Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Italy

Just returning from Italy, on a trip to experience and discover and bring that energy back to you, Barb S, Binny’s Des Plaines Wine Manager, reports from the road:

 

The variety across regions is striking. Starting in the south, the region of Puglia has almost tropical heat humidity, yielding forward wines that are juicy and jammy and just a little rustic. But as we went north to Chianti in the heart of Tuscany, the heat became arid and dry. Then, on the west coast in Bolgheri, the air cooled with a nice breeze from the sea.

 

We came back with an overwhelming impression of the charming hospitality and incredible scenery. Even if you don’t care about the wine (which we do!) the sweeping landscapes, the color and beauty of the countryside are an incredible experience. We also came back suffering prosciutto withdrawl.

 

 

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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Bordeaux Day Four

A small group from Binny’s visited Bordeaux, tasting samples of the 2013 vintage and more, with stops at chateaux and negociants. Find the rest of the trip here. Binny’s Wine Guru Steve Reiter concludes with day four:

 

Not everything is about the 2013 vintage. Our first stop is with Francois Thienpoint. While we taste a couple 2013′s, our focus here is more on previous vintages, mostly 2010-12, that are now bottled and ready for sale.

 

A few stand outs include the 2011 Roques de Jean Lice which offers nice dark plum, dried herbs and clay notes with a light spicy oak on the finish. The 2012 Manoir de Gravoux is equally nice with plum, hints of black cherry, light cocoa and soft tannins. The 2011, 2010 and 2005 La Violette are wonderful, exhibiting warm flavors of black cherry, cola, clay earth and light clove. But the best by far is a barrel sample of 2012 La Gravette de Certan, the second wine of Chateau Vieux Certan. With a heady perfumed nose of blue and purple flowers and fruit, hints of clove, followed by lush blue and black fruit, all balanced and round. This is what Bordeaux offers that no one else can!

 

Bordeaux Bottles

 

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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Bordeaux Day Three

A small group from Binny’s visited Bordeaux. They tasted samples of the 2013 vintage, with stops at both chateaux and negociants. Find previous reports here. Steve is back with more:

 

Chateau Pichon Baron

 

Day three starts with an appointment at Pichon Baron to taste and have lunch. We also have the distinct pleasure to taste with the winemaker, and to tour this lush and iconic chateau. Just check it out:

 
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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Bordeaux Day Two

A team from Binny’s visited Bordeaux, one of France’s most famous wine regions. They tasted samples of the 2013 vintage – now available en premier – visiting chateaux and negociants. Read yesterday’s report here. Steve is back with more:

 

Day two and we’re on the right bank in St. Emilion and Pomerol. Vineyards spread out along the countryside, but upon reaching St. Emilion, the city is right on top of the vineyards. In fact, Chateau Ausone is on a hillside above their vineyards just 500 meters behind town. Just like we saw on the Left Bank yesterday, the local population and the vineyards are completely interwoven. Towns have grown as a result of the success and history of the wine region, which again is so different from the other regions I’ve visited. St. Emilion especially is a gorgeous old commune straight out of a fairy tale. Old with buildings staggered over steep hills, narrow passageways, vineyards enclosed by stone walls. A tourist destination and certainly worth the visit.

 

Vineyards and Towns in Bordeaux

 

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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Bordeaux Day One

Binny’s Wine Managers Steve Reiter and Chris Speir joined Wine Buyer Barbara Hermann on a trip to one of France’s most famous wine regions, Bordeaux. They tasted barrel samples of the 2013 vintage – now in the early stages of its en premier campaign – visited Chateaux and negociants. Steve reports from the road:

 

Binny's in Bordeaux

 

 

First Impressions

 

I expected the city of Bordeaux to be large (the 9th largest in France) but not quite the expanse that it is. We’re staying in a charming, modern sprawl radiating from the river with a modern, urban feel. However, the “Centre” or old part of Bordeaux, is just as large, and definitely has the rustic feel I expected. With stone buildings, colored shades of earthy white, grey, orange and green, it reminds me a lot of Venice. Old churches and architecture dot town squares where people pass time. We wander a few hours through the alley-like, brick-layered streets. I would hate to have to park here. No wonder there are so many bikes.

 

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Celebrate Repeal Day with a Classic Cocktail

Dec 5th, 1933 was a great day in American History. It marked the passage of the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution, repealing prohibition. Thirteen long years of alcohol prohibition were plagued by an upswing in violence and organized crime. Illicit alcohol still made its way to the streets, often of dubious and sometimes downright dangerous quality. So this repeal day, pick up a couple bottles of the “Real McCoy” and mix yourself a classic cocktail.

 

Repeal Day

 

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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: France Part III

Binny’s South Loop Wine Manager Don Sheil continues with his notes from the Rhone. Find previous entries on the Binny’s Blog here and here.

 

Domaine Saladin

 

We visit Domaine Saladin located in Saint Marcel d’Ardeche. This is a new label for Binnys, just arriving in stores a few weeks ago. Another impressive operation managed by patriarch Louis Saladin’s daughters, Elizabeth and Marie-Laurence Saladin. These ladies produce beautiful, pure, understated wines from hand picked grapes on land that has been farmed organically pretty much since the dawn of time. Meaning, they farm the same way they always have, organic before organic ever got popular. The wines are bright and remarkably restrained. The 2011 Paul, a co fermented blend of grenache and clairette blanche, shows the lift of fresh red berries with hints of citrus and spice box. The Cheyveron is also nicely balanced. The Per El (“For Her”) blanc, created by Louis for his wife who prefers white wine, is a sublime blend of 5 varietals aged in stainless steel vats.

 

Domaine Saladin

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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: France Part II

A group of Binny’s wine people traveled to the Rhone Valley in France, joined by legendary importer Peter Weygandt. Check out day one from Binny’s South Loop Wine Manager Don Sheil here. He continues to share his experience:

 

Wine Barrels

 

We spend time at Domaine Les Aphillanthes, near the village of Rasteau, with vigneron Daniel Boulle. We tasted several interesting wines – the 2011 Rasteau 1921 Cuvee is epscially good (2010 here). The name refers to the year the vines were planted – aromas of blackberry, licorice and Provencal herbs abound. The finish is long and the flavors complete across the palate.

 

Wines of Domaine Les Aphillanthes

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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: the Rhone & Southern France

Several Binny’s employees, led by Binny’s Wine Buyer Barbara Hermann, traveled to the Rhone Valley and Southern France, in search of the greatest wines the region offers. Joining them was legendary importer Peter Weygandt. Binny’s South Loop Wine Manager Don Sheil shares the experience:

 

Raymond Usseglio Vineyards

 

The business part of our journey begins when we meet Peter Weygandt, an importer of European artisan wines, in the hillside town of Chateauneuf du Pape. First stop, Domaine Raymond Usseglio, where we tour the vineyards and taste wines with Raymond’s son and heir apparent, Stephane. The impressive array of 2011 cuvees and 2012 barrel samples show the quality and care of this vigneron. Surprisingly, at least to me, the 2012 whites are amazing – lush and balanced with rich tree ripened fruit.

 

Raymond Usselgio Bottles

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Wine Staff Picks

This month, we turn to Binny’s Highland Park Wine Consultant Keith Akers for a few of his top recommendations. With his eye for value, he offers up five great selections from all over the world.

 

2011 Chateau de la Ragotiere Muscadet
Aromatic and mineral driven with seashells, crushed rocks, white fruits, and a touch of floral notes. Light bodied with crisp and refreshing medium/high acidity. Summer is over, but this is still perfect with lighter foods and is a pleasure to drink all the time.

 

Tissot Rose Tissot Rose jura-9-20-2013
Crisp and aromatic with a red fruit base of red berries, red fruits, warm dough, and a bit of mineral tones. Medium bodied with zippy high acidity, this is a great sparkling rose that competes with many Champagnes that are twice the price. Also, be sure to check out Tissot Indigene, a dead ringer for a Blanc de Blancs from Champagne at half the price. The sparkling wines of Tissot only at select Binny’s locations.

 

2011 Evening Land Blue Label Pinot Noir
The pretty and perfumed nose shows fresh picked red berries, cherries, spice tones, and roses. Medium bodied with nice and tart medium acidity. This beautiful pinot leans more towards the nuanced side instead of raw power.

 

2010 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico rocca-9-20-2013
Tones of red cherries, berries and roasted herbs fill the glass and have a great savory quality. Medium bodied with medium acidity and silky tannins, this Chianti Classico is great to drink on its own and to have with food.

 

2009 Argyle Brut
The nose is lively and balanced with red apples, yeast, white fruits, and mineral tones. There is a real freshness on the palate as well, with a silkiness to the medium body and medium/high acidity. This is a great sparkling wine buy that is a real pleasure to drink.

 

Keith has been a fixture in the Highland Park Binny’s wine department for six years. He especially loves the wines of Italy, Champagne and Burgundy, having graduated from beer to wine after falling for wine’s sense of place. Email Keith at kakers@binnys.com or stop by Binny’s Highland Park.

 

For more wine news any time, check out the Wine Hotline.