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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Wine Hotline Hits The Road: Jerez

Sherry Barrel Room

Binny’s Wine Buyer, Bob Calamia traveled to Jerez to seek out Spain’s top sherry and learn a thing or two about this timeless region. Bob reports from the field:

 

World headquarters for sherry is Jerez in Southwestern Spain. Two things make sherry unique – its proximity to the Mediterranean and the high level of chalk in the soil. The chalk gives sherry some of its characteristic mineral flavors, but the soil’s biggest contribution is its ability to retain moisture. Jerez gets most of its rain in the fall and winter, and the chalk sustains the vines in the dry spring and summer. The climate is warm enough to ripen palomino fino – the primary grape of the region – and when grown in the chalky soil, it achieves a quality found nowhere else.

 

More photos and info after the jump!

 

Cutting the sherry grape vines

 

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Whiskey Hotline Hits the Road: Ireland

On my most recent trip to Ireland I had the opportunity to travel with Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) and attend their Origin Green Conference focused on sustainability and green food and beverage production in Ireland. I met Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny, watched the Gaelic football championship game (Ireland’s Superbowl) in a traditional Irish pub and visited my favorite brewery, Guinness.

 

Day one of my trip started in the County Cork at the historic Midleton Distillery. Midleton is home to Jameson, Powers, Paddy and pure potstill Redbreast, one of the best Irish whiskeys on our shelf.  They also provide whiskey on contract to support long existing independent brands.

 

New pot stills in Middleton

 

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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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A Sleeping Giant or Living in the Past?

There’s a stirring Down Under. Earlier this month Wine Australia, a new division under the Australian Government, gathered 250 key retailers, restauranteurs, wine journalists and beverage directors in Adelaide to pick, poll, quiz and conference. The objective: find out from the “front lines” what Australia needs to do to re-engage the wine consumer. The conference schedule was full and each was packed with Australian winemakers, marketers, and importers eager for perspective.

 

 

Panels included a great mix of retail, press and trade representatives. Subjects didn’t pull any punches. I especially liked the one titled “Retailer – Friend or Foe” (what?). After three full days of talking, it was time for wine country immersion. That meant winery visits, vineyards tours and “master classes” by coalitions of the top winemakers of each region – Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale.

 

 

Oysters were great with these classy dry rieslings.

 

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Beer Buzz Hits The Road: Michigan

On a recent trip to Michigan, 34 Binny’s employees embarked on a beer education adventure. With visits to Greenbush, Dark Horse, Arcadia, and Saugatuck, we walked away with a new and profound knowledge of what these breweries have to offer- and only just a little bit of a headache.

 

Beer Buzz extraordinaires, Kyle Fornek and Pat Brophy also break down exactly what beers the crew enjoyed most during the trip!

 

Our mode of transportation

Our mode of transportation


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First Stop: Greenbush Brewing
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New to the Illinois market and to the shelves of Binny’s, Greenbush Brewing Co. is a popular brewery living by the motto “Good Beer Wins.” We toured their facility as well as their soon-to-be used 15-barrel brew house. Greenbush is taking the necessary steps to adapt to their consumers… by making more beer.

 

Greenbush2Here are our top two brews from the visit:

 

Anger – This could very well be the best black IPA on our shelves. Somehow it seems to perfectly harness everything we love about a good porter like flavors of chocolate and brown sugar, with hop aromas and flavors still balancing wonderfully due to the addition of Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Cascade hops. Despite what the name tells you, this beer will make you happy.

 

Brother Benjamin Double IPA – This beer is incredibly well balanced, huge maltiness up front with a drying bitterness on the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden. We could have drank a lot of these, but there was a ton of other great beers to try!
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Second Stop: Dark Horse Brewing Co.
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Imagine a playground for adults. That’s exactly what Dark Horse Brewing Co. is. They have a stage where local bands play weekly, a skate shop, a sand pit, an outdoor and indoor bar… do we need to keep going? It’s well worth the three hour drive up to Marshall, Michigan.

 

Brews we enjoyed the most at Dark Horse:

 

DHblog2Reserve Special Black Ale – Upon first glance it looks like an Irish stout with its creamy tan head and black as night color. However this brew is packed to the gills with chocolate and caramel flavors, with a hefty amount of sweetness that balances nicely with an underlying citrus hop taste.

 

Falconers Flight Single Hop Crooked Tree IPA – Falconers Flight is a fairly new hop and this is the first we’ve tried of it. Kind of a weird mix of tropical fruit and pine, but it works with the medium malty profile of Crooked Tree.
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Third Stop: Arcadia Ales
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Arcadia was the third stop on our day, so it was awesome when they greeted us with a fantastic meal, good company and of course, great beer. We ended the night with a tour of their brewery. Fun fact about Arcadia: they still use a direct fire brew kettle to brew their beers. This gives some beers a heavy, caramel flavor.

 

The two brews we enjoyed most at Arcadia:

 

arcadiablog2Whitsun – Very flavorful, sessionable beer. It had a nice balance to it; not too heavy on the orange, not too much coriander, not too “wheaty.” Wonderful summer beer.

 

Cocoa Loco – We had a chance to sample the cocoa nibs that go into this beer, and boy are they bitter and just about unpalatable! But once the brewers at Arcadia have their way with them during the crafting of Cocoa Loco, the end result is flavors of chocolate cake and molasses with only the slightest bitterness.

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Fourth Stop & Brew Day: Saugatuck Brewing Co.

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hopfinder

Saugatuck invited us to come brew at their brewery. It was a great experience for so many of our employees as many hadn’t brewed before. We took Saugatuck’s Pathfinder Pale Ale and added Citra, Simcoe, and Nelson Sauvin hops to it. We then dry hopped it with hard to find Mosaic hops. We’re looking forward to its release, soon!

 
Here are the beers we enjoyed most on draft at Saugatuck’s brewpub:

 

sbblog2Pathfinder Pale Ale - This is what makes Saugatuck Pathfinder Pale Ale different from most other American Pale Ales: it is not overly bitter or hoppy, it is under 5% ABV, it is more malt forward, it is very earthy, and generally speaking, it is relatively mild and drinkable. If there can be a such thing as a session pale ale, then this is it.

 

ESB Amber – This beer is all about subtlety of flavor. Biscuity malts and a lighter hop profile help this one go down easy. Yes, it’s not an extreme IPA or barrel aged stout, but there is still a lot of complexity to be found in this brew.

 

Be on the lookout for Hopfinder in stores soon!

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Keep up with other Beer Buzz adventures here or shoot us an email at beer@binnys.com if you have any questions or just simply want to talk brewskis.

 Dark Horse Group Pic

Have you visited any of these breweries? Let us know what you thought in the comments section below!