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 or stop by Binny’s Highland Park.


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

Our New Favorite Pinot Grigio


Introducing Arboreto, the new Italian pinot grigio exclusively at Binny’s.


Sometimes it seems that all a pinot grigio has to be is clear and wet…. What makes Arboreto stand out?


“It’s vibrant, with lots of tart green apple,” says Binny’s Wine Buyer Barbara Hermann. “It drinks like a pinot grigio that might usually cost you 18.99, only it costs half that price.”


Hermann is excited to bring in this exclusive new product. “We’re working with a hometown, Chicago-based importer. But she was originally from Verona, in the Veneto. She’s from the same region as this wine.”


What should you expect when you pour a glass of Arboreto? Light bodied and full flavored, it shows notes of orange zest, fresh melon and spiced pear. The finish is dry, tangy and delicious, with the spicy flavors lingering.



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

Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Ribera del Duero

A small group from Binny’s visited Spain’s Ribera del Duero. Bill Newton reports from the road:


Ribera del Duero


Spain’s Ribera del Duero is beautiful and rustic. On one hand, the region is home to world-class wine producers such as Vega Sicilia, Pingus and Pesquera. On the other hand, nobody acted surprised when a herd of sheep blocked traffic to cross the road.


The guys at Vega Sicilia don’t leave room for surprises. They want complete control over every aspect of their wine making process, including making and toasting all of the barrels used at the winery at their own on-site cooperage. Coopers everywhere char the insides of their barrels, determining the flavors that barrels instill in the wines they hold (just like with spirits, or even beer).


Toasting Barrels

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Wine Hotline Updated

The Wine HotlineBe sure to check out the brand new update to the Wine Hotline. And goodness, this update is a big one, including hard-hitting issues:


exotic, but not too exotic ♦ what California chardonnay should be ♦ wine and food from Nantucket to Washington State a buyer’s vintage ♦ a bit of chantilly cream ♦ a wisp of creamy smoke ♦ spring flowers, crushed rocks, smoked game ♦ steamed buns ♦ what Oregon pinot is all about ♦ Walla Walla 


Yes! So for all that and more, be sure to check out the newly updated  Wine Hotline.

Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Walla Walla, Washington

A group of Binny’s wine staff visited Walla Walla, Washington. Jon Kaiser reports from the road:


Long Shadows Barrels


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.


Long Shadows Fermentation Tanks

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Wine Hotline Hits the Road: Napa


Outside of a few small areas in Bordeaux, Napa is making the greatest cabernet sauvignon on the planet. We recently visited some of the greatest wineries in the country. For more info on some of our favorite wines from the region, check out the current edition of The Wine Hotline. We snapped these pics on our journey down Route 29 and the Silverado Trail.


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The Wine Hotline: November Update is Huge

Okay, the new WINE HOTLINE is freshly updated and live for your reading pleasure.


Of course, the big story is that Wine Spectator released their #1 wine of 2012 today, rounding out their Top Ten for the year. We list which of these coveted wines are still at Binny’s – meaning the info will be accurate for about three more hours. Watch for the full Spectator Top 100 early next week.


But there’s so much more! We highlight some of our favorite wines from the Binny’s November Wine Sale on Binny’s Best Buys, and of course they will all make perfect pairings for your big Thanksgiving dinner (By the way, somebody told us your house was the place to be next Thursday… Where’s our invite?). Then there’s our Small Batch Highlights, showcasing world-class wines available only in limited quantities. Des Plaines Binny’s Wine Manager Barb Steadman gave us her fave five for Thanksgiving in Staff Picks, and our cellarmaster gave us a couple Cellarmaster’s Selections from the Douro. Plus a there’s a Regional Spotlight on the Southern Rhone, and seriously, a whole bunch more stuff.


Like we said, it’s huge. Go check it out.


The Wine Hotline: Binny’s Best Buys

The new edition of THE WINE HOTLINE is updated and online now!


Let’s see… this edition features includes Binny’s Best Buys (reprinited below for your convenience), Ratings Rants & Raves (plus Binny’s savings under list price), a great sparkling Staff Pick, the latest in New, Novel & Notable, a classy Rhone Cellarmaster’s Selection, plus info on Weekend at Binny’s, our free, staff-pick wine tastings held each Saturday at all Binny’s stores. And if all that isn’t enough for you, well, hit us up with an email or a call at The Wine Hotline: 866-975-6188.


Binny's Best Buys


After looking through the Binny’s October Wine Sale, we had to grab some bottles and pull some corks. Just as a reminder of what makes these Binny’s Best Buys:


2010 Chateau St Jean Chardonnay Sonoma
reg. $10.99 $8.99 w/Binny’s Card
This crisp Sonoma chardonnay has been a consistent value for decades. A straightforward blend from throughout Sonoma County: citrus and spice on the nose with just a hint of baked pineapple before a mouthful of white fruits and spice. Make St Jean a regular pour at your table.


2009 Seven Deadly Zins2009 Seven Deadly Zins 
reg. $13.99 $12.99 w/Binny’s Card
A top seller in the zinfandel aisle, yet somehow we hadn’t tasted it in a while. Wow! We’ve been missing out. This is the definition of Lodi Zin. It has all the big, ripe berry fruit and that minty chickory spice you only find in warm climate zinfandel, plus cola and molasses. We see why Robert Parker awarded this killer zin 90 points.


2011 Cercius Cotes du Rhone Vieilles Vignes 
reg. $14.99 $13.99 w/Binny’s Card
Want a value from off the beaten path? The Cercius Cotes du Rhone from Michel Gassier offers notes of ripe, fresh and juicy berries, plus a touch of gamy meat and spice. The mouthfeel is broad with a spine of fresh acidity. For fans of fresh grenache.


Four Vines Naked2010 Four Vines Naked Chardonnay 
reg. $10.99 $8.99 w/Binny’s Card
What makes this chardonnnay “Naked?” The absence of wood aging leaves chardonnay pure, fresh, in the buff. With just a touch of perfume on the nose, it wears its voluptuous fruit handsomely. And at two dollars off through October, it’s easier than ever to enjoy this birthday suit chard.


2009 Las Rocas Garnacha 
reg. $10.99 $9.99 w/Binny’s Card
Another to receive 90 points from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, the ’09 Las Rocas is bigger than ever. This Spanish grenache is loaded with plush candied fruit and cracked black pepper. It rocks for just ten bucks. We’re dying to pop this one with a good peppersteak.



…Find tons more on The Wine Hotline:

The Wine Hotline

* Listed prices valid through 10/31/2012 with your Binny’s Card.

The Wine Hotline: New, Novel & Notable

We’re proud to unleash the brand new THE WINE HOTLINE, your online insider’s guide to the world of wine. This thing includes Best Buys, New Releases, Staff Picks, Sneak Previews, and tons more.  Check it out on Here’s an excerpt featuring some of our favorite new releases:


New, Novel & Notable


2010 Selbach Oster Estate Spatlese 
If only people would drink more riesling! It comes and goes as a fad, but we hold the white in a sweet place in our hearts. Why? Taste this new Spatlese from Selbach Oster and you’ll see. Streamlined acidity balances with broad sugar and fruit in a way that is simply sublime.


2010 Marilyn Merlot2010 Marilyn Merlot
One of the most glamorous releases of the year is here. 2010 Marilyn Merlot is on shelves, at least for now. Every year this wine is snatched up by collectors and supply never lasts. Plus, the 2010 bottle has the most risque label in two and a half decades of Marilyns.


Allendorf Riesling Secco
Made from 100% riesling, this German sparkling is bone dry, but shows wonderfully plush peaches and pears with delicate floral notes. A day at the beach in a bottle, and a perfect BYO pick for Thai restaurants.


2010 Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone
Don’t miss 2010 from the Rhone. We got a taste of the new Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone and we are impressed. Brunel is known for his Chateauneuf du Pape, Les Cailloux. The less pricey Cotes du Rhone is like a mini Chateauneuf. With the same briary garrigue character, it’s all about elegance and complexity. What more could you want for ten bucks?


Avissi ProseccoAvissi Prosecco
Looking for fun and easygoing bubbles? Check out this Italian sparkler. It has fresh fruit, delicate floral notes, just a hint of sugar keeping it soft but not sweet. A value sparkler, this Prosecco never gets too serious – and we like it that way.


2011 Evolucio Furmint
Pretty peach fruit with just the right amount of citrus acidity, 2011 Evolucio Furmint has it all. We fell in love with this zippy Hungarian white as soon as it was in our glass. Once we heard that we could sell it for under ten dollars a bottle, well, we were sold.


The Wine Hotline