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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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
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.
I was recently in Scotland on vacation with my girlfriend Kimberly, and we were able to visit a few distilleries. We started off in Edinburgh where we visited a place called the Scotch Whisky Experience. They have a fun interactive tour that shows you how whisky is made. After the tour they bring out samples of whiskies from Speyside, the Highlands, the Lowlands and the Islands to show the difference in taste between these regions. Then they bring you to a room that holds the largest Scotch Whisky collection in the world. This collection was built by whisky connoisseur Claive Vidiz. It took over 35 years to build and holds 3384 bottles of Scotch Whisky. Needless to say, this puts my collection to shame. Then we finished the tour in the tasting room where they have the largest bottle of whisky on display. This bottle stands 4 feet 9 inches and holds 105.3 liters (about 150 bottles).
Our next stop was in the Scotch Whisky capital of the world, Dufftown. First stop Aberlour. We tried samples of the Aberlour a’bunadh, Aberlour 12 year and Aberlour 16 year. The 16 year in particular stands out for me. This was well rounded and has a nice complexity from both the ex-bourbon and sherry casks.
Here is a question we are asked frequently at the Binny’s Mailbag:
I like sweet wines. I’ve had had Sauternes, ice wine and moscato that I like a lot. Are there any sweet red wines you can suggest?
Hi P, thanks for the question.
We have a ton that you’ll enjoy. Here are just a few.
Marenco Pineto is from the Brachetto grape of Northern Italy. It shows sweet red berry fruit, and remains floral and balanced – not cloyingly sweet. The style is increasing in popularity and has earned its reputation as the “Red Moscato.”
For something similar but a little less expensive, give Serena a try. This Italian blend is a little lighter, fresher and very easy to drink.
For a fuller bodied red, check out Adesso. It’s one of our top sellers in the sweet red category. 100% Refosco from Emilia Romagna, just south of Venice, Italy. It has an inviting character of red berry, black raspberry and touch of spice. Food-friendly or great by itself.
Of course, that’s just the start. You’ll find tons more sweet red wines at your favorite Binny’s location. Stop by, check out what’s on hand, and ask your local wine consultant about their favorite sweet reds, too.
Celebrate Father’s Day with The Macallan & a Cigar
a FREE seminar at
Binny’s Highland Park
Thursday, June 13, 6:30 pm
Join Binny’s Highland Park in this free seminar featuring some of the world’s finest Scotch. Macallan Brand Ambassador Jeremy Fonicello will lead us through some excellent expressions from this classic distillery. And if Scotch with the right cigar sounds like an even better way to relax on Father’s Day, Jeremy and the Binny’s Highland Park crew have put in weeks of research to recommend the perfect smoke for each of the featured whiskys. RSVP soon at 847-831-5400, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A group of Binny’s wine staff visited Walla Walla, Washington. Jon Kaiser reports from the road:
Most of the Walla Walla wineries we visited, with the exception of Woodward Canyon, source their grapes from the Columbia, Cascade, and Yakima Valleys. The vineyards in Walla Walla have to be in elevation above 600 feet to avoid damaging frost when the vines start to bud. A primary characteristic of these valleys that create such rich and full bodied Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs, and Cabernet Francs is that during the warmer months the valley floors get very warm but the vines enjoy drastically cooler nights. The sun warms the soil during the day so that it radiates heat throughout the night, keeping the vines active even when the temperature cools. Average rainfall in Walla Walla is only 17 inches per year, so most of the agriculture in the area is dry farmed wheat while vineyards utilize drip irrigation.
Several of the wineries we visited in Walla Walla are located on the property of the Walla Walla Regional Airport. It was an Army Air Base during World War II where pilots learned to fly B-17 bomber aircraft. While the airport still flies small commercial planes, The Port of Walla Walla overtook ownership of the property in 1989 and the older barracks, firehouse, hangars, and buildings associated with the base are now home to 20 plus wineries including three of the biggest. We got a chance to visit Tamarack Cellars, Buty, Dunham. The quality of product and volume of production coming out of these small facilities is astounding, with production on the scale of both very large and very small. From 100,000 case production wines to just a few thousand. We tasted barrel samples at many of the wineries we visited, and one of our favorites was at the Long Shadows vineyard. Customers will love Michel Rolland’s 2012 Pedestal Merlot when it finally hits the shelves at Binny’s – in a few years.
This ain’t your Grandpas Bourbon! When Jim Beam started distilling in 1795, bourbon was pretty simple. Now it’s more complex and lots of fun! Join us for an evening of sippin’ and learnin’ with Kyle Gilligan of Jim Beam Brands this Friday.
Jim Beam Bourbon Seminar
Binny’s in Champaign
Friday, May 17th 7pm
RSVP (217) 355-0625 or email@example.com
During this seated seminar, taste several of the Beam family whiskeys, and to learn how they are made. See how this family is changing the way we think about this traditional American spirit.
Space for this event is limited so sign up early! The seminar will begin promptly at 7 and is free with your Binny’s card. If your plans change and you are unable to attend please contact us as we always have a waiting list.
RSVP by email by sending your name, phone number and # in your party to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you to confirm your reservation, or call us at (217) 355-0625.
Katharine Schenck is a Wine Consultant at the Champaign Binny’s.