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:

  • V√©ronique Boss-Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Roserock Drouhin Oregon and Maison Joseph Drouhin.
  • Jacques Lardi√®re¬†of R√©sonance and Maison Louis Jadot.
  • Dominique Lafon of Lingua Franca and Domaine des Comtes Lafon.
  • Jean-Nicolas M√©o of Domaine Nicolas-Jay and Domaine M√©o-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 √Čtienne 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 c√©pages (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 V√©ronique 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 exclusive,¬†invitation-only preview of¬†¬†Three Days of Glory¬†at Beaune’s Les Ateliers du CineŐĀma,¬†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-C√ītes 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‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.

Guest Wine Writer Series | ‚ĄĖ 12 | Caroline Henry | The Real Meaning of Terroir in Champagne Today

Welcome to binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ

Inspired stories about wine and taste makers.

By L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

This week I share an embarrassment of riches with you as guest writer and international Champagne authority, author and journalist¬†Caroline Henry takes on “The Real Meaning of Terroir in Champagne,” just in time for #Chardonnay Day on May 25, 2017.

I consider Caroline’s gracious reprisal as a guest wine writer here on binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ¬†a true honor and rare privilege, and hope you¬†enjoy her rare insight into this year’s Le Printemps des Champagne equally fascinating – cheers!

You can view her feature on the topic of Bioenergetic Wines here.

You can read my review of Caroline Henry’s book Terroir Champagne here.


The Real Meaning of Terroir in Champagne Today”

by Caroline Henry

Terroir, the dark horse winning the champagne race

The second Les Printemps des Champagne has come and gone, and with it the more than 1,000 visitors who descended upon the region for the event. The particularity of this specific event is that it grew from a group of young Champenois’s desire to explain their terroir.

Nine years ago, 18 winemakers joined forces under the banner of Terres et Vins de Champagne, to organize a tasting showing off their vins clairs (still wines) as well as their champagne. The aim of the tasting was to show the impact of the terroir on the grape variety in a specific vintage. Raphael B√©r√®che, one of the founders of the event elaborates: ‚ÄúWe wanted to show that Champagne also has a myriad of terroirs and that grape varieties have a different expression depending on where in the region they are grown.‚ÄĚ The still wines were shown as it is often easier to notice the terroir differences there rather than in the champagnes.

The first tasting drew a lot of interest from importers, trade and press, and after a successful second edition, other winegrowers decided to regroup and organize similar tastings. This in turn generated more trade and press interest, and more groups were created leading to the ‚Äėofficialization‚Äô of the Printemps de Champagne. However, today‚Äôs twenty-two-tasting-event is a lot more about increasing one‚Äôs brand exposure than about explaining the terroir.

Can we deduct from this that when push comes to shove terroir still plays second fiddle in Champagne, at least beyond Grand or Premier Cru? I would argue against this, underpinning my position with a few observations from the Printemps the Champagne.

When we look at the attendance figures and the quality of visitors we quickly see that the events which continue to focus on terroir were a lot more popular than the others. Terres et Vins retained without a doubt its crown of most popular tasting of the week. Furthermore, the vins clairs only morning session had the most impressive trade and press presence. The session was by invitation only, and more than 250 people from all over the world attended to taste through more than 60 vins clairs. Some were looking to gather a better understanding of last year’s vintage, many just wanted to learn more about the various expressions of a grape variety across the different terroir. When asked why, the recurring answer was ; “it is important to understand the terroir to be able to better communicate about and sell the cuvees’. It seems customers prefer to know where and how the grapes are grown, rather than hearing about the technicalities of the winemaking. The latter is maybe also one of the reasons why tastings which focused predominantly on winemaking specifics drew only very few visitors, and often these visitors were champagne geeks, rather than decision or opinion makers.

Yet, even if there is a definite interest in tasting the vins clairs among the trade and press, it is important to note that showing one‚Äôs vins clair, especially at the same time as others, will expose a winemaker‚Äôs weaknesses.¬† Hence why many groups participating in the Printemps de Champagne prefer to focus on their finished cuvees rather than the still wines, especially after the difficult and rather heterogeneous 2016 season. The still wines do not lie: unripe and/or over-cropped grapes often translate into thin and watered down wines, held together by not much more than acidity and sugar; they are unbalanced and tasting them can be quite painful. It was long accepted that these painful wines were what made the best Champagne. Tom Stevenson, creator of the Champagne and Sparkling Wine Atlas, once told me that the best vins clairs are ‚Äúbland in taste bar for the high acidity as it is the latter which holds the aging potential.‚ÄĚ This is maybe why most experts consider 2008 to be one of the great Champagne vintages, even if many chefs de caves will admit that overall the grapes were picked too early, and this is the reason why the cuvees can be quite acerbic when opened today.

Besides reasonable yields and ripe grapes, the soil management contributes significantly to the balance and flavor of the grapes and hence the vins clairs. Exchanging chemical herbicides for mechanical weeding or a natural grass cover forces the vine roots to expand vertically rather than horizontally. It also aerates the soil and thus enhances the accessibility of ground water for the plant. This water allows the vines to absorb some of the mineral elements of the mother rock which in turn enrich the grapes by adding a certain sapidity to the ripe fruit. According to Jean-Baptiste L√©caillon, cellar master at Champagne Louis Roederer, it is this ‚Äúsapidity, rather than the acidity, which brings longevity to the wine.‚ÄĚ

When we accentuate sapidity, which serendipitously also is the distinctive character of the terroir, we have one last reason why terroir (in the wider sense of the word) matters in the champagne making process; it is the dark horse which has been winning the champagne race through the creation of more pleasurable as well as wholesome cuvées.


You can learn more about Le Printemps des Champagne here.

About the author:

Caroline Henry is a journalist, writer and educator specialized in terroir champagne. She lives in Hautvillers in Champagne and is the champagne correspondent for Wine-Searcher and Decanter.

Ever since moving to Hautvillers in 2011, Caroline began to specialize in the myriad of the Champagne terroirs and the different alternative viticulture practices. Through her extensive research Caroline has probably the most in-depth knowledge on organic, biodynamic and bioenergetics champagne. She has a personal relationship with many champagne makers and a comprehensive understanding of the region’s soil compositions and vinification methods.   In March 2017, she self-published her first book Terroir champagne: the luxury of sustainable, organic and biodynamic cuvées which is available on Terroir Champagne. 

More terroir champagne stories can also be found on her blog, Missinwine. 


Story and images printed by permission of the author, Caroline Henry. 

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. ¬†All Rights Reserved.

Celebrating Grower Champagne | Laherte Fr√®res

Celebrating Grower Champagne | Laherte Fr√®res

Welcome to binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ

Inspired stories about wine and taste makers.

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

Celebrating Grower Champagne | Laherte Frères


‚ÄúToo much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.‚ÄĚ Mark Twain

It’s true. While too much champagne may be just right, too much grower Champagne is never enough.

Unfamiliar with grower Champagne? You’re not alone.

While major Champagne houses like Krug, Louis Roederer, Taittinger, and Veuve Clicquot constitute 68% of sales worldwide,  vignerons (the french term for grower), accounts for 23% –  with 91% of this niche market sold in France. Furthermore, of Champagne’s 15,240 vignerons, 4,760 fall under the rubric recoltants/manipulants, or growers who sell their own wine, designated ‘RM’ on the label.  Which means that few consumers beyond the borders of France enjoy exposure to the delight of grower champagne.

Indeed, grower Champagne represents a testament to the human spirit. No easy task, growing and selling champagne in a region steeped in brooding weather, chalk-pocked soil and the blood of countless battles, including two world wars and Napoleon’s follies. Yet despite these sorrows, Champagne remains the wine of celebration. And while Champagne may speak to the heart, grower champagne speaks to the soul.

Grower champagne producers often push boundaries not available to larger houses locked into a particular style, including a drive towards more individual expressions of terroir. They also often play with Pinot Meunier, one of three major approved varietals in Champagne, which grows especially well in the frost-prone Marne Valley. Considered more floral and fruit-forward than the other two varietals Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, it is often used to round out a blend, but deemed not age-worthy.

This dismissive attitude may be changing, thanks to artisan grower/sellers like Laherte Fr√®res www.champagne-laherte.com of Chavot, a village in Coteaux Sud d‚ÄôEŐĀpernay, a sub-region of Vall√©e de la Marne. Laherte Fr√®res dates back to 1889, with seventh-generation vigneron AureŐĀlien Laherte currently at the helm. A proponent of biodynamic farming, his family’s holdings include 25 acres of vines comprised dispersed among ten different villages. These sites include many old-vine parcels, including two planted in 1947 and 1953, respectively. From these, he makes three different wines, including this little gem, Laherte Fr√®res Ros√© de Meunier.


Tasting Notes:

Robe: Gorgeous, dusty rose robe.

Bead/Mousse: Pinpoint pearls, diaphanous mousse.

Nose: Lush floral, red fruit aromatics.

Palate: A delightful mélange of marsh rose, rhubarb and strawberry.

Finish: Gloriously bone dry.


  • Fermented in used, ~4-year old Burgundy barrels.
  • Maceration: ~12 hours prior to fermentation.
  • Malolactic fermentation – blocked.
  • Aged 6 months in barrel post-fermentation; occasional b√Ętonnage.
  • Aged an additional 3 years on the lees in bottle.
  • Extra-Brut –  Dosage 3 g/l ‚Äď Disgorged November 2015
  • 300 cases produced.

Available through Caveau Selections 

Nothing says celebration more than Champagne – except maybe grower champagne.

You can learn more about Champagne’s biodynamic and organic wine producers by reading Caroline Henry’s book Terroir Champagne.

For more on French Fizz, join the French Winophles on Saturday December 17th at 10:00 am central time on twitter, hashtag #Winophiles to chat about all things French Fizz‚Ķfrom any country, any method,  any grape.

Gwendolyn of Wine Predator: French Fizz #Winophiles: In the Pink with Fresh Seafood Crepes, Bisque

Martin of Enofylz Wine BlogPatrick Bottex ‚ÄúLa Cueille‚ÄĚ Bugey Cerdon Ros√© #Winophiles

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Crisps, Caviar, and Crémant de Limoux

Jeff from FoodWineClick!Master the Saber with French Fizz

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the FarmCreme Brulee paired with some French Fizz

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog: How About Some French Fizz this Holiday Season?


Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | red thread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.

Wine Book Review | Terroir Champagne by Caroline Henry

Wine Book Review | Terroir Champagne by Caroline Henry

Welcome to binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ

Inspired stories about wine and taste makers.

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

Wine Book Review:

Terroir Champagne: the Luxury of Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic Cuvées

by Caroline Henry


Like Champagne?

Want to understand more about it, but not sure where to start?

Or maybe just looking for a stocking stuffer for your favorite wine lover?

Here’s¬†one solution – ¬†the book¬†Terroir Champagne by fellow wine writer and international author Caroline Henry.

Terroir Champagne provides the key to unlocking a complex region with uncomplicated ease, a visually appealing book replete with lush photos and concise text.

A¬†certified sommelier, journalist and author, Caroline Henry possesses a keen understanding of Champagne’s unique history, varied soil types and time-intensive¬†vinification practices. A resident of Hautvillers since 2011, the author¬†also enjoys personal relationships with most of the region’s sustainable, organic and biodynamic grower-producers.

Henry showcases over eighty of these¬†mostly¬†family-owned enterprises¬†in her¬†three-part book, a book which begins with a pair of thoughtful forwards by multi-award winning Champagne writer & gastronomic reporter Michael Edwards and International Wine & Spirit Communicator of the Year 2015, International Champagne Writer of the Year 2011, and The Champagne Guide” author Tyson Stelzer.

Part I outlines the modern history of Champagne’s sustainable, organic and biodynamic movements, an explanation¬†of biodynamic preparations, and a handy breakdown of regional soil types.

Part II provides deeply personal portraits of growers by¬†region – Aube, Cote des Blancs, Montagne de Reims, and Vallee de la Marne – along with accompanying¬†menus for¬†each producer’s unique, hand-crafted cuv√©es.

Part III concludes with a short practical guide to where one can buy and enjoy terroir champagne, a list of organic and biodynamic growers, and a helpful glossary.

A must-have for any wine lover, Champagne enthusiast, or student of the vine.

You can buy the book here.¬†Now go out and celebrate what you’ve learned!

About the author. 

Read Guest Wine Writer Caroline Henry’s feature on Bioenergetic Wine in Champagne here.

Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | red thread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.

Holiday Exclusive I | Guest Wine Writer Series

Holiday Exclusive I |  Guest Wine Writer Series

Welcome to binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ

Inspired stories about wine and taste makers.

By L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

During this holiday season, I wanted to take time extend a heartfelt thanks to my¬†Guest Wine Writers Series 2016 participants for the joy you’ve brought to readers¬†here.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, I invited some of my fellow wine writers to join me here on the first Friday of every month in 2016 to shine a light on any rare, obscure, or under-appreciated wine region for which they felt a special passion.

Each writer¬†brought their own¬†inimitable voice, style and skill to the page, capturing readers’ imaginations worldwide.

Didn’t catch the series? Here’s a recap:

‚ĄĖ 1: Village Voice columnist¬†Lauren Mowery¬† goes wild for¬†South African Wines.

‚ĄĖ 2: Travel and wine authority¬†¬†Sarah May Grunwald dishes on¬†the Women of Georgian Wine.

‚ĄĖ 3:¬†¬†Wine scientist Erika Szymanski delves into New Zealand Chardonnay.

‚ĄĖ 4:¬†Triple threat Jeff Burrows traverses the Wines of Liguria.

‚ĄĖ 5:¬†Master of Wine¬†Elizabeth Gabay schools us on the Wines of Hungary.

‚ĄĖ 6:¬†¬†Terroir Champagne author¬†Caroline Henry reveals the secret life of Champagne’s Bioenergetic Wines.

‚ĄĖ 7:¬†Petite wine industry influencer Cindy Lowe-Rynning tipples on Maremma: Together, But Different, in Tuscany.

‚ĄĖ 8: ¬†Jura Wine¬†author¬†Wink Lorch offers¬†her¬†Exclusive on Jura Wine.

‚ĄĖ 9: Millennial lifestyle blogger¬†Demetra Molina urges you to move Beyond Retsina: ¬†7 Reasons You Should be Drinking Greek Wine.

‚ĄĖ 10: Award-winning writer¬†Jill Barth wings us through The Wines of¬†Baux de Provence.

In light of its success, I’ve agreed to reprise the¬†Guest Wine Writer Series in 2017, with a few modifications. Look for the 2017 series to run bi-monthly on the last Friday of the month, rather than the first Friday monthly.

In the meantime, thanks for your ongoing appreciation of inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.


Copyrighted 2016 binNotes | red thread‚ĄĘ. All Rights Reserved.