineyards have been planted, therefore it was a natural evolution to become the first Vino de Pago in Northern Spain.

r/T™  The history of ArĂ­nzano reads like something out of a Gabriel GarcĂ­a Márquez novel – a noble estate founded in the eleventh century by Sancho Fortuñones de ArĂ­nzano, selected by another nobleman in the 1600’s for the site of a palace. Over time, the estate lapses into ruin, only to be rediscovered in 1988. Today, in addition to its Vino de Pago certification, it’s the only vineyard in Spain certified by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for environmental responsibility. Can you briefly touch on the efforts ArĂ­nzano has made in four critical areas, and why the WWF is so important to ArĂ­nzano?

NOTE: The four critical areas:

  1. The conservation and restoration of the natural environment:  half of the estate is reserved for indigenous flora and fauna.
  2. Organic viticulture with a low-environmental impact, and integrated pest control.
  3. Use of only certified environmental materials in the construction of the winery.
  4. Natural waste water filtration through a series of lagoons.

ML:  Indeed, the history of Arínzano is fantastic. In some parts of Spain, the presence of vineyards was naturally tied to the economic situation of the area, especially in such a naturally rich region. During the least favorable economic conditions, some vineyards were uprooted to plant cereal grains, to feed the population, while when the economic conditions improved, vineyards were planted to enjoy wine, which was always recognized for its exceptional quality, with the locally produced foods. I believe that these cycles influenced the fact of having not vineyards in the property which led to its re-discovery in 1988. When you have in your hands such a magnificent estate, with incredible natural conditions, you feel immediately compelled to concentrate all your efforts to permanently take care of the environment. The fact that we have been recognized by the WWF is the result of all the daily efforts in the above mentioned areas. As a result, all the team is extremely proud and you can easily sense this difference when seeing the vegetal and animal diversity or the natural conditions of the Ega River.

r/T™:  ArĂ­nzano lies in northwestern Navarra, in a valley formed by the last slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains. It comprises 355 hectares – 128 dedicated to Vino de Pago certified vineyards. Soils include loams, sand, limestones, limonites, gypsum and dolomites. Both marine and Ega River influences impact the climate, and the region enjoys over 2500 hours of sunlight annually.

Talk about the varietals you’ve chosen to cultivate here, and how the mélange of soil types and microclimates impact the unique wines created at Arínzano.

When applying for the Vino de Pago Classification, we understood one of the most significant particularities of this magnificent property is the diversity of its microclimates. The grape varieties were chosen by taking into account the type of soil and the overall climatic conditions as well as the movements of the Cierzo wind (a cold and dry wind coming from the North) through the property, the orography of the mountains, and finally the proximity of the Ega River, which translates into a milder climate. The Chardonnay, for example, was planted in the higher parts of the property with very poor and superficial soils but optimal limestone. The temperature there is colder as the result of the combination of higher elevation and the Cierzo influence. On the opposite is the Merlot, which is planted in slightly richer soils, protected from the wind by the Populus trees and benefitting from the naturally milder, slightly more humid conditions generated by the Ega River.

r/T™. Do any of Arínzano’s production methods differ from other wineries in Spain? If so, how?

ML:  At Arínzano, we are convinced that the style of our wines must reflect the terroir where they come from. Starting almost two years ago my team, Diego Ribbert and José Manuel Rodriguez, and I dedicated our lives to understand each and every individual character of the Arínzano vineyards throughout all the vegetative cycle. We decided the most appropriate moment of harvest by walking each plot of vineyard and adopted the most appropriate winemaking technique to express and, if possible, help enhance the magnificent virtues of this terroir. Finally, the choice of barrels, only French, is in line with the wines obtained and the pursued style of the wine. The wines aging in barrel are tasted monthly to follow their evolution and to precisely decide when to blend and bottle.

In my opinion, on one hand, almost each and every winemaking technique has been discovered. On another hand, the majority of the high quality winemaking equipment is available for anyone. For me it is the importance of the terroir, the sensitivity to understand, protect and translate into the wine these particular characteristics together with maximum attention to details and handcrafted winemaking, as described before—this allows us to make the exceptional wines that we envision.

r/T™:   Both Arínzano and the Stoli Group winery in Argentina, Achaval-Ferrer, share certain unique similarities, viz., geographically challenging sites with diverse soils, complex microclimates, and culturally rich histories. Is acquiring Arínzano part of a deliberate strategy, part pure luck, or a combination of both?

ML:  Indeed, it is part of a deliberate strategy to have exclusively included in our portfolio so far such fantastic brands as Achaval-Ferrer and Arínzano. As a matter of fact, the characteristics mentioned in your question are the pillars to achieve exceptional wines and afterwards to allow the brands to grow as references in the world of wine amongst the highest reputed wines.

r/T™:   Arínzano employs a unique business model, a model which also includes luxury accommodations, tasting experiences, and cultural events. How have guests responded to these additional amenities? Do you have any upcoming events or amenities that particularly excite you?

ML:  Throughout my personal and professional experience, I have received continual feedback that after visiting the vineyards, walking the winery, talking to viticulturists and wine makers to have a sense of their work and tasting both the wines in barrel and from the bottle at the winery, visitors had a much more complete experience and stronger connection to the wine. I wholeheartedly agree and also firmly believe that, if all the visitors experience the same values at each and every moment of the visit, these will translate into a long-lasting memory.

One unique experience we are developing for a future visitor offering is a 3-day visit taking advantage of the San Fermines Festival timing in early July. We design a winery visit that allows time in the vineyards and the winery, to understand our artisanal winemaking philosophy, to taste the wines in barrel and from our wine library, while enjoying the most celebrated moment in Pamplona [the Running of the Bulls.] To date this is an experience for our global team and select journalists, which was so much fun throughout the visit last year that I’m very much looking forward to hosting the 2017 experience.

r/T™:  Anything else you’d care to share with readers about Arínzano?

ML:  First of all, I would very much like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain a little bit more about Vinos de Pago which, in my opinion, will soon be the future of Spanish Wine.

Secondly, and after all being said, I can only invite the readers to come to the property to live the complete Pago de Arínzano experience. As once someone I very much admire taught me “…it is not important to invite someone, it is important that the invitation has been accepted…”

r/T™:  Finally, if your experience as a winemaker and owner of world-class vineyards has taught you anything, it’s taught you…?

ML:  I believe it has taught me almost everything I know. My personal background is not very typical for a winemaker… I’m the fourth generation of a family dedicated to the wine business. The first time that I have tasted wine was at the age of five, a tiny amount of Sparkling Wine from my family winery, Caves Messias, in the Bairrada region, which started my passion for wine. I studied in Spain and started my formal professional life in Portugal making Port Wine. Later I was invited to move to Argentina, to be in charge of Sparkling Wine of the most recognized producer, Chandon Argentina. Later, during my experience in Argentina, I was in charge of winemaking of all the wines production, Sparkling, Still and Iconic Still Wines, which allowed me to return to Spain and be in charge of Numanthia (Termanthia was one of the first five wines from Spain honored with 100 points by Robert Parker). Almost over two years ago, I took on a new challenge by assuming leadership of such a recognized brand like Achaval-Ferrer and one of the hidden jewels of Spain, the Vino de Pago de Arínzano*. With all this in mind, after studying winemaking and becoming passionate about making wines that reflect the terroir from where they originate, I have learned throughout each and every experience, especially with generous people equally willing to share their experiences.

Link to more information: Arínzano

*(NOTE: Outside the America market, the winery is referred to as Vino de Pago de Arínzano.)

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.

 Thank you:

Manuel Louzada

Patricia Clough

BKWine Magazine: Tasting Roserock Drouhin Oregon Wines

BKWine Magazine: Tasting Roserock Drouhin Oregon Wines

BK WIne Magazine logo

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, all – here’s a sweet treat for you:

My latest feature in Paris-based BKWine Magazine: Tasting Roserock Drouhin Oregon Wines, Eola-Amity Hills.

And for those of you who prefer your tasting notes in Swedish, link here.

On another note, looking forward to attending the Jancis Robinson event at UC Davis moderated by Alder Yarrow of Vinography this Thursday, weather permitting…

Cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™. All Rights Reserved.

Custom Wine Labels | Vineyard & WInery Management Magazine

Custom Wine Labels | Vineyard & WInery Management Magazine

Dear Readers:

No, I have not forgotten about you – just  a bit busy juggling my writing life with our relocation from Seattle to the Monterey Peninsula while drowning in my new home state’s  drought-ending, creek-river-lake-and-sea swelling deluge.

But I did want to circle back and start cleaning up some loose ends left dangling prior to the move.

Here’s one:

It’s a link to my article published in the January-February issue of Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine. The previous link led you to the site accessible to paid subscribers.

Enjoy – and thanks for your patience and understanding during our move – cheers!

Finalement…

Dear Readers:

I’m currently in the throes of moving from the drizzly PacNW to my new home in sunny California…can’t wait to get back on track soon to share more stories about wine..the redThread™ that binds us all!

Cheers!

Final Sunset
Sunset |Finalement. ©L.M. Archer

Copyrighted binNotes | redThread™ 2017. All rights reserved.

Now Out! Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine

Dear Readers:
My feature on custom labels “Blink of An Eye” is now available in the current issue of Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine.

Give it up for custom labelers everywhere!

vineyard-winery-management-january_february-2017

What a way to start the New Year…cheers!

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread™.  All Rights Reserved.